Favorite Places: Coney Island Brewery

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Since we’ve reached peak craft brewing in this country there aren’t many breweries left where you can feel like a regular or enjoy truly exciting beers. But in a world of IPAs akin to kiddie rides, Coney Island Brewery has earned their hashtags #TakeTheRide and #ThrillYourTastebuds.

On a typical Saturday in summer, you can find me wandering between the brewery and the Freak Bar, sipping beers, emphatically cheering on the sideshow and talking to freaky new friends. Even on winter weekends it’s nice to escape to a place that feels so much like my childhood home in Wildwood, NJ.

Coney Island Brewery Black Lager



I’m a big fan of their quirky and creative events. In the summer, they host big happenings and can releases at least once a month. My favorite last year was the Cotton Candy Festival. The Cotton Candy Kolsch is one of my favorites so I had to pick up some cans to bring home.. Not too sweet, but perfect for a summer afternoon.


The Brewery’s Birthday Bash in August was also a total blast. Sideshow performers hung out and did their acts among the crowd Adam Realman, my sideshow professa from Sideshow School 2012, ripped a deck of playing cards in HALF and made my boyfriend bleed trying to replicate that feat of strength.

We spent Super Bowl VII with CIB at Kitchen 21, enjoying our favorite craft beers as the Eagles historically won their first Lombardi. Most recently, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with an excellent beer and chocolate pairing.


Freak Show Saturdays are a great opportunity to get freaky with flavors. As CIB describes their Randall infusions:

Every Saturday a new, mad, reckless experiment in beer science will be conducted in our taproom as we infuse one of our styles with a new ingredient.

Think NY Honey Stout infused with Cafe Grumpy espresso beans, our Merman NY IPA blasted through two chambers of whole cone Mosaic hops, or perhaps Mermaid Pilsner infused with lemon starburst?

As someone who is routinely drawn to events to try their newest releases and limited editions, this is a kryptonite that guarantees I have plans every Saturday!



It’s no surprise I’ve been a member of the Beer Freak Club since last year. I’m only one punch away from the mug club and definitely on track to score one of those BEAUTIFUL Beast Stainless Steel Growlers only the freakiest fans earn.


NYC Beer Week is coming up fast and I’ll be checking out a couple of spots. I’ll definitely be at the kick off party at the brewery next Sunday. Then March 1, I’ll be hanging out for a while at the Brazen Fox. I love when CIB comes to my neighborhood! Who else is coming out?
beer week


How To Taste and Judge Grilled Cheese

Adapted from a previous version I wrote after the 2012 Big Cheesy (I miss the Big Cheesy).

Much has been written about the arts of wine and chocolate tasting. However, the most refined palates simply must learn the required method of sampling an exquisite fromage grillé. Please, allow me to guide you into the world of toasted cheese as you’ve never experienced it before.


Tasting always begins with the eyes. Note the color of the bread. Is it golden or a deep bronze? Is it completely burnt? Does the butter give the bread a wet sheen, a just-kissed gloss or a saturated spongy soppiness? What of the cheese? Is it peeking from the edges, bubbling softly or is it rolling like magma onto the plate? Lastly, pay attention to the cut. Whether your sample is a square, triangle, circle or star, it has been specifically crafted that way for a reason.

Aroma. Get your nose right between the slices and into the sandwich. What do you notice? (Did you burn your nose? Too close. Wipe that cheese off.)

Texture. Sink your teeth into it. A good toasted cheese sandwich should have a signature crunch. A great sandwich boasts a thin, yet substantial topical crust with soft bread and cheese blending in the center. Some prefer a harder crunch throughout the bread juxtaposed by the soft meltiness of the cheese center.

sweet action

Cold ales and ambers pair well with grilled cheese and cleanse the palate

Meltiness. This is a crucial factor in tasting grilled cheese. Is the cheese melted properly? There’s nothing worse than partially melted or still-solid chunks of cheese interrupting an otherwise enjoyable experience. Keep in mind, different cheeses and/or combinations of cheese melt differently.

Bread to Cheese Ratio. There should not be too much bread. Likewise, there should not be too much cheese. This is a delicate balance. In the case of stronger cheeses, toasted-cheesemongers may use less cheese with a combination of fillers like spinach, ham, mushrooms or other additions that will compliment the cheese without overpowering the sandwich.

