Home > Beer, Food, Why I'm Fat > A Weekend To SAVOR: Part II

A Weekend To SAVOR: Part II

Saturday was the big day, the day I had already planned on turning my back on South Beach so as not to waste the $95 I’d paid for a ticket to the biggest craft beer and food festival I’d ever been to. Up until this point, South Beach had been relatively easy; I hadn’t had to give up much that I didn’t already not eat, and the things I had given up wasn’t missing much. The only time I’d felt restricted was when I was at the baseball game outside of my little bubble, but that was easy enough to overcome.

As a quick aside, it was easy enough to overcome because I have been learning about what is good to eat and what is bad to eat. This is why Girlfriend and I don’t think things like Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem work: they don’t prepare you to leave your bubble. Even Atkins—which I also don’t believe in—gives you enough guidelines for the outside world. But the things that send you food with no preparation or contingency plans for not eating their food? No good. You have to learn about food and what is good and what is bad in order to make the informed decisions necessary in changing your lifestyle.

But all that feeling comfortable on the diet was about to change. I had already mentally prepared myself for giving it all up for a day, but I still found myself sticking to some of the guidelines, which surprised me a bit.

Photo by savorcraftbeer.com

My good friends Mel and Ray of the Bathtub Brewery picked me up at about 9:30 in the morning and we departed for Maryland, where we’d catch a train into DC for SAVOR. We’d drink our faces off, eat good food, catch the train back, and drive to Mel’s friend Craig’s, who had generously offered to let us stay at his condo overnight. On the drive up, I guiltily took my first step towards un-South Beachness, eating a Kashi pumpkin spice granola bar (I was hungry). When we stopped at a rest area, though, I bought a Coke Zero and a sugar free pack of gum, avoiding my usual road snack of chips.

We met up with Mel’s cousin Brian in DC and went with him and his girlfriend Beth for lunch. Mel was feeling French, so we went to a nice classic, authentic French bistro, Bistro du Coin. I wrestled with the menu; I’d never had cassoulet before, and it seemed like a great SB-friendly dish: lots of beans, lots of protein. I didn’t, however, want to spend the $18.95 it cost, and I didn’t want something so heavy before a 3.5-hour drinking and eating binge. I opted, instead, for a Tartine Parisienne, an open-faced sandwich with béchamel sauce, French ham, and gruyere on top. It was much like an open-faced croquet monsieur. I figured having a little bit of bread in my stomach when things got going would in my best interest. I also took from the communal bowl of house-made frites on the table because I just don’t have the willpower to ignore a bowl of warm, fresh, crisp French fries. Not yet.

We then went out in the muggy DC afternoon to visit the WWII memorial, where I think I sweat out every calorie I had taken in during lunch. Not wanting to remain in the heat, we stopped by the National Portrait Gallery—where I had to look at a few pieces by that hack Andy Warhol—and continued on to SAVOR.

SAVOR began with us standing in line, once again sweating in the humid DC air. Hopefully all the combined sweating put my caloric ledger in the positive for the day—it certainly felt like it—and helped me to earn the liquid refreshment awaiting us and 1,997 others inside the building. We were finally let it, got our program, our tasting glass and a wooden spork. We were set upon the 70 brewers in attendance in a beer-thirsty business casual wave.

We began at the table directly ahead of us, with Evolution Craft Brewing Company’s Lucky 7 Porter. I thought it apropos that we would start with my favorite style of beer, and this particular version was delicious. We all agreed it would be the benchmark by which we would judge the rest of the night. Some came close, but not many exceeded. Not many, that is, other than Dogfish Head’s Bitches Brew, debuting that very night. The beer was brewed to honor the 40th anniversary of the Miles Davis album of the same name and is described as “a bold, dark beer that’s a fusion of three threads imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root.” The beer was perfect, and I hope to be able to find at least one bottle when it is released on August.

Photo by Ray Merkler

Clockwise from Left: Greg Koch, Mel, Ray, Myself. No one told me about the face.

