Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Left Hand Oktoberfest

Today's my birthday, so buy me a good beer (or two). I also just recently passed the one year mark for writing this blog. Two cakes?

Although birthdays really haven't been that important to me for quite a while, we did do a little surprise celebration last Sunday at Andres Carne de Res in the Bogota suburbs. Surprise only because I didn't expect to have the wandering trio of musicians sing Happy Birthday (in English) or to wear a crown or my Visitante Ilustre (a visitor at the level of a king) sash. And trust me, of all the pictures you will see here, none of the decorations have anything to do with my birthday. This place always looks like this! Awesome!

Each table has its own name hanging on a brightly colored and decorated heart above the table. Ours happened to be named "Profundo". You will see some of the other table names in a couple of other pictures that show the general decor and coolness of the place! There is literally not one square inch without decoration.

Your experience will include...

A very interesting restaurant front complete with cows at the entrance (you gotta eat the steak). My favorite cow is the one made entirely from wine bottle corks. Once you've been seated, you'll have ample time to read the expansive and unique menu (in English and Spanish) as well as gawk at all the decorations and interesting items around you. Don't be surprised when all of a sudden a Cirque du Soleil-type presentation starts happening out of nowhere, with full costumes and dancing included.

Don't forget to bring your kids, as Andres has an extremely organized and huge children's area for a relatively small fee. They will keep them entertained the whole afternoon. My kids made and painted flutes, made their own pizzas for lunch (had to pick prunes (yes prunes) off of my little one's so he'd eat it), made cookies, got face painted, danced, played with Play Doh, and my seven year old's favorite--construction. Literally, I was checking on them and he was hammering a bottle cap onto a board, and later he made an airplane! Safe, too (besides the hammers and nails), as they couldn't leave without wrist band verification that they belonged to us.

Some of the decorations are practical, too, like the bent forks you'll be wondering about hanging above your table. That's where the condiments rack gets hung after dinner while you're eating your (awesome) dessert and drinking your coffee. Don't get burned by the candles that are constantly burning and building up a huge wax pile as you walk around the narrow pathways. Even the bathrooms are interesting. There are so many little things, so many cool and thoughtful touches to this place. One of a kind!

Even your bill comes uniquely. This time for me it was a cigar box with my bill placed inside a metal cigar holder and topped with a beer bottle cap. My neighbors had a Fed-Ex type envelope. And each had a magnifying glass and flashlight included to make sure you could read it in the dim lighting. And there is also a small bag of candy with the restaurant name on it to take with you. Even the customer survey was unique and hand-written--not some mass form to fill out. Last time I came, almost eight years ago, there was even a living and moving Nativity, but not yet this year.

I will concede, however, that all this entertainment came with a pretty steep price. Probably double a pretty nice meal out for two is a decent estimate. And no, I'm not eating at the fanciest restaurants, so if you are, this is probably more along what you're used to. What the hell! I don't get to do this very often!

So on to the birthday beer. Hmmm. What to have? I have a few seasonals that are past their season, at least calendar-wise. Remember I have no seasons here in Miami. Sucks!

Today I'm drinking Left Hand Oktoberfest brewed by Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, Colorado. The aroma is malty with caramel and some spiciness as well. The flavors start out malty as well, with plenty of caramel. This beer is spicy yet is sweet. Light hops do take some of the sweetness away before the 6% alcohol shows up. Though not that high a content, the alcohol is not very well disguised and is a bit annoying and dominating. Overall, medium body, medium carbonation and a smooth drinker. Not bad but not a favorite by any stretch.

My Christmas--Andrea Bocelli


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