Little Muenster Tasty Trio

A Toasty Trio by Little Muenster

Flavor. You should already know your cheeses, of course, so pay attention to the notes in cheese combinations. If there are any additional ingredients like vegetables, sauces or meats, identify them and ruminate on what they bring to the overall experience as well as how they blend individually.

Pairings. If your sample comes with a accoutrements, try them. With wine, sip after each bite. If it’s a shot of soup, try both dipping the grilled cheese into the soup and sipping the soup after a clean bite. If the sandwich is topped with a relish or drizzled with chocolate, do not brush it off. When in doubt, ask the toasted-cheesemonger for their recommendation for consumption.

Hungry? If you’re ready to put your newly acquired tasting skills to the test (you’re welcome, by the way), try some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in New York at the Atwood’s Winter Grilled Cheese Festival.

First Look: Nintendo Switch


Splatoon 2 in handheld mode on Nintendo Switch

After an awkward Nintendo Direct Thursday night, I had some concerns about the Nintendo Switch. There weren’t any shocking new reveals about the hardware. The presentation was clunky and poorly executed. By the end, I was having  Wii U flashbacks and preemptive buyer’s remorse about the lack of launch titles.Over the weekend I had an exclusive opportunity to experience the Switch first hand at a “secret location,” thanks to my Gal Friday Gluxbox and I’m pretty confident it’s going to change the game.


Breath of the Wild Link “greeted” us at the entrance to the space

The space was configured across two rooms with the main room divided into different console use scenarios. Nintendo created an airplane,  a cozy living room, the interior of an RV and a seat in “Mario’s Diner” (to this displaced Jersey girl’s delight and amusement). A huge presentation screen divided the room where Nintendo staffers held gameshow-like demos throughout the evening. The rest of the space featured lounge areas where we could kick back and kick ass.


It’s a squid! It’s a kid! It’s a squid!

Splatoon 2 was easily one of my highlights. The station showcased both TV and handheld play, and allowed us to team up and splet other attendees. I was massively disappointed with the Wii U, but Splatoon was THE game that revived my console from the dusty graveyard of my entertainment center. Naturally, I was excited to check out a new weapon and MUCH smoother gameplay in Splatoon 2 on the Switch. On the handheld configuration, the gyroscope feels much more intuitive. The system itself is thinner, smoother and far less clunky than the GamePad was, offering a less frustrating experience that STAAAAAAYS FRESH!


This is what championship milkers look like

We ducked over to two large glass booths housing Nintendo staffers in silly hats to try out 1 2 Switch. This game, which should come packaged with the console but does not, includes a variety of games that show off the hardware features and functionalities. Wild West Dueling pitted Glux and I against each other in a showdown, eyes locked and intimidation faces on!

If you saw the Nintendo Direct, you may remember a demonstration involving ice cubes shaking in a glass. Without the joycon in your hand, it was impossible to make an impact. But playing Balls (yes. That’s literally the name of the game) you can really feel a number objects rolling around “inside” the joycon (yes. The object of the game is literally to feel balls).

By far the best of the 1 2 Switch demo was a little game called Milk.

Yep. You strategically squeeze and tug the joycon to simulate “milking a cow” and whoever milks the most glasses wins. Hysterical. I was on the floor laughing because I am a grown ass adult here. Is this game worth being sold separately for $49.99? Probably not. Again, it’s a cool way to show off all the console’s capabilities, but software like this should really come preinstalled.


One of three Inkling Girl options in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Many people seem pretty disappointed that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe won’t include any new tracks, but I LOVE the new Inkling additions and their karts. Plus, Nintendo brings back Battle Mode in this version- a nostalgic throwback I’ve been missing in every Mario Kart game since I was a kid. I’m looking forward to reliving my sibling rivalries from afar!


Making Nintendo Great Again

After several addictive battle rounds and some races, I got called up on stage with a stranger to play a co-op puzzle game, Snipperclips. This may be a cult hit for the Switch. It was unexpectedly, but delightfully engaging, silly and just challenging enough that I didn’t make a total ass of myself on stage. I won the sweet hats Glux and I are modeling above.


Switch swag

We got some time on Street Fighter, PuyoPuyo Tetris, Just Dance and others. The comfort and ease of using the joycons in their various forms for every game, regardless of intensity, surprised me throughout the event. I particularly loved being able to use the joycon independently in each hand. When we played multiplayer games that utilized the joycon completely independently, they were small, but still totally manageable and comfortable. The whole system felt quite sleek and sturdy, unlike the juvenile and clunky Wii U Gamepad.

