Kwack Beer – fit for the mail man!



This is a Belgian amber ale made at the Bosteels Brewery which was founded in 1971.  I really enjoyed this beer and highly recommend it.   It has a beautiful color and head, fruity aroma, with a taste that is mellow with a hint of sweetness and very little bitterness. It has a nice long finish. It’s an easy to drink beer, but watch out as It has an alcohol content of 8.5%.    As with all Belgian beer, Kwack has it’s own glass that should be used to drink it, and this one is quite unusual:  




It is said that this glass was conceived by brewer/inn keeper Pauwel Kwak in the early 19th Century for mail coaches.   Back then, coachmen were apparently not allowed to leave their coach and horses during mail delivery.  Paul Kwak specially made this glass so that it could be hung on the coach to allow them to quench their thirst while delivering the mail.   If the USPS had something like that, I might consider switching profession! 


Baking bread – the easy way

There is nothing better than fresh bread.

I like crusty European style bread and to make this stuff can be a challenge.

I first tried a bread maker. Easy? yes. Crusty European bread? No, not even close!

Next, my wife tried various “old world” recipes. Oh, that was so good! …but it was so time consuming she stopped baking me bread. Disaster!

Luckily, one of my good neighbor introduced me to “no knead bread” making, as described in Jim Lahey’s book “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-work, No-Knead Method” . It’s so easy, and the results are simply amazing. A miracle!


What you’ll need (for 1 loaf)
3 cups of flour
1 1/4th teaspoon of salt
1/4th teaspoon of yeast
1 1/3 to 1 1/4th cup of water
A plastic container, roughly 5-6 quart size
Proofing basket (optional)
A dutch oven

What you’ll need to prepare the bread. Far right is the dough after all ingredients have been mixed together.

I have 2 dutch ovens – one is the “Lodge 5 quart pre-seasoned dutch oven” (roughly $30 on Amazon). The other is from Le Creuset, which runs about $100. They both work equally well and thus I’d recommend purchasing the cheaper (Lodge) pot.
lodge preseasoned dutch oven 5 quart

1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast together in the plastic container, then add the water. You have added enough water once there is no more dry flour, and the dough is sticky in consistency.

2. Cover the container, and let the dough rise for 18-24 hours at room temperature (about 68-73F)

3. Take the dough out and place it on a cutting board or other clean surface. Use dry flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and the surface you are using.

4. Next, take the “corners” and fold the dough over itself (like you are folding a napkin in 4).

5. Turn the dough upside down (folds on the bottom), cover it with a clean towel and let it rise another hour or two. You can do this in a proofing basket if you’d like, or just keep it on the surface you used to fold it. (again remember to use flour to prevent it from sticking). The advantage of the proofing baskets is that it keeps the shape of the dough in a ball as it rises, but it’s not a necessary item.

The dough, after it’s been folded and turned upside down

The dough, after a 2 hour rest period.

5. Place the dutch oven, with the lids on, in the oven, and pre-heat at 475-500F for 15 minutes.

6. Place the dough in the pot
Ready for baking!

7. pPut the lid back on, and cook for 30 minutes at 475F

8. Remove the lid, cook another 12-15 minutes


8. Remove the bread from the pot, let it cool 15 minutes, and enjoy!


With this recipe I now have fresh bread every Sunday evening — I mix the dough Saturday morning and have fresh bread by dinner time on Sunday. It’s now a ritual the kids beg for. We enjoy the bread with good cheese, salami, or dipped into olive oil. I’ve also used this recipe to make pizza (works great). Once you have mastered the recipe, you can start to experiment a little bit. For example, add rosemary to the mix, use whole wheat flour, or make sourdough (with rye flour).


Recently, what I’ve liked doing is add a heaping teaspoon of Red Mill’s Sunflower seeds, steel cut oats, and 10 grain mix.  This makes for a little bit heartier and healthier bread.   Note that when you do this, you’ll need to add a little bit more water (just over 1 1/2 cup) and yeast (I do a generously heaping 1/4 teaspoon).

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Which way do you like to make your no-knead bread?

Duvel – fit for a king

To celebrate Belgium’s independence’s day and the king’s coronation (21st of July), I decided to have a toast with a Duvel, one of Belgium’s most popular ale.   Duvel is produced by a brewery called Moortgat brewery which was founded in 1871.  The beer was originally called “Victory Ale” to  commemorate the end of World War 1.  Apparently the name was changed in the 1920s when someone described the beer as “nen echten duvel” (a real devil in Dutch) and consequently the name was changed to “Duvel”. 

