10 bizarre beers you probably haven’t heard of

Pizza flavored beerAnd you thought adding hints of blueberry and flavors of pumpkin to your brew was unique? Check out this list of 10 bizarre beers and you’ll be thinking that cherry ale is as boring as water.

Pizza Beer

Pizza Beer was created by Tom and Athena Seefurth in Campton Township, Illinois, when they had a surplus of tomatoes. The process of creating this brew involves mashing a Margarita pizza and steeping it. The essence of the pizza spices is washed off and put in a brewpot to boil. Hops and spices are added, the liquid is fermented, and, after a week or two, your pizza beer is good to go.porterhouse oyster beerPorterhouse Oyster Stout

This beer, created by the Porterhouse Brewing Company in Ireland, is not suitable for vegetarians, as it is literally brewed with oysters. Other components include grains such as pale malt, roast barley, black malt, and flaked barley as well as hops like Galena, Nugget, and East Kent Goldings.

Bacon Beer

Bacon Beer, which has actual bacon in it, is a creative brew created by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver. To create this beer, Oliver infuses a brown ale with the flavor of bacon fat using a method known as “fat washing”. Because the entire process is so complicated, it is an expensive $350 a taste, according to Daniel Maurer at NBC New York. However, Oliver is attempting to simplify the process in order to make the beer more affordable to beer drinkers.

Creme Brulee Beer

The Southern Tier Brewing Company offers a beer that you can also have for dessert. This Imperial Milk Stout is made with 2-row pale malt, dark caramel malt, vanilla bean, lactose sugar, Columbus kettle hops, and Horizon aroma hops. Bonus: Other dessert beers from this brewing company include an oatmeal stout and a “choklat stout”.

chili beer cave creekChili Beer

Originally created by the Black Mountain Brewing Company in Cave Creek, Arizona, this beer has a kick to it which can be attributed to the addition of chili peppers to the brew. While the originally brewing company has closed down, chili beer continues to be created by the Mexicali Brewery in Tecate, Mexico.

Tomato Beer

Anheuser-Busch in Missouri brings tomato flavored beer to brew lovers in their Chelada, a mixture of Budweiser and Clamato juice. With chunks of tomato and a spicy flavor, this savory beer is best served with some lime and a celery stick.

Champagne Beer

Kasteel Cru creates a Champagne flavored beer by blending water from the los Vosges mountains, malted barley, and choicest hops and adds the method of Champange yeast fermentation. Just like when sipping Champagne, drinkers can expect a crisp, clean finish.

banana bread beer by wellsCoffee Beer

The Southern Tier Brewing Company makes the list again with their coffee flavored brew called jah*va Imperial Coffee Stout. It is made by blending 2-row pale malt, caramel malt, chocolate malt, black malt, roasted barley, Cascade and Columbus hops, and Jamiacan Blue Moutain Coffee. With its complex flavor, the brewers warn consumers to drink this beer in moderation.

Peanut Butter Beer

While experimenting at the Blue Moon Brewing Company in Colorado, Keith Villa, the Blue Moon Brewmaster, came up with a peanut butter ale. According to Royal Griggs at OnMilwaukee.com, Villa used Jif peanut butter for this unique brew, which has even won some awards. Another idea that Villa has been toying with is creating a Black and Tan-type brew of his own using food flavors. The creation has a rasperry cream ale on the bottom and the peanut butter ale on top.

Banana Bread Beer

Wells & Young’s Brewing Company in Bedford, England, has created a Banana Bread Beer using real fair trade bananas. This dark golden ale has a crisp flavor, a malty aroma, and is tropically fruity with a hit of bitterness.

Eating in the Horn of Africa: camel, goat and. . .spaghetti?

Horn of Africa, Somaliland
When my wife and I went to the Horn of Africa last year for our Ethiopia road trip, we were eagerly looking forward to a culinary journey. We weren’t disappointed. Ethiopian food is one of our favorites and of course they make it better there than anywhere else!

While it came as no surprise that the food and coffee were wonderful, the cuisine in the Horn of Africa turned out to be more varied and nuanced that we expected. The two countries I’ve been to in the region, Ethiopia and Somaliland, have been connected to the global trade routes for millennia. Their national cuisines have absorbed influences from India, the Arab world, and most recently Italy.

Ethiopians love meat, especially beef and chicken. One popular dish is kitfo–raw, freshly slaughtered beef served up with various fiery sauces. I have to admit I was worried about eating this but I came through OK. Chicken is considered a luxury meat and is more expensive than beef. One Ethiopian friend was surprised to hear that in the West chicken is generally cheaper than beef.

Ethiopian booze is pretty good too. Tej is a delicious honey wine and tella is a barley beer. They also make several brands of lager and one of stout.