If you’re a dude or have bigger hands, you might want to consider the pricey pro controller. I’ll likely grab one for my boyfriend, along with the joycon charging grip (because we are going to be lost in this thing for the rest of the year). We also saw little wheel peripherals for Mario Kart- a fun novelty, but they’ve never done anything for my racing experience, personally.

We had to leave way too soon, but got some nice swag and a thirst for more Switch. March 3rd can’t come soon enough!

If you’ve been quick/lucky enough to score a preorder, I recommend trading your Wii U in sooner than later before the market floods and the trade value drops. I traded my system and several games in on Monday for over $400 in credit!!!  That’ll more than cover the accessories I want to get the most out of the Switch when it finally launches.

My Ass Looks Like a Rorschack Test


The Screaming Demon of Derby leaves his dark mark of possession

It’s hard to imagine I will ever be good at this, but it’s important to remember when I was new. Saturday was my first time on skates. It felt like I’d been bestowed the power of flight. And crashing. My brain feels ready to be comfortable on my skates already, but my body needs to learn the skills. The intersection of frustration is where the brain feels ready to do something, but the body still needs to learn the skills. Or vice versa.

With running, my body knew what to do. We just had to convince Brain that we wanted to run and that we were enjoying it (we don’t and we never are). Last weekend, I ran a 15k an unprecedented 20 minutes faster than last year, under far worse conditions (rain, no music). On skates, I want to fly, but my legs just do that cartoonish twisty baby giraffe on wheels thing.


Meet my new friends

I now have a solid idea how hard this is going to be. Still, I’ve never wanted anything more. I’m looking forward to mastering T-Stops. Stopping seems to easy for everyone else, but I didn’t fall until I tried them. My wheels feel clunky and uncompromising. They don’t want to give me friction. They just want to STOP. And down I go. Stay low.

Stay low.

Hands on kneepads. Stay low.


A New Chapter

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Through this door, your life’s about to change.

From the moment I heard the thunder of skates, derby had me. Immediately, I saw myself bursting through a paper banner to deafening roars from the crowd, making the rounds to Sparks Are Gonna Fly, skating backwards while swallowing fire (just kidding. That’s dangerous. Maybe). It wasn’t “I want to do this;” it was “I have to do this.”

I was volunteering at the first bout of the season to learn more about the sport, meet some skaters, ask questions and generally see if it was something I actually wanted to do. I’ve never  I wasn’t expecting the contact rush of adrenaline or the welcoming community of badass women who didn’t treat me as an outsider even as I asked a thousand questions- sometimes more than once- and then still not-so-stealthily googled gestures or terms as they happened.

I made a very patient friend that night. She invited me to a meet & greet the following Friday, which I almost didn’t go to because social anxiety. But I recruited a pal and got myself settled with a beer and met a few other skaters. The next day I walked into Five Stride and got outfitted with a rookie package before going to the warehouse to watch the level 3 skaters scrimmage (and a lot more googling).

To say I’m Fresh Meat feels a bit far too advanced. I am raw- not even butchered- meat. It’s safer to assume I’ve never been on skates than to try to remember when I last strapped a pair to my feet, but I imagined it would feel the same as it does when I’m in the water- part of it, made to move in it. Not so. As OMG WTF helped me up in my skates and I realized I could not let go of her hands, my fire skating carney/derby dreams dissolved into visions of myself landing on my face in the ashes.

I am not a patient person. If I am not immediately good at something, I get frustrated and give up. It’s why I can’t play an instrument more advanced than a kazoo. As I stood there, wobbling to find my center, I understood this about myself. But roller derby doesn’t feel like despondent piano lessons or the cheap Fender bass my mom dusted off and sold at a yard sale years ago.

Roller derby feels like fire in my chest. Even if my feet don’t know it yet. I can barely imagine doing some of the footwork I’ve seen the advanced girls do. Hell, I can’t imagine propelling myself forward on skates without a slightly warped floor and gravity.

The first question I’ve been getting from everyone is “aren’t you afraid to fall?” No. Falling is inevitable. I know I’ll fall. A lot. I’m afraid I’m going to quit. So I’m going to document this journey from the very beginning because I am in LOVE with this thing I can not yet do. In 11 weeks when I can (hopefully) make it around the track and stop without running into walls, I want to remember that moment in the skate shop when I couldn’t even stand on wheels by myself. And I want to apply that memory to every frustration I have in the next round of Basic Training. And the next. And tryouts. And one day, with a team of supportive and fierce ladies who all started out wobbling.

