It's Crawfish Season!

My first crawfish boil was in Houston at my friend’s relative’s house when I was still in college. It was quite the social event. Eager friends and family stood surrounding this long folding table that was covered with thin plastic. Next thing I know, pounds and pounds of seasoned crawfish, corn, and potatoes were piled onto the table and thus began the feast.

There’s a skill in peeling and eating crawfish. First, suck the juices from the shell of the tail to get some of the flavors and spices. Then, pull the tail off the head, crack and peel off the tail shell, eat the tail meat. If the claws were big enough, you’d use your molars to crack through the exterior to get to the claw meat. Some enjoyed sucking the crawfish head and eating the “brains.” I was hooked after that first crawfish boil. It was a fantastically delicious experience.

Last Easter Sunday, I was invited to a crawfish boil at my friends’ house for dinner. Man oh man was the crawfish amazing. I don’t know what was in my friend’s secret sauce recipe, but the crawfish was piping hot, magnificently flavorful, and with just the right amount of spiciness. I did make one pleasant discovery while I enjoyed the delicious crawfish and I knew I had to make it the topic of my next blog post: Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple Hard Cider.


Prior to arriving for Easter dinner, I stopped by a convenience store to pick up a some beverages. I knew a few of my friends who’d be there don’t really like beer, so I picked up some cider for them. During dinner, I figured I’d try a bottle because I’d never had Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple, and what a fantastic discovery I made. It was the perfect combination to go with the crawfish. Not only was it so refreshing and helped soothe my tongue which was “on fire” from the spiciness, but I thought it complemented the flavors particularly well and it wasn’t too heavy or filling.

While beer is generally made from barley and flavored with hops, cider is created from apple juice. Not all ciders are alcoholic, but the ones that are alcoholic are commonly known as hard cider while the non-alcoholic ciders are called apple cider.

According to their website, Angry Orchard adds wine yeast to the freshly pressed apple juice, and then it goes through a fermentation process in which the sugar is converted to alcohol. During fermentation, the cider is wood aged, adding subtle spice and vanilla flavors. (!/cider/)

The Crisp Apple Hard Cider has an alcohol content of 5% ABV (Alcohol By Volume). It has just the right amount of sweetness and the carbonation makes it really refreshing and crisp to drink.

Some foods that pair well with the Crisp Apple, per Angry Orchard’s recommendation, are creamy cheeses, spicy dishes, and BBQ. (!/food/)

There’s a short, quick video on their website that talks about food pairings with the Apple Crisp. You can watch it here:!/crisp-apple/.

What are some of your favorite food pairings with hard cider?

Warm Beer, Party of One

I will always remember my first beer experience. I was in college at my friend’s apartment. My friends were all drinking beer and offered me one. And as they paired off, I suddenly found myself as the fifth wheel. So there I was, awkwardly sipping my first can of watered-down, tasteless beer. Instead of watching my friends make out with their boyfriends, I tried to kill time watching TV in my friend’s bedroom. It took me two hours to finish that can of beer. By that time, it was warm and every forced sip was immediately followed with a grimace. Needless to say, it made for a very anti-climatic first experience.

But I didn’t let that discourage me from trying beer again. I knew that beer is an acquired taste and I soon discovered that I enjoyed beer more when it had more flavor and wasn’t watered down. Craft beers peaked my interest because of their bold flavors and thus began my newfound appreciation for well-brewed beer.

By no means am I an expert with beers. I’m quite the opposite. I just really enjoy trying new craft beers, but I admit that I know very little about them. It’s been a long time dream of mine to start a blog about beer and wine as a way to actually start learning more about them and how to pair them with different recipes and meals that we share here on 1-2 Simple Cooking. So, if you’re in the same boat with me, where you don’t know much about them but want to learn, join me on my journey through this blog and we’ll learn together!

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to encourage irresponsible drinking behavior. The purpose of this journey is to build an appreciation for beer, wine, and other libations through the exploration of the craft of brewing beer, winemaking, and distilling. The beers, wines, and liquors I’ll be exploring aren’t drinks to chug at some house party, but rather they’re meant to be responsibly enjoyed and appreciated, especially while in the company of good friends and good food.


So where to start?


I have a good friend, Ryan, who’s worked in the beer industry since we graduated from college. One of my favorite stories that he's told me about is the origins of the India Pale Ale, or IPA. The India Pale Ale, formerly known as “Pale Ale prepared for India,” was formulated to survive the long voyages from England to India. The beer brewers discovered that adding more hops to pale ales not only gave it more flavor, but it also helped keep the beer from spoiling.

Most of my friends, especially girl friends, aren’t fans of IPAs because they tend to be bitter and “too hoppy” for them. I think for me, once I got over the “bitterness,” it’s really about the boldness and strong flavors in the IPA that compliment the “bitterness” to create its unique taste. Watered down light beer is boring to me. But IPAs? Man, IPAs are definitely not boring.

My favorite IPA? Thus far, it’s been Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute Imperial IPA. I’ve yet to try their 120-minute IPA (it’s so hard to find!), but I think their 90-minute IPA is one of the smoothest, best tasting IPAs and it’s actually not as bitter as you would expect it to be. There is a slight sweetness in the beer that I think makes it such an enjoyable experience for the tastebuds.


The “90-minute” refers to the length of their continuous hopping process. For 90 minutes, they continuously add hops to the brew while it’s brewing. You can watch their short video about this beer here:

It’s a pretty potent beer with an alcohol content of 9.0% ABV (Alcohol By Volume). A quick Google search says that on average beer in the United States usually ranges between 4.2% to 5% ABV, so one pint of the 90-minute IPA is definitely enough for me.

Ooo! The the Dogfish Head website even displays interesting notes and tips about the beer:

The brewery’s food pairing recommendations for this 90-minute IPA? Pork chops, beef, grilled fish, frites, focaccia, split pea soup, Stilton cheese & escargot. Nice! I will need to try this with our pan-seared steak recipe!


What are some of your favorite IPAs and what is your favorite food pairing with that beer?