Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club In Seattle

I haven’t really researched much, but I can only imagine there are few places around the world where you can rent a kayak and then fill your belly on Mexican food and drinks all in one location. That’s exactly what you can do at Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club in Seattle, and that’s what makes the place so special. Some would even argue that Agua Verde has the best fish tacos in the city!

Agua Verde Seattle Sign

Agua Verde

My friend Tove and I checked out Agua Verde (located on Portage Bay between Lake Union and Lake Washington) during our Seattle staycation. My mom insisted that we try their fish tacos. Right when I got to Agua Verde, I realized I’d been there before. My mom took me there for a paddle and some food when I was a kid. I remembered the eats being pretty darn good, so it got my appetite all revved up.

Tove and I didn’t take part in the kayaking this time around, instead we just went for food (which is made fresh from scratch daily). We got there on the early side of happy hour (Monday-Thursday from 4pm-6pm), so we were seated immediately. We wanted a table outside, but we were told those were only for people taking part in happy hour (having drinks/eating chips and salsa). That was a little disappointing (because it was a beautiful summer day), but the rules are the rules.

Since the Agua Verde fish tacos came highly recommended, I honestly didn’t look at much of the menu. I asked our server which fish tacos he liked the best, and he quickly said the catfish (‘Bagre’ on the menu). I have a tough time making my own decisions, so I took his advice and ordered the catfish, while Tove went for the fried cod (‘Bacalao’ on the menu).

Agua Verde Fish Tacos

Catfish (Bagre) Tacos

The food was as good as advertised, but I can’t go as far as saying Agua Verde has the best fish tacos in Seattle (only because they’re the ONLY fish tacos I’ve had in Seattle so far). The tacos (there are two of them) are served with a side of rice, and black beans and cheese. Tove couldn’t finish both of her tacos so I was able to compare the fried cod and catfish. I think the catfish was better, but just because it packed a little spice.

I wish I would have known this when I was there, but Agua Verde makes its own home-made drinks (including margaritas) from scratch too. In fact, the Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club only serves local and sustainable food on their menu. The fruits and vegetables are all organic, the meat comes from farm-raised animals without growth hormones or antibiotics, and the seafood is caught or raised using eco-friendly techniques.

Again, Tove and I didn’t rent kayaks at Agua Verde, but my mom and I did years ago. I remember paddling to Gas Works Park on Lake Union. From some of the reviews I’ve read, it sounds like the prices are a little steep at the paddle club, but I honestly have no idea how much it should cost. The happy hour deal at Agua Verde sounds pretty sweet though. You can rent kayaks for three hours for the price of two hours, and since the boats need to back by 4pm to get the deal, you can then walk right into the cafe for the start of happy hour there (again, Monday-Thursday from 4pm-6pm).

Since I just moved back to Seattle, there are several new restaurants I’d like to try before I head back to Agua Verde. There’s no doubt I’ll be back again though. I’ll definitely go for a paddle, and then come back for some fish tacos next time. That sounds like an awesome summer afternoon to me!

Have you ever been to Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club? What did you think of their food? How about the kayaking? I’d love to hear from you. You can simply leave a message below or you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on Seattle, sports, music and more!

Pierogi Recipe | Enjoy This Polish Favorite In Your Home

I don’t know much about my family tree, but I do know that my mom’s side of the family immigrated to the United States from Poland. My grandpa is very proud of his heritage, and his wife (of German descent) embraced his Polish roots as well. That’s why our family pierogi recipe has been passed down from generation to generation. Now I want to share our pierogi recipe with you!

Pierogi Recipe

Pierogi and sausage

My family used to eat pierogi (a traditional Polish dumpling) every Christmas, but that tradition has faded away. Pierogi (the plural word for pierog (I just learned this today), so you technically shouldn’t call them pierogis (like I did my entire life) – it’s like saying mooses) are now just cooked up for special occasions, including my mom’s birthday party last night. It was the first time anyone in my family has made them in years, so we were all excited. Pierogi are just one of those foods that make us happy!

