Backpocket Brewing

When I was playing volleyball at the University of Iowa, I was fortunate enough to have some great parents that came as often as they could. They would come in on Friday morning, we'd grab lunch (at a new spot each time) I'd play some volleyball, they'd go to the football game Saturday, I'd play some more volleyball and we would hang out at the Marriott. Now, in the same parking lot from the Marriott is this brewery called, Backpocket - where they obviously serve beer and pizza pies and we'd order up the beer cheese and a few pies to eat in the hotel room. 

As you all know I love myself some pizza. Something else you might also know is that our family (especially my dad) loves them some beer. So, when dad was in town for a few days and we needed to grab a good quick bite (that wasn't downtown), I knew BP was the place to go. 

This was the first time I was able to head back and give them a try since they changed up their pie menu. 

BBQ CHICKEN - Sriracha bourbon bbq sauce, chicken, jalapeno, goat cheese, pecorino, red pepper sauce. 

Now I originally chose this pie because E loves him some BBQ chicken - didn't go as far as to check the Sriracha & jalapenos. For a kid that doesn't like heat this was a big "oops". None the less, it was a good pie, I didn't love the bbq sauce but the heat of the jalapenos (that we picked off) brought some good extra flavor. 

MARGHERITA - fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato sauce

Lets be real, can you go wrong with a margherita pizza? If so, chances are you shouldn't have a pie place homie. Anyways, basic but good. 

FLAMBE caramelized onions, pork belly, fresh mozzarella, pecorino, bechamel sauce

I originally ordered this one for Dad (pork belly duh!), but it turned out to be my favorite. I LOVE a white sauce on pizzas, however that is one of the few things Ethan won't do at for our home pies (that and mushrooms) so receiving that was a pleasant surprise. I just wanted to hoard all of the pork belly pieces to myself, it was different & delicious. 

 

All in all, the new pies were great. It's quick & easy & tasty. Also, I love how they cut them in an almost zig zag - you got a bit of everything in each piece. 

Clinton Street Social Club

It's pretty rare that I haven't tried a new place in iowa city. However there is a tiny little spot downtown Iowa City that I hadn't been to yet, so when my friend mentioned it I was 100% ready to go. 

This classy gastro pub speakeasy is the last thing that you would expect to be squeezed in between a burger joint and a nail salon in the heart of downtown Iowa City. You walk up a small flight of stairs and get taken back a decade (or century) or so, definitely has a jazzy, laid back, classic vibe. 

The diversity in the cocktail menu is less intimidating and more intriguing.  I literally wanted one of everything, so being posted up bar side wasn't the worst thing in the world. 

Blood Money:  Ridgemont Reserve 1792 Bourbon, House Made Blackberry Mint Shrub, Fresh Lime

I started off with the Blood Money, the blackberry flavor definitely shines through and there is just the slightest punch from the bourbon. 

She wore lemon:  russian vodka, st. germain, ginger liqueur, lemon, ricard, bitters

Next up, She Wore Lemon, this was amazing. It was light and refreshing with a licorice kick at the end. The bartender let us try the Ricard alone, I was so in love. 

Mussels: white wine, fennel, roasted tomato, Niçoise Olive, baguette

In between all the delicious sips a little substance was in order. I feel like I'm usually not accompanied by those who would like to order up some Mussels (excluding my family), so I was pleasantly surprised - not only by the order but by the flavor too. Everything on point, and who doesn't love soaking up that juice with pieces of crostini?! 

Then came one of my go to's - SAZERAC :America’s Oldest Cocktail Rye, Peychaud’s Bitters, Herbsaint . This is just a simple whiskey drink with all of the flavors. At this point, I forgot about pictures and was too in deep with my cocktails.  

Last but not least, the à La fille: El Mayor Blanco Tequila, Fresh Cucumber, Fresh Lime, Agave Syrup, Soda. At this point, I just wanted something refreshing and for me, that means cucumber and tequila! This cocktail wasn't in a dainty glass like the others were, so I was a little taken back by this large cocktail after I was already 3 deep. No worries, it was just as light and refreshing as I had hoped. 

