Monday, July 18, 2011

Beer Burgers Blues & Bangers

My parents offered to take me anywhere I wanted for lunch yesterday - it was my birthday - and after thinking about it for a little while, I decided what really sounded nice to me was to sit in the tented dining room of Firefly Bistro and listen to some acoustic blues during Firefly's "Sunday Blues Brunch." I've done that before a few times over the years - I wrote about it once back in 2008 - and it's always an enjoyable time.

Elizabeth has said many times that she would simply like to live in the restaurant, and I've always understood why.

Barry "Big B" Brenner was taking a short break so I snapped a pic of his impressive collection of guitars.

I ordered myself a Turbodog. They served it in a Chimay glass, which seemed ridiculous, but it was still Turbodog.

I did not have any toast nor jam, but my dad seemed to enjoy it.

My mom had the Green Goddess Omelet: artichoke hearts, spinach, asparagus, gruyere, and parsley pesto. 
My dad selected the Shrimp & Ratatouille Omelet, with goat cheese and basil. Both of my parents loved their omelets. 

I, on the other hand, wanted the Firefly Cheeseburger, and I wanted it medium-rare. This was almost perfect. The bun was as good a burger bun as I have ever had, the meat was full of flavor, and the onions, pickles and cheese were great. Perhaps I would have enjoyed a little less of the Thousand Island dressing (actually, the meat was so good I would have preferred no dressing) but that's a very minor complaint.

And the home fries were perhaps the best I have ever had.

This was definitely one of the better ideas I have had lately. The whole thing was great.

My friend Tim had invited a few people over to his place to chill and try out his new summer ale that he brewed. (He claimed that in honor of it being my birthday he was calling it the "Justin Time For Summer" ale.) I had thought there would only be a couple of people there, but it turned out there were eight of us.

Carla had brought some cheeses, just like she usually does. "Where did you get them?" I asked.

"At the ghetto Whole Foods," she replied.

(This is somewhat of a joke between us. There are two Whole Foods in Pasadena. The one in East Pasadena has been open for more than a decade and is a great market, the kind of market that would be envied by many, many people around the world. But ever since the Whole Foods on Arroyo Parkway opened in 2007, the older one seems kind of cramped and, well, almost pathetic by comparison. The newer location is 77,000 square feet - 9,000 more than the one I visited in New York City a few years ago, which blew me away - and has an overwhelming selection of cheeses.)

She bought Humboldt Fog, of course, as well as Asiago, brie, salami, and a cheese she picked out just for me: cheddar with Cajun spices rubbed into it. All of the cheeses were great. If this had been all we had to eat I would have been happy.

Tim made a cocktail that a European friend of his claims is very popular at the moment: an Aperol spritz. It was certainly refreshing on a hot day, but I'm a beer guy and I only drank one of these.

The summer ale, which Tim brewed with Centennial hops, was outstanding. I enjoyed it much more than the cocktail, and I drank several glasses of it.

Everyone toasted the nice afternoon. Then I realized what a great photo that would be, so I asked them all to do it again. I can be annoying sometimes.

Tim turned his attention to the grill, throwing on some sweet corn, one of my favorite things to eat and perfectly complementing the summer ale.

He had also gone up to Taylor's in Sierra Madre and picked up two different kinds of sausage. I'd had Taylor's sausage the day before for lunch, which meant... well, nothing really. I could eat grilled sausage every day.

Grilled sausage, homemade potato and broccoli salads, grilled corn, homemade beer, and a few friends sitting on a patio on a warm summer evening. If you can think of a better way to spend your birthday, more power to you. I can not.

Tracie made a citrus cake that I loved. She thought it was too dry, and indeed it was a little on the dry side, but nobody complained and we almost finished the whole thing.

I gotta say it was a good day.


Fritos and Foie Gras said...

Woohoo happy belated birthday! What was in the middle of the citrus cake and how did she frost it? It is so gorgeous looking - I would love to try my hand at it! like a brunch restaurant?!

JustinM said...

Hopefully Tracie will see your question and respond.

If every ridiculous brunch place offered great burgers and blues music, I would have a lot less hatred for brunch.

Liz said...

First, brunch is amazing! And not every place is a "ridiculous" brunch place, but I see your point.

Everything looks amazing, and I hope there is still some beer left when I get back. It is delicious!

JustinM said...

I did not say every brunch place is ridiculous! (Although every one I have ever been to sure is.)

We definitely drank more than half of the beer - we killed the first quarter-keg while it was still light out.

Nosh Gnostic said...

My brunch bitch is for the "pay one price for our crappy buffet" places. I've never felt anything other than ripped off and stupid after going to one of these (exception: Ritz Carlton - very expensive but the quality of the food is phenomenal and I don't mind hanging out there all morning in the luxurious setting).

Liz, I'm giving the beer a rest until next weekend. There should be about 2/3 keg left.

mindful mule said...

Happy Birthday!
Barry “Big B” is the best!
Although, for me, it’s just not brunch without baklava and belly dancers…
Beer, yum.
Corn, yum.
Citrus Mint Cake, yum.

Banana Wonder said...

Happy belated! You always make me want to eat burgers - and Firefly's is looking mighty tasty - in addition to the home fries. You have got some great friends too! Is there a home-brewer phenomenon happening in So Cal now?

JustinM said...

Well, I've always had a few friends who dabbled in home-brewing, but overall it's not as big a deal as other places I have spent a lot of time, like Oregon and Colorado.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Pulled Porker!!
Every day eat likes it's your birthday.