Thursday, July 7, 2016

St. Louis Premium Framboise, Raspberry Beer Bliss

St. Louis Premium Framboise overflows with good old-fashioned raspberry taste. Bierkasteel Van Honsebrouck, a brewery in Belgium, brews it. Their lambic style fruit beer gets its intoxicating taste from 25 percent Willamette raspberry juice. What makes it very drinkable is its low Alcohol By Volume (ABV) rate of 2.8 percent.

St. Louis Premium Framboise Ale guest tap, Daytona Beach Brewing
Company, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
I encountered this bliss in a glass through a guest tap at the Florida based Daytona Beach Brewing Company last month.

At first sniff I was in love. This was the rich raspberry scent of my childhood, not the current worn out scent of supermarket shelved fruit.

As I continued to breath in the aroma of this beer the walls of the Daytona Beach Brewing Company melted away and I was transported back in time to my favorite childhood raspberry patch in Maine. The smell of the beer was the same as what would emerge from my patch on the hottest, calmest days of summer when the birds were sleeping and the bees were buzzing.

The bushes were always heavy with warm, plump, ripe red berries ready for the picking. And I would always push my way deep into the patch ignoring scratches from thorns as I searched for the one perfect berry.

It was always a raspberry that fell easily into my hand leaving a sweet red smear of fruit on my skin as I popped it into my mouth. And as the sweet elixir juice of that berry from my past trickled down my throat the walls of the Daytona Beach Brewery Company suddenly reappear and I realized I had taken my first sip of Framboise.

I was glad I bought a snifter ($6) so I could relive my childhood with each additional sip. It was mouthwateringly delicious with a crisp, tart finish just like my wild raspberries.

Unfortunately, the Daytona Beach Brewing Company no longer has that beer on tap but the Belgian company Bierkasteel Van Honsebrouck does sell it by the bottle.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Green Mango & Spicy Shrimp Paste, Fla. Style

It’s mango season again in South Florida. And that means Thai sour, unripe, green mangoes are available to satiate my Asian treat tooth.

Florida grown sour, green, unripe mango and spicy shrimp paste,
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
I spent part of my childhood in Thailand where I learned to love sour, spicy, salty food combinations. One that I picked up, and kept, was eating sour green mangoes with spicy shrimp paste.

Thai mangoes have several names, depending on the nursery that grows them, but basically they have a thin, wavy shape with green skin on the outside. Inside, their flesh ranges in color from slightly pale green to yellow.

Their flavor ranges from very tart lemon/granny smith apple taste to slightly tart. And their texture is crisp and juicy.

The shrimp paste has a strong fishy smell to it and is very spicy if eaten straight.

But sour, unripe, Thai mangoes have a very high starch content which equalizes the heat of the chili peppers in the shrimp paste.

I bought my mango at a Lantana fruit stand and shrimp paste (Ginisang Bagoong brand) at Kabayan Oriental Mart in Royal Palm Beach, Fla.

Both the salt and spice bring out the flavors of the mango, but it’s really the spice that matters. I’ve tried going non spicy but the flavors were not the same.

So if you are into adventurous food pairings then check out this one. I think you will be amazed at how well they go together.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Unbelievable Acres Botanic Garden, Rainforest, WPB, Fla.

West Palm Beach, Fla.—Tour Unbelievable Acres Botanic Garden and save yourself a plane ticket to Brazil. Gene Joyner started his botanical garden in 1970 with the intention of making it into a self-sustaining rainforest. It is situated on 2.5-acres of land, with a one-mile path, and a collection of over 2000 plants, 150 of which are tropical fruit trees.

Unbelievable Acres Botanic Garden, Tropical Rainforest, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
I’m walking with a diverse group of people, on a warm May afternoon, through a thick forest of plants with Joyner. Mulch crunches underfoot and the only other sounds are those of Joyner as he points out plants telling us about their histories, growing challenges and tips.

Gene Joyner of Unbelievable Acres Botanic Garden,
Tropical Rainforest, West Palm Beach, Fla.,
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
Grabbing hold of a thick piece of bamboo he says, “Indian bamboo can grow 80 feet in one season.” Many people in our group have questions, which he answers with ease.

“A lot of these plants haven’t seen fertilizer in 25 years,” says Joyner. He adds he only gives fertilizer to new tree plantings. And as for pesticides, he uses none except for lizards. “They are very good at controlling pests,” Joyner says with a smile.

Bamboo grove, Unbelievable Acres Botanic Garden, West Palm
Beach, Fla. Copyright 2016 Helen A Lockey
The soil was originally sugar sand but with years of mulching and allowing the plants to naturally decompose their leaves and other parts, the land now has a rich layer of dark topsoil. “I’ve built up six inches of topsoil in 30 years,” said Joyner.

Some of the results are a 80-foot tall Kapok Tree, a 40-year old cashew Nut Tree, a 40-year-old Baobab Tree and a 35-year old bamboo stand started from a single section of bamboo.

Joyner has travelled the world to source his plants for his garden. Now he also travels to educate people about plants.

Sausage Tree pods at Unbelievable Acres Botanic Garden,
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
At the front entrance there is a large Sausage Tree with large, brown colored, hard shelled sausage shaped fruits hanging from long chord. These are inedible for humans, Joyner says but in Africa where the tree is from Giraffe and Hippos love the fruit. And the local women use it in the fermentation process of their honey beer.

If you want to go to the garden it is open to the public on the second Tuesday of every month and costs $10 a person.

But if you want to visit at any other time you have to call the garden 561-242-1686, and leave a message for a reservation.

The Unbelievable Acres Botanic Garden is located at 470 63rd Trail N, West Palm Beach, FL 33413.

Parking is limited so if you can car pool then do so. They have mosquito spray and water available at the kiosk where you pay to get in.