Overall the experience at Social Club was stellar, our bartender was informative,fun, and knew just when to chime in (Thanks David!). The cocktails did not disappoint and the mussels left me just wanting more.

Can't wait for the next round and I have my eye on that poutine. 

Scotchy Scotch Scotch

I'm starting to spread my horizons...

...on alcohol that is. I would always steer clear of dark liquors & only drink barefoot riesling - I know terrible. I've gotten past the riesling stage (thank goodness) and never turn down a good bottle of Cab Sav. Now, whiskey & scotch are the lucky two that I have been attempting to be more accustomed to.  

My home away from home, Blackstone  , was accompanied by Dan Crowell from Glenmorangie & Ardbeg distilleries to spend an "evening in Scotland" while tasting some great scotch paired with delicious food. I was 100% in. 

The night started off with scotch lesson 101 - how to taste scotch. Head here to find a similar step by step process to hold your own with the Scotch aficionados.

Following the tutorial, we had a penicillin cocktail - glenmorangie 10 year, honey, candied ginger, ardbeg & 10 year smoke float. This cocktail on its own was amazing, the candied ginger & honey really pull the sweetness through and then it was infused with the 10 year smoke float. The smoke really did bring some of the smoky flavors that is embodied in the ardbeg 10 year. 

Thenn the real fun started - the food pairings. 


First up - Growing Wise

 The glenmorangie 10 year & ardbeg 10 year expressions paired with shrimp etouffee - classic cajun style, shrimp, rice

The cajun took you straight back to N'awlins and gave you a little spicy kick with the rice to calm everything back down. we paired this with two very different scotches from the east & west - definitely gave a strong start to the night. 

Second course: Beef wellington & Glenmorangie 3 ways

1 - Lasanta 12 year paired with double mushroom ragu wellington. 2 - Nectar D'Or 12 year paired with green pepper corn wellington. 3 - Quinta Ruban 12 year paired with almond bacon chutney wellington. 

This dish made polishing off three wellys a little too easy. The pairings between the bitter of scotch with the different form of cream or fat from each wellington really worked out well. My favorite was the green pepper corn, I was on the verge of licking my plate clean. 

Third course: Sweet & Savory

Glenmorangie Mislean aged in ex-bourbon & re-toasted former wine casks paired with a double brined buttermilk fried chicken slider with honey aioli & slaw on a potato bun.

For starters, we were informed this mislean will only be made once, once the bottles run out - it's out. So we got to feel fancy as we gave this a special taste (which it was really good - probably my favorite...behind the penicillin cocktail). But this sandwich yall...hands down the best fried chicken I've ever had. First things first, it was a chicken thigh, which I am all for. Then, the honey aioli paried with a jalapeno slaw on a doughy potato bun...I wish I could describe its goodness but I just have no words. 

Fourth & final course: Pick - Me - Up

Coffee cocktail - Glenmorangie 10 year, java house cold brew, pipe tobacco, & grand marnier 100 crema paired with a housemade tiramisu cupcake. 

At this point I was pretty damn full from the rice, 3 beef wellingtons, and a fried chicken sandwich...but let's be real everyone has room for a little dessert. This coffee cocktail reminded me of an iced Irish coffee (which just made me get nostalgic and want to go back to San Fran with my family and drink Irish Coffee's at The Buena Vista ) and I appreciated the pick me up after some scotch tastes & a major food baby. One of the guys at our table decided to swipe the whipped cream from the coffee cocktail & top the cupcake with it...we all followed his lead. It was a perfect energizing & sweet ending to a delicious night. 

This night in general was such a great treat - the scotch & food was superb but the company was even better. Dan Crowell was beyond enlightening on how to drink scotch, what to eat it with, when you should add water & how long to wait, I mean the list goes on and on. I was particularly lucky with my table company - I mentioned my blog and we got on the topic of pizza for a good portion of the night. We dished out our favorite pizza spots in town as well as certain tips & tricks from our own pizza making. per usual, blackstone did not dissapoint. 

I can't wait for the next time to challenge my taste buds while expanding my tummy.