I don’t know our family pierogi recipe word-for-word (I’ll learn it eventually), but I can pass along everything my sister and mom have told me:

My great-great grandma used to make pierogi dough from scratch, but my mom says that’s a pain in the butt. My mom’s aunt then started using Pillsbury-type dough for the pierogi recipe, so our family now “cheats” on the recipe all the time. I know my sister used crescent roll dough for her pierogi last night, but my mom says she usually uses dinner biscuit dough. That way the dough is already cut into circles, so you just need to roll it flat. My mom says cheat pierogi ”pretty much” taste the same as pierogi made from scratch.

We’re big eaters in my family, so my sister made a lot of pierogi last night. That means it was a timely process. My sister says it took her two hours to just roll the dough and wrap the pierogi. Our family fills the pierogi with sauerkraut, but they are also traditionally filled with potato, ground meet, cheese and even fruit. My mom says she’s even used cottage cheese as filling (but she warns that you have to mix the cottage cheese with egg to hold it all together).

Polish Pierogi And Sausage

Pierogi and sausage

When using sauerkraut for your pierogi, be sure to drain/strain (just like you would pasta) it really well. If there’s too much liquid in the sauerkraut, your pierogi will likely fall apart (my sister needed to toss two pierogi last night, because she didn’t drain the sauerkraut well enough). It needs to be pretty darn dry.

Once the pierogi are filled (place them on wax paper, because they are sticky), you put them in boiling water to cook the dough. My mom says you need to make sure the pierogi are closed tightly, otherwise you’ll lose your filling. She advises brushing some egg around the edges of your pierogi (before you wrap them) to help the dough stay together. My mom also says you should use a light boil, because a rolling boil will open up your pierogi. I wasn’t part of the boiling process, but my sister says eight minutes for the pierogi is usually good enough.

My sister puts the boiled pierogi on metal racks to let them drip dry. My mom says that she would even boil her pierogi in the morning, and then let them sit until dinner time to make sure they dried out a bit (even though she warns that you don’t want them to be too dry). After the pierogi dry out, they then go into a frying pan (I actually helped with this part last night). All it takes is some butter (some also fry pierogi with onion), high heat on the stove, and simply cook the pierogi until they are golden brown on each side.

After that — your pierogi are ready to be served!

Our dinner last night consisted of pierogi, and sausage and beer (Zywiec, Perla and Warka) from a Polish market in Seattle. It was an authentic Polish feast, and one that you can now enjoy in your own home as well!

Na zdrowie!

Please let me know if you have any questions on the pierogi recipe. I can find the answers for you. I’d also love to know how it goes for you once you try or family pierogi recipe. You can simply leave a message below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on food, music, sports and more!

Hofbrauhaus | The World Famous Beer Hall In Munich

I’m convinced Munich is heaven on Earth. Any city on the planet that features beer gardens and beer houses on their maps (marked with massive, overflowing steins) is a place for me. I encourage you to check out several different beer halls when you’re in Munich (they’re all over the place — in the middle of the park, smack dab in the center of a street market — literally everywhere), but you MUST stop by the world famous Hofbrauhaus.

Hofbrauhaus Munich Germany

Hofbrauhaus

Munich was the final stop on my trip to Europe back in June. Germany was the eighth country my mom and I visited on our whirlwind 20 day trip, so I was starting to wear down a little bit. Don’t get me wrong — I could have stayed in Europe forever, but I just couldn’t stomach another art museum or fancy church. I just wanted to eat, drink and be merry in the capital of Bavaria.

My mom and I were doing our best to trek around like tourists on our first day in Munich, but then the rain started dumping down. We’d already stopped at a beer garden in the middle of Englischer Garten, so I figured a pit stop at Hofbruahaus was the next logical step (it makes sense, right?). My mom wasn’t quite as excited about it as I was (she’s not into drinking, so she loves to see me guzzling beers — please note the sarcasm) We walked in the door and the Hofbrauhaus was exactly what I expected. There was oompah music blaring, beer flowing and people everywhere.

Hofbrauhaus Mug Munich Germany

The famous Hofbrauhaus liter mug

You can order your beer “helles” (light — Hofbrau Original), “dunkles” (dark – Hofbrau Dunkel), “weisse” (white (or wheat) beer — Munchner Weisse), “radler” (half light beer and half lemonade) or “russ’n” (white beer with lemonade). The light beer, dark beer, radler and russ’n are typically served in liter mugs at Hofbrauhaus (that’s 33 ounces — equivalent to almost three cans of beer), while the weisse is usually served in a smaller half-liter glass. Be warned — German beers are stronger than American beers. Hofbrau Original carries a 5.1% alcohol content (Hofbrau Dunkel is 5.5%), while a Coors Light is 4.2%. You can get knocked around pretty quick if you aren’t careful.