Friday Five- Sloths from Space!

Why do short weeks feel so long? I was off Monday so I spent the day absorbed in various space adventures and writing poems about space. Seems like from the moment Bowie died there’s been a lot of cosmic energy tingling my fingertips and everything I write reaches the galaxies. Among the stars- good place to be.

The five things I’m loving this week include sloths and space. If anyone can create a game about sloths in space, I will get on board as writer, editor and big idea-er! Can we make this happen?

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via Not From Caves

1. Sloth art! A coworker snapped a ceramic sloth at a coffee shop in Brooklyn and I waiting for her at her desk with a litany of questions. After the slothterrogation, she wisely returned to the coffee shop and picked up a card for me. That’s the story of how I discovered the whimsical slothtastic art of Not From Caves.

2.Out There Somewhere. This game is so wonderfully challenging and the music reminds me of a fist-pumping-Taio-Cruz-at-the-Jersey-Shore era jam. It’s short, but worth a play. My goal is to get really good at it and do speedruns. Maybe.

3. FIGHT MILK! Fight like a crow. Made fresh by bodyguards (and Charlie).

I just watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in its entirety and cannot recommend it enough. I rarely love a whole show, but these characters are such engaging, awful people and so representative of Philly I’m always cracking up. Every ep is gold.

4. Speaking of Philly, I’m going back for my 2nd year of running the Hot Chocolate 15k (that’s 9.6 miles)! I’m raising funds for charity here (note they don’t take AmEx or Paypal). Throw a few bucks in to help Ronald McDonald House Charities and keep families with sick children focused on the health of their kids. Please donate if you can and share the link either way!

5. The Deadly Tower of Monsters. As a fan of the 70’s era B film aesthetic, I’ve been waiting for this game. And it’s on sale! Star in your own Sci-Fi cult classic and battle REAL monsters that TOTALLY don’t have zippers on their backs. The “director’s commentary” makes a solid addition. Hilarious! Good writing! (Have I mentioned my dream of writing a game? Any artists/devs/musicians out there? I’ve already got a few solid story and character concepts. Just saying.)

Friday Five: Ch-ch-ch-changes

Nothing gets my hips swaying like a melancholy baritone. Saxophones immediately transport me to darkened alleyways glimmering with post-rain mystery. Cellos sound like the comfort and anxious energy of a small dark room. With my body rocking like a perpetual pendulum this week, here are five things I’m loving!

1. You Bred Raptors? I was introduced to a friend of a friend’s band this week who play experimental instrumentals under a name referencing Jurassic Park (albums include Grant, Hammond, Lex & Tim and Muldoon!). Obviously, I was way down for this. It’s three dudes who play a monster 8-string bass, drums and cello. They wear masks which change with each song. A lot of their stuff sounds like scores for unwritten cult films or video games. I highly recommend you check out them out!

2. I just bought this badass bodysuit and cannot wait to rock the hell out it.

3. Blackstar- Happy Birthday, David Bowie! Bowie hath gifted us with a new album today and I’m pretty much diggin’ it. I was lucky enough to score tickets to Lazarus, a stage production Bowie co-wrote inspired by The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis, so I got to hear Michael C. Hall sing some of these new songs with incredible Bowiesque precision a couple weeks ago. It was marvelous. Just a bloody brilliant piece of theater. Check out Blackstar, get tickets to Lazarus if you can and come to Bowie’s birthday party tonight at Rough Trade NYC.

4. Pocket Mortys. LOOK, guys. LOOK AT ALL THE MORTYS.

I’ve never gotten excited over a mobile game before and most of me still wishes this could be on steam or 3DS or ANY platform other than mobile… BUT this combines a game style I love with a show a adore so I’m going to allow it. Out next week on iOS and Android.

5. I got the criffiest crif dog ever.

Lil Ma and cheesy tots from Crif Dogs

Lil Ma and cheesy tots by Crif Dogs

Shut up. I go to the gym 5 days a week so I can eat bacon wrapped hot dogs smothered in peanut butter and topped with potato chips with a big ol’ side of cheesy tots. Some things are just worth it, guys.