I’ve also spent time in the Somali region of Ethiopia and Somaliland. Living in arid lowlands rather than green and mountainous highlands, the Somalis have a very different cuisine than the Ethiopians. A surprising staple of Somali cooking is pasta. Actually on second thought it isn’t so surprising. The former Somalia was an Italian colony for a few decades. Italian food is popular in Eritrea and Ethiopia as well and makes for a refreshing change from local cuisine. Some Somalis are still pastoral nomads, moving through the arid countryside with their herds of camels and goats much like their ancestors did centuries ago. Pasta is a perfect food for nomads–compact, lightweight, nutritious, and easy to prepare.

The only downside to eating pasta in the Somali region is that Somalis, like most Africans, eat with their hand. I made quite a fool of myself trying to eat spaghetti with my hand!

%Gallery-136247%Goat is a popular meat in the Somali region and is served in a variety of ways. I love a good goat and have eaten it in a dozen countries. It’s tricky to cook, though, and can easily be overdone and end up stringy and flavorless. Good goat, however, is one of the best meats around. For some expert opinion, check out Laurel Miller’s fun post on the cultural aspects of eating goat.

While goat is the main meat for Somalis, what they really like is camel. These ships of the desert are expensive, so camel meat is usually reserved for special occasions like weddings. Wealthy, urban professionals eat it fairly regularly, though. At the Hadhwanaag Restaurant and Hotel in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, expert chefs slow-cook goat and camel in clay ovens that look much like tandoori ovens. The meat comes out deliciously tender and fragrant. Lunch at the Hadhwanaag was easily one of my top five meals in Africa.

Oh, and don’t forget Somali tea! A mixture of black tea, spices, and camel’s milk, it’s almost identical to Indian chai. The perfect pick-me-up after a long day seeing Somaliland’s painted caves or looking for your next edible ride at the camel market.

The Horn of Africa has an unfair reputation for warfare and famine. This is because it only gets on the news when something bad happens there. It makes a great adventure travel destination, though, and the determined traveler will find fascinating sights, friendly people, and great food. With any luck I’ll be back there in 2012!

10 unusual foods from around the world

Fried Tarantula in CambodiaWho doesn’t love trying new and exotic foods when traveling? Maybe some spicy curries in India, a selection of savory tapas in Spain, or some authentic…Pig’s Blood Cake? Check out this list of 10 unusual foods from around the world and see if your perspective on trying international cuisine doesn’t change.

Fried Tarantulas, Cambodia

According to Victoria Brewood at Bootsnall, you can find this delicacy in the streets of Sukon, Cambodia, fried whole with their legs, fangs, and all. Apparently, they taste great pan-fried with a pinch of garlic and salt and have a crispy outside and a gooey inside.

Pig’s Blood Cake, Taiwan

This unique dish is prepared with sticky rice and hot pig’s blood. When the mixture becomes solid it is coated with peanut powder and cilantro then formed into a flat cake and sliced. This meal is usually dipped in various sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, or soy sauce.Pig's Blood Cake in TaiwanHaggis, Scotland

This Scottish dish contains the internal organs of a sheep, including the liver, heart, and lungs. Mix this with some chopped onions, raw beef or mutton’s fat, salt, and spices. Once this is ready, you stuff it into a sheep intestine as sausage and simmer inside the animal’s stomach. Dinner will be ready in 3 hours!

Drunken Shrimp, China

When hearing the name of this dish, I had kind of hoped it was a cute play on words of some kind. In reality, the name should be taken very literally, as these are shrimp that are actually stunned with strong liquor and then consumed alive. Not shockingly, there have been some problems with this meal of uncooked seafood as there is the health risk of Paragonimiasis, a food-borne parasitic infection.

Live Octopus, Korea

I can’t help but think of Fear Factor as I write this entry. Sannakji, as it is known, is an octopus that is prepared and cut while still alive. It is served while still squirming, and should be chewed well as the suction of the tentacles can stick to the inside of your mouth and throat.

Silkworms, China

This insect is cultivated and bred in factories and sold in local markets for cooking. While you can prepare them anyway you like, popular silkworm dishes include Crispy Silkworms and Silkworm Kebabs.

Bear Claw Stew, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan

Soup made from the claws of bears is a delicacy in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and is literally sold for hundreds of dollars. The bear meat in the stew is actually believed to be a health and sexual-performance booster. According to nerdygaga.com as well as factsanddetails.com, environmentalists are protesting the practice of making bear claw stew, as bears are being tortured in front of diners before being cooked, as it is said to make the meat taste better.

Casu Marzu, Italy

This decomposing cheese made from sheep’s milk is, according to Alka Sharma of Environmental Graffiti, full of squirming white worms. Casu Marzu is made when the cheese fly lays its eggs, which is usually about 500 at one time, and the maggots that hatch eat their way through the cheese. Because the digestive system of the maggots breaks down the fat of the cheese, it gives it a very soft texture. The key to eating this unusual food is that it must be eaten while the maggots are still alive and wriggling, unless you want a bowl full of dead maggots (this, apparently, is considered unfit for consumption).

