Over the past week I have finally been enjoying some good autumnal soups and locally crafted brews. The ones I will touch on today are from the best micro breweries around, Otto’s Pub and Brewery and Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks.
Both locations have very fine brews and one of my favorites this summer included Otto’s Pilsner Lager. Yeah – don’t expect me to go on in the traditional fashion about how it has a beautiful golden color with a 1cm crystal white head that laces beautifully as I enjoy the saaz hop aroma and the crisp finish. All that is true but more importantly is that it’s a wonderfully drinkable summer beer. My heart sunk the other day when I saw it was taken off the board; goodbye summer, goodbye Otto’s Pilsner.
On to Oktoberfest beers of which I have none photographed in my slideshow below. Between these two breweries this season, I am preferring Elk Creek Cafe’s Crick Fest. Copper with a nice malty nose, I tend to like it because of the lesser carbonation and bready grains. It makes the coming of the colder months much more acceptable when I warm with a few mouthfuls of Crick Fest.
Another outstanding beer is Elk Creek’s Home Grown Hop Harvest Ale. Wet and dry hopped with local hops, it is reminiscent of Otto’s Flying Squirrel Ale. Not pretentious, downright earthy and organic in flavor.
Now for the soups. We know we can always rely on a daily vegetarian soup at Elk Creek Cafe and have enjoyed the Mushroom Soup there lately. It is always rich with earthy goodness and just a little garnish of truffle oil on top. Tasty and classy.
We also just enjoyed a remarkable Le Puy Lentil Stew with Tait Farm Peppers, Radish Leaves and a Radish Leah Pesto(!!) on Crusty Bread. The stew was organically sweet with tiny red lentils and a tomato base. The Radish Leaf Pesto was a fresh reminder of leafy summer mellowed by sunflower seeds. Another breathtaking Elk Creek Cafe meal – really.
I have to watch the specials carefully to catch the veggie soups at Otto’s. Lately I have lucked out with 3: Broccoli Cheddar, Tomato Florentine and Vegetable Chili. I am thinking I got the very dregs of the Broccoli Cheddar (not in slideshow above)because it tasted a little burnt. It was ok, I did let my waitress know and I guess my appetite wasn’t fully there to begin with so I didn’t finish it.
The Tomato Florentine was a much better soup but seemed more like a Tomato Basil since it had no discernible dairy in it. The tomato flavors were bright and full and the basil was very flavorful. A great soup at anytime of year and my guess is local tomatoes were used since it’s September.
Best for last, the most recent Vegetarian Chili at Otto’s. We couldn’t determine the heat but our best guess was more of a powdered chili, perhaps poblano. Very nicely seasoned (included cumin, garlic, basil) and treading a tricky line with the Pennsyltucky pallete. The seasoned broth was thin but was chock full of chunks of zuchini, yellow squash, corn, carrot, celery, onion, tomato, bell pepper, black beans and kidney beans. A beautiful festival of local harvest this soup was a perfect welcome to Autumn!
A quick end of 10-2-11 week addendum, we had another amazing soup at Otto’s. You know it’s Fall when places start carrying Butternut Squash soup and Otto’s has always had a great one! Years ago, the day I became a Pub Club member actually, Leah served us a couple of bowls of this soup and tuned us on to adding a little of the Hurricane Mary wing sauce. It’s a favorite combo of ours!
Two great spots for soup and suds! We are lucky to have these restaurants so close to us!