The Duvel double is brewed with two hop varieties and has an alcohol content of 8.5% . 


The Duvel tripel is brewed with 3 strains – the first 2 are the same as in the double, and the third one is changed on a yearly basis. This year, they added a Japanese hop called Sorachi Ace. The tripel has an alcohol content of 9.5%     



It was interesting to be able to taste these two beers at the same time to see what the addition of the third yeast would do. When poured into their proper glass (a Burgundy glass), they both have similar color and a nice light foamy white head. Both are fairly dry. The double gives a quick bitter bite and a medium finish while the tripel has a fruitier flavor, seemed slightly less bitter but with a longer and what I feel was more satisfying finish. I think both would go very well with a hearty meal or as an after dinner drink – perfect for a king’s feast!


Have you had a Duvel? What do you think of it?

Liege Waffles anyone?

One thing people know about me is that I love waffles. My nickname in college was the “American Belgian Waffle” This obsession about waffle probably stems from being born in Liège, where the gaufre de Liège was created. It’s a staple of the city (and Belgium) and everywhere one can see people eating these things while walking down city streets.



What’s a Gaufre de Liège you ask? Apparently Liège waffles were invented in the 18th century by the chef to the prince-bishop of Liège. They are square, thick, heavy waffle made of brioche-based dough and pearl sugar. The beauty of these waffles is that the sugar caramelizes when cooked, resulting in a delightful treat. The Liège waffle differs from the Gaufres de Bruxelles and the Flemish waffles which are supposed to be rectangular, light, crispy, and contain very little sugar.

Place Saint Lambert ...birth place of the Liege waffle?

Place Saint Lambert …birth place of the Liege waffle?

Lucky for me, I found a place in Pittsburgh that makes authentic Liège waffles. It’s called Waffallonia, and it’s located in Squirrel Hills. It’s a tiny place on the corner of Murray and Forbes avenue, and I can attest that these are quite good – very close to the real thing. You can get them “plain” or with various toppings such as strawberries / whipped cream, or Nutella. It’s a perfect place to go for an afternoon treat or a dessert on the way back from dining out in Pittsburgh. I highly recommend them!

Waffallonia menu

Waffallonia menu

Waffle with Nutella.   Yum!

Waffle with Nutella. Yum!

Kaya at the Strip District

This past month’s issue of Pittsburgh magazine was about the best restaurants in the area. Just looking at the pictures, I started salivating. I thus decided that my goal for the year would be try out all the restaurants on the list. This weekend, I went to Kaya. This restaurant is part of the Big Burrito chain, and is located in the Strip District. The menu is inspired by the flavors of the Caribbean Islands, South America, and the Pacific islands, and as you can imagine consists of mostly seafood (there are a few meat dishes as well).
They have some tables outside, right off a quiet street, and this turned out to be a pleasant place to sit as we found the inside to be too noisy and cold for us. Our order was taken quickly by a friendly waiter. My wife ordered the Jerked Mahi Mahi and I asked for the Lake Ontario Walleye.

Lake Ontario Walleye

Jerked Mahi Mahi

We both enjoyed our dishes. Each of us had a perfectly cooked fish and the meals flavor full. I really enjoyed the broth, vegetables and clams that came with the Walleye, but I was surprised that my dish did not come with a starch. A few small potatoes would have been a nice addition I think. The coconut rice went very well with the Mahi Mahi and the accompanying garnish, but the rice was not very warm and I think this was because they put the food on a cold plate instead of using a pre-heated one.

While were were quickly welcomed by our waiter upon arrival at the restaurant, once our dinner arrived, he disappeared. He did not come back to ask us how our meal was, and it took a good 20 minutes after we were finished eating that he returned. By this time, we had decided to skip out on dessert and just asked for the check. This wasn’t his fault however, as he was obviously overworked with too many tables to serve.

All in all, we enjoyed our meal at Kaya. There aren’t many restaurants in Pittsburgh that offer good fish, but we think that Kaya is a good one. The dishes offer some interesting flavors and we look forward to returning again to try several other dishes that looked appetizing.