Ying Yang Fish, China

This fish is unlike most seafood delicacies, as it is half dead, half alive. While the top half of the fish is uncooked and moving, the bottom half is deep fried and covered in sweet and sour sauce.

Corn Fungus, Latin America

Also known as Corn Smut, this food, which looks very similar to grey brain matter, is a “pathogenic plant fungus that causes plant disease on maize (corn)” and is often used as filling for quesadillas. According to Martha Mendoza on MSNBC.com, Corn Smut is actually good for you, as it contains protein, minerals, and other nutritional values.

10 best smartphone apps for food enthusiasts

truxmap smartphone app for foodiesNowadays, there is a smartphone application for anything and everything. Food enthusiasts, wine connisseurs, and beer buffs will love these 10 handy smartphone applications. From beer and meal pairing to restaurant finding to where to eat that spicy burger that Adam Richman inhaled on Man vs. Food last night, there’s an app here for you.

TruxMap

With food trucks being such a popular trend, it’s only right to include a smartphone app that caters to it. This application includes a real time gourmet food truck map for many major cities in the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas and more. Once you download the app, you will first select a city. From there, you will be taken to a map that will show you where food trucks are open at that moment as well as locations that food trucks will be opening soon. Menus, food photos, directions, and the chance to submit your own reviews are other features of this app.

Available on iPhone and Android. Free.
epicurious restaurant finder smartphone app for foodiesEpicurious

Food lovers will enjoy using this app to search, browse, save, and e-mail over 30,000 recipes in their database as well as create shopping lists. Search for ingredients and browse through categories, such as healthy lunches or party snacks, to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Available on iPhone and Android. Free.

Zagat

Zagat is a well-known, trusted source in the world of restaurant recommendations, and their smartphone app brings this and more. While users will be able to browse over 30,000 restaurants to read reviews and ratings, there are other features to this app, as well. GPS allows for the ability to find nearby eateries, while their visual menus give people the chance to actually see photos of what they will be eating. Top Rated Lists, such as Best Burgers and Most Romantic, and the chance to write your own reviews are also available on this app.

Available on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. $9.99 annually.

OpenTable

This is a great app for those who want to be able to find specific restaurants in their location but don’t want to pay a yearly fee for a smartphone app. OpenTable allows users to search restaurants by name or category, make reservations, view restaurant menus, get directions, and view interactive maps. You can even earn dining points that can be used to earn Dining Cheques for when eating at OpenTable restaurants.

Available on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. Free.

cor.kz wine smartphone app for foodies Cor.kz

Wine connoisseurs will love this app, which gives users instant access to information on over 1,000,000 bottles of wine. All you have to do is type in the name of a bottle of wine or scan its barcode and the app will supply you with over 2,000,000 ratings and notes on the blend from wine experts. Other features include browsing by region or varietals, seeing Cor.kz staff wine picks, learning popular glossary terms on wine, and a “Daily Sip” magazine column.

Available on iPhone. $2.99.

Beer Hero

Brew lovers out there now have a smartphone app that caters specifically to what they love best, beer! This app not only allows users to read rankings of over 1,000 microbrews across the United States and find local brewpubs, it also helps you pair which food will go best with your beer of choice, and will tell you where nearby you can enjoy this perfect combination.

Available on iPhone ($1.99) and Android ($2.99).

Seafood Watch

This smartphone app was designed by the Montery Bay Aquarium in Montery, California, in order to help users find “up-to-date recommendations for ocean-friendly seafood and sushi”. Read reviews and ratings from others as well as post your own. Other features of this eco-friendly app include information on how different menu items should be fished or farmed, health guides, and GPS integration to allow for pertinent regional guides for users.

Available on iPhone and Android. Free.

tv food maps smartphone app for foodiesTVFoodMaps

The Travel Channel and Food Network come to together in this app to help users find the restaurants and eateries they see on their favorite TV shows, such as Man vs. Food, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Drive-Ins and Dives, and more. Find restaurants nearby, read reviews, get directions, and, when available, watch TV clips from the restaurant on YouTube.

Available on iPhone and Android. Free.

Tipping Bird

It can often be confusing knowing when to tip and how much when traveling. This app takes care of that for you by allowing users to choose the region they are in and get recommendations from the app on what the tipping etiquette is for different situations, including restaurants, bars, hotels, taxis, and travel tours. This app will also convert your home currency to the currency of your destination and calculate the tip for you. No thinking involved.

Available on Android. Free.

MyFitnessPal

For those who love food, this smartphone app makes it easy to indulge without going overboard. The app has a database of over 1,185,000 foods and restaurants to search nutrition facts, and allows you to log what you’ve eaten as well as your exercise for the day.

Available on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. Free.