The common food at a beer house or beer garden in Munich is sausage (I’m partial to bratwurst), sauerkraut (with bacon), large pretzels and pork knuckles (exactly what it sounds like). The menu at Hofbrauhaus goes well beyond that though. It’s a real restaurant and a beer hall. While I stuck with the pork knuckle for dinner, my mom order some spaetzel noodles with cheese (egg noodles with Tegernsee-style grated cheese and fried onions). In my opinion — you can’t go wrong with Bavarian food. It’s the best!

Pretty Patty Lewis at Hofbrauhaus

My mom cautiously drinking a beer at Hofbrauhaus

Hofbrauhaus is committed to its regulars (many who still stroll around in lederhosen). If you take the time to walk around the beer house you’ll see the regulars’ steins locked away in the back. It’s basically a parking spot for their glass when they’re away (locked down like Fort Knox — literally called beer stein safes). There are also reserved tables labeled ‘Stammtisch’ — those are for the regulars/groups that frequent the Hofbrauhaus. You want to avoid those tables if you can. My mom and I knew that when we were there, but the place was packed (which is amazing because it can serve up to 5,000 people at a time). We were forced to sit at a reserved table (or leave — and that wasn’t an option), and no more than 25 minutes later one of the regulars showed up (we could tell by his fancy stein and the look he gave us when he arrived). We offered to leave, but he didn’t understand much English. He shook his head and waved his hand telling us we could stay. It only got awkward when the Hofbrauhaus server showed up and made it very obvious that we were at the guy’s table (even though we understood that before he showed up). It wasn’t a problem though (since it was his reserved table after all); we just got up and moved to another spot.

Typical Bavarian Beer Garden Lunch

Bavarian beer garden lunch in Munich

That’s another one of the great things about Hofbrauhaus — all the awesome people you meet. Before the regular showed up to claim his spot, I was clanking glasses (Prost!) with the guys at the table next to us. I’m not even sure where they were from, but I’m guessing it was Austria (I have no idea though). At the next table we went to, my mom and I met three guys from New York City who were in Munich for their friend’s wedding. After they left, two guys (they were photographers) from Brazil sat next to us. They weren’t the most talkative, so I sparked conversation with two dudes sitting nearby. It turned out they were from Buffalo, New York, in Munich for business. It’s easy to make friends at Hofbrauhaus and it really adds to the experience.

If you’re a drinker or not — you need to visit the Hofbrauhaus in Munich. It’s the most famous beer hall on the planet in a city where beer is king (just look at Oktoberfest – born in Munich — for crying out loud). The Hofbrauhaus is the best of Bavaria all rolled into one location.

Have you ever been to Hofbrauhaus? What did you think of it? I would love to hear from you! Simply leave a message below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget — if you can’t travel the globe; experience the world with me at http://allaroundtim.com!

Sushi Recipe | Super Cucumber Roll

I’m a huge fan of sushi and I’m always down to try something new. I recently went to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant outside of Seattle and found something that I’d never seen before. It was a ‘Chef’s Special’ called a Super Cucumber Roll. Instead of sushi wrapped in rice, it was wrapped in cucumber. Not only did the Super Cucumber Roll look different, it tasted different as well — it was really good! That’s why I want to share this awesome sushi recipe with you!

Super Cucumber Roll Sushi Recipe

Super Cucumber Roll

INGREDIENTS

Raw Fish

Salmon
Tuna
Hamachi (Japanese amberjack or yellowtail)

Vegetables/Others

Cucumber
Avacado
Yamagabo (Japanese pickled burdock root)
Daikon (white radish) sprouts
Sesame seeds
Soy sauce

NOTE: Since I’m a sushi-eater not a sushi chef (although I can make a few delicious rolls), my best advice is to look at the picture of the Super Cucumber Roll for reference (because I don’t have the ’real’ sushi recipe in my hands).

