The Beer Necessities Opens in New Rochelle, Chef Johnson (Keepin’ the Funk in the Food), Westchester’s Christmas Eve Dinners, and Look Out! It’s Soup Dumplings in Yonkers at Gem-Cuisine of China
The Beer Necessities Opens
About a million bottles (and cans) of beer on the wall at New Rochelle’s new store, The Beer Necessities. Actually, there are only 415, but who’s gonna stand there and count?
The trickle down of the phenomenon that Joshua M. Bernstein terms the “Brewed Awakening” (in his book of that title) is that the craft beer revolution is coming to a town near you. In that vein, The Grape Exchange (31 Quaker Ridge Rd, 914-576-3936) —a neighborhood wine and liquor store in New Rochelle—has branched out with a beer-focused venue located in the same shopping center. The Beer Necessities (11 Quaker Ridge Rd, 914-278-9050), offers 1,440 square feet devoted to boutique beers. You’ll also find Louisiana-style prepared foods by Chef Johnson (see HotLink below) and barbecue dishes from The Great American BBQ Company. But, though foods and gifts are on offer, the main story at The Beer Necessities is beer—and, folks, there’s a lot of it.
Aiming to challenge DeCicco’s Family Market for the title of Westchester’s largest in-store selection, The Beer Necessities opened on November 28th to offer 415 types of beer in bottles and cans. The bottles stretch in an almost dizzying array along one entire wall of the narrow, deep store. Yet, according to Adam Deutsch - who, along with Michael Grossberg and John Paulercio owns the enterprise - the shop is soon expected to offer still more, aiming for 600 labels. The hot news for beer geeks—who, concerned with freshness, may question the bottle turnover in such a vast bottle variety— is that The Beer Necessities also offers 15 taps with two Pegas canisters for 64-oz growler service.
The Pegas bottling station at The Beer Necessities. In this one instance, beer gas is good.
The Pegas system is an upgrade from the surgical-style tubing that you’ll see attached to the taps at Whole Foods (and other grocery stores). Like some wine storage systems, the Pegas replaces the air in the top of the filled growler with gases, prolonging the life of the unopened growler of beer for up to 45 days instead of the usual two weeks or so. The system’s producers also claim that it reduces the traditional keg waste of 25-30 percent, liquid that’s lost whenever servers overfill growlers to eliminate foam in the jug. The Pegas developers say that only 10 percent of the beer poured with this system is wasted in flushing the tap lines.
When we checked a few days ago, The Beer Necessities taps were stocked with picks from Clown Shoes, Victory, Goose Island, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., and Ithaca (among others), with growler fills priced at between $9.99 and $19.99. Empty growlers may be purchased for $6.99, or feel free to bring in one you already own. For a full and regularly updated beer list, “like” The Beer Necessities on Facebook.com.
Deutsch says the idea for The Beer Necessities came from partner Michael Grossberg, who owns The Grape Exchange. In order to capitalize on the growing craft beer trend, Grossberg wanted to split his existing wine store to vend both beer and wine under the same roof. According to the New York State Liquor Authority, beer may not be sold in liquor stores, and currently, wine and liquor may not be sold by grocery stores in New York State.
Up in Johnson’s Kitchen: Keepin’ the Funk in the Food
This past summer, you might have noticed Johnson Truck, a cheery green food truck parked at the Mamaroneck harbor. But did you know that Chef Johnson is also the fictional character behind a wildly silly, self-produced TV show available on YouTube? Who is Chef Johnson? I have no idea—but he’s selling his food at The Beer Necessities without the help of his goofy TV friends, whom, I hope, can only exist in the world of YouTube. There’s Olive Earl, an honest-to-god leatherman shaking his chaps-wearing stuff all up in the ‘burbs. Or Head Chef, a kind of a John-the- Baptist figure (that is, after Salome got to him). Throughout the videos, you’ll find Chef Johnsonisms like “Adouille: as I tell my vegetarian friends, it’s got nothing to do with you-ie.” It’s silly. It’s stupid. It’s a breath of fresh air.
Two Christmas Eves: To Go, or Out on the Town
Whether it’s feast of the fishes at home or Yuletide on the town, what we like about someone else cooking our Christmas Eve dinners is that we’re not stuck in the kitchen. That means on Christmas morning, we’ll enjoy unwrapping our gifts with intact manicures and spotlessly clean houses—both of which we’ll probably trash later preparing our Christmas dinner.
In from Eastchester Fish Gourmet
You can source all or part of your Feast of the Seven Fishes at one of Westchester’s favorite seafood restaurants. Pick up on December 24th (or even earlier, if it’s more convenient). Check out the menu and prices here.
Out at Peter Pratt’s Inn
Dine out at this historic Yorktown inn. Christmas Eve dinner starts at 4 pm, with menu choices starting at $25—and there’s a children's menu available.
Okay, here’s a dirty little vice of mine. No not THAT one – this one’s soup dumplings. Think of these juicy little buns as the Freshen-up gum of the Shanghainese eating world. One little nibble on a corner of these tidy packages, and whoosh—out gushes hot, richly porky soup. How’s it done? The soup is reduced until, when cooled, it’s a Jujube-like jelly. Gobs of the jelly are folded into dumplings with pork and, at other places, crab meat; then, when the dumplings are steamed, the jellied soup returns to liquid. Get yours now at Gem-Cuisines of China.
Julia Sexton, restaurant critic, food writer, and CRMA award-winning blogger, is a rampant traveler who will go anywhere to try anything. When not furtively sneaking cinghiale sausage past airport bag sniffers, she cooks and writes at her home in New Rochelle. A regular in Westchester Magazine’s pages, where she reviews local restaurants, Sexton’s food writing has also appeared in the New York Times and the Boston Globe. This fall, look for the debut of Sexton's book, Hudson Valley Chef's Table, published by Globe Pequot Press. She'd love to hear from you, so email any rants, questions, and comments to the Eaterline, email@example.com. Follow Julia Sexton on Twitter @JuliaSexton