Vincent’s Pizza Park

I’m always looking for a good pizza. I’ve been told by a number of people that Vincent’s pizza is good, so I decided to give it a go this weekend.

I was told it can get pretty busy, so I went there with the family at 5 PM. The “Home of the Vinnie Pie” was easy to find with a large sign on the roof as it was still daylight, but I noticed that the sign isn’t light up and thus it could be hard to find when it’s dark. The restaurant takes cash only. There’s an ATM inside.

Initial impressions: Good. The place reminded me of a 1980’s pizza joint, and had a comfortable feel to it, for a pizza joint. We were greeted promptly and told to choose our own table which was easy as the place was only 1/2 full. We chose a large booth in the back of the restaurant which fit our party of 7 very comfortably.

SERVICE: poor. Once at our table, 15 minutes passed before someone came to the table to take care of us. Luckily we already had menus on hand so we ordered immediately. Once the order was placed, it took roughly another 15 minutes to get our drinks, and 45 minutes to get our food. We had ordered 2 pizza, the mushroom/onion/sausage pizza came after 45 minutes and the cheese pizza came after 55 minutes. It took the waitress 10 minutes to bring our bill after we asked for it. Mind you, this terrible service occured when the restaurant was 1/2 empty. I can’t imagine what it’d be if we had come later in the evening. On the plus side, the waitress was very friendly.

FOOD: above average. Vincent’s pizza has a thick crust on the edges, which thins out towards the middle. You can taste the freshly made dough, it’s delicious. Vincent also passed my 3 quality assessment test for pizza places: Do they use canned or fresh mushrooms, is the sausage “rabbit droppings” or the real stuff, and do they use real cheese? I’m happy to say that Vincent’s passes on all accounts (fresh mushrooms, real sausage, real cheese) – and that translates into a great tasting pizza. I’d been told their pizza were very greasy, but the two that we had definitely were not in that category. Also, the pizza did not taste too salty (Minio’s, in Squirrel Hill, is quite greasy and salty by comparison).    Another plus:  they have several beers on tap.  We had Samuel Adam’s spring beer which was fantastic.

Vincent's Pizza

PRICES:  reasonable.   A large cheese pizza, which will feed at least 4 people cost $14.    A large 3 topping pizza tops $30 but it’ll probably feed 5 or 6 people.

CLEANLINESS: The dining area was clean. The men’s bathroom was disgusting with the urinal overflowing onto the floor.

CONCLUSION:  Vincent’s pizza makes a great pizza – fresh ingredients, great crust, not too greasy or salty. I put it above Mineo’s pizza for sure. I’d love to have a pizza place close to home which I could frequent on a regular basis, and I had hoped this would be it (I don’t like take out very much, as the pizza never seems to taste as good at home compared to fresh out of the oven) but I don’t think this place will do.   Service was terrible and frankly, it makes me pause as to whether I’d return there. I probably will go back eventually, because the pizza really is quite tasty – but it won’t be anytime soon. When I do go back, I’ll make sure to go early, be in no rush, not starving, and have an empty bladder.

What’s your favorite pizza place?



Bargain Pinot Noir

I find it difficult to find a good bottle of wine at a bargain price.  Here is a wonderful Pinot Noir some friends introduced to me.  Smooth, some cherry notes, and tasty finish (surprisingly long).  Good alone when you want to relax,  or with a nice meal. Only $10 bucks!  If the State Liquor store wasn’t close today (Sunday), I’d have gotten a few more bottles already.

Hello world!

Good morning and welcome to Goodgrubs!   

No – this isn’t a blog about larvaes or insects.   It’s not about dwarves either.

Grub is also defined as “meal” or “food” and this is what I’ll be talking about here.  

For some people, food is a chore: a daily activity they get done with as quickly as possible in order to get back to to other activities.    They eat to live.    

Not me.  

I live to eat.  

I enjoy eating.  

I look foward to it.    It’s joy in my mouth, my stomach, and my mind. 

To me a meal is not an act, but an event.  Put good food, good drinks and good companionship together, and you get a blissful event.

I do not think that good food equals expensive, pretentious, or fancy.    This is why I chose the term grub.  

In this blog, I’ll describe some of the good, and not so good grubs that I encounter with family and friends along the way which you might then try out yourself.    I’m also hoping to get some ideas for you as well… so please feel free to give me your thoughts an what you enjoy to eat and drink!