As you can see there are hardy chunks of raw salmon, tuna and hamachi with avocado and yamagabo (I thought they were carrots at first — give me a break — I’m a dude) heavily wrapped in a thin layer of cucumber. I don’t think the sprouts are part of the main Super Cucumber Roll, instead I think they’re just used for garnish (but feel free to experiment). The sesame seeds are also only used for garnish, and the soy sauce is sprinkled over the cucumber roll once it’s all put together.

Check out this video (from :00-2:15) for an idea on how to cut the cucumber for the outside of the roll:

As you can see in the picture above, the Super Cucumber Roll that I ate was served on another thin rectangle of cucumber (which still had some skin on it) and had extra, smaller slices of cucumber for appearance (and eating, of course).

Even if you don’t follow this exact sushi recipe (as un-exact as it is), hopefully it will at least give you an idea of something new and fun to try. I can think of 50 different ingredients (especially some with spice) that I’d like to try in a Super Cucumber Roll. My advice — have fun experimenting!

I’d love to know what you think of the Super Cucumber Roll! Do you have other sushi recipes that you want to share? I’d love to hear them. You can simply leave a message below, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more posts on food, sports, music and more!

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Easy Appetizers For Bachelors

Easy Appetizers For Bachelors

It’s not often I’m responsible for feeding other people, especially when I’m invited to a dinner or barbecue at a friend’s house. I’m usually the guy that reaches into the back of my freezer, grabs some rock hard burger patties and I’m on my way. You know — a typical bachelor. It’s time for a change though. I need to act like a 31-year-old; not a college student. I have a new job and I’m living in a new city, so why not start now. I had my first opportunity on the 4th of July.

I was put in charge of appetizers (for 8-10 people) for a friend’s Independence Day BBQ. A couple of bags of Doritos just wasn’t going to cut it, so I turned to my sister and girlfriends (friends that are girls — I’m not a polygamist) for help. They were a wealth of information. Ideas came oozing out of them like they were Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray. They were excited to tell me all of their ideas — almost like they were waiting for me to ask. It was exactly what I needed.

There were several killer appetizers to choose from, but since no cooking was involved, these were the two winners:

Caprese Salad On A Stick

Caprese SkewersAll you need for this recipe is grape tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese (preferably mozzarella cheese balls), balsamic vinegar and kabob skewers. It doesn’t get much easier than this – put one grape tomato on the skewer, add a leaf of basil, and then a ball of mozzarella cheese on top of that. Repeat the process until the skewer is full and then start a new skewer. That’s it — you’re done. Since some people like more or less balsamic vinegar than others, I took the bottle with me to the party and let everyone sprinkle their own skewer with as much vinegar as they wanted.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Goat Cheese Stuffed PeppersBelieve it or not, there is an easier recipe than ‘Caprese Salad On A Stick’ — and this is it. All you need for this appetizer is goat cheese, peppadew peppers (the kind that are already gutted and bottled with oil) and a knife (or spoon). Take the goat cheese with the knife and fill each pepper with the cheese (clear the inside of the pepper of excess oil first). Are you waiting for another step? There isn’t one — that’s all you have to do.

It didn’t take me more than 10 or 15 minutes to put both of these appetizers together, and they went over really well at the BBQ. I got a bunch of compliments for my eats, especially the peppers. Even though the appetizers were really easy to make, it was all very rewarding (much more rewarding than bringing Doritos).

What are some of your favorite/easy appetizers to make? I’ll be looking for more ideas in the future, and if I’m not, you just might help other bachelors who read this post. Please leave a comment right here with your recipes/ideas. Help make us better dudes (and a holiday BBQ a better place)!

P.S. I want to give huge props to Whole Foods. I had trouble finding skewers for the ‘Caprese Salad On A Stick’, even after asking an employee for help (she didn’t think they sold them). When I went to the register, the guy behind the counter asked me if I had trouble finding anything, so I told him I couldn’t find the skewers. He immediately had another employee run to look for them (thinking they did have skewers). While the other employee ran through the store, the guy continued to ring me up. He told me the total and wanted me to pay. I asked if he wanted to wait for the skewers, but he told me to swipe my card. About a minute after I paid, the other employee came back with skewers and handed them to me. I offered to hop back in line to pay for them, but the guy at the register told me not to worry and sent me on my way. So, thanks to Whole Foods for being awesome.