The rest of the festival went by in a blur. We had plenty more beers—102 in total, just making it by my goal of trying 100 beers on the night. 73% of 140 beers—not too shabby in 3.5 hours. Throw in a few tastings of food along the way, as well as a stop at the oyster bar and the cheese table, and you’ve got a great night well worth the price—monetarily as well as diet-wise. I was able to speak with a few brewers, including Greg Koch of Stone, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, and my fellow Clevelanders at Great Lakes. I may have told Greg Koch he could hit on my if he wanted, but I’m pretty sure that was the alcohol talking since I don’t very much care for any of their beers and didn’t even stop by their table to taste. Sam Calagione might be the nicest guy in the world, and the guys from Great Lakes said my compliment—that, being a Cleveland ex-pat, I couldn’t be more proud that someone from home was making such an impact—was their favorite to receive.

At one point, with a little less than an hour left, we had to begin to make a mad scrambled, as I’d done a quick count of my checklist and realized I’d only had 70 beers at this point—well short of my intended goal. I lead my friends to tables we’d somehow missed, a man on a mission, taking one sip after another and dumping the rest.

At the end of the night, we left satisfied and more than a little tipsy. We received our complimentary gift—a set of coasters—and walked out, Ray and I speaking in Scottish accents. I’m sure they were terrible, but they sounded perfect at the time. We each shared a single cigarette, which really hit the spot; I was happy to look back and realize that, after that 1/3 of a cigarette, I had no further cravings or desires for another. I also had no further desire for another post-drinking habit: McDonalds. Or any fast food, for that matter. Most likely because I’d imbibed close to 100 ounces of alcohol and more than a few bites of the complimentary finger foods throughout the last three hours.

Speaking of the food, it really wasn’t that good. It was more of an afterthought to a beer festival, something to give people to keep them from getting too drunk. The food was specifically paired with 30 different beers and then also paired with beers of similar styles, so many tables had the same dishes. This was convenient, as we wouldn’t have to go back to a far table if we’d found something we liked. The only real standout amongst the food was the Thai Green Curry Chicken with Jasmine Rice. The curry was perfect and the sauce kept the rice from seeming too dry—a problem much of the food ran into while sitting out all night, despite being refilled from time to time. The other dish I liked were the Tiny Mahi-Mahi Fish Tacos with Pico de Gallo.

Photo by Ray Merkler

Mel & I going strong near the end.

A few other standouts to mention were the wasabi ginger chocolate truffle and the washed-rind triple cream Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery, the former notable because I don’t like chocolate. The oyster was also fresh and delicious, and Ray and I were able to witness Mel’s first foray into oysters. She liked them so much, she made a return trip, although she forgot the rules and chewed her second. By that point, though, I don’t think any kinds of snafus or faux pas could be held against us.

The next day, battling a hangover and bright sunlight, we went to the Woodside Deli in Germantown, Maryland for brunch. I chose the breakfast burrito, despite a SB ban on wraps, because it had a nice variety of vegetables. It came with breakfast potatoes and I also ordered a side of corned beef hash. I know these weren’t the best choices, but I needed to kill this hangover, and I did use Splenda in my coffee instead of sugar. Everything was delicious—especially the potatoes—and I was able to restrain myself from eating the entire wrap (I only ate the part that had cheese melted over it). The potatoes, however, could not be resisted.

Damn you once again, complex carbohydrates.

Suffice it to say, I had an amazing time and cannot wait for the festival next year. It was nice to be at a beer bash that wasn’t full of that frat-boy attitude of “All you can drink for four hours!! WOO!!” People were polite, they were kind, they excused themselves and moved when you said “Excuse me.” It was a complete 180 from the Winterfest Girlfriend and I attended with Mel and Ray earlier in the year. While my South Beach suffered, I did lose 4.2 pounds, putting me at 330.8 for the first week of Phase 1, which surprises me after the blowout we had on Saturday (and Sunday morning).

I’m kind of glad to not be able to drink beer for a little while; for the first time since college, I may be beer’d out. But it won’t last for long, and it will be another challenge to conquer when it returns.

Next: A list of all the beers, food, chocolate and cheese I had at SAVOR. Your reaction will be one of either jealousy, disbelief, or complete disgust. Stay tuned.

Categories: Beer, Food, Why I'm Fat
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: