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Friday, August 18, 2017


U.S. Grant Hotel, downtown San Diego
Q&A Jeff Josehans, Lead Mixologist & Certified Cicerone, Level II, U.S. Grant Hotel & Grant Grill, San Diego, CA.

GUEST BLOG / By Brandon Hernández, West Coaster Magazine, Senior Editor.

Picture it: You sit down at a bar, enjoy two or three IPAs rich with the fruity, piney aromas and flavors of hops, then get right up and immediately drive home. This is ill-advised, irresponsible and downright illegal behavior.

Innovative Jeff Josehhans
But the information I didn’t supply you with before introducing this scenario is that those hypothetical beers are non-alcoholic. And though it sounds like a riddle based on fiction—c’mon, there’s no such thing as a vibrantly hoppy non-alcoholic IPA—this is a real-world situation that can be played out at the U.S. Grant Hotel’s bar, lounge and restaurant, Grant Grill, where level two Cicerone Jeff Josenhans has taken to removing alcohol from cask ales, before recarbonating, bottling and adding them to the menu.

It’s the latest step in the venue’s non-alcoholic craft beverage program, which also includes spirits and cocktails. West Coaster Magazine sat down with Josenhans to find out more about his methods and what could be perceived by some purists as madness.

West Coaster: What inspired you to explore non-alcoholic beers in this manner?
Jeff Josenhans: It literally just dawned on me how there are no craft non-alcoholic beers on the market, and I thought to myself “how can this be possible?” The non-alcoholic quality beverage segment as a whole—wine, cocktails, etc.—is growing as well, so I just put two and two together. There’s really no reason you can’t drink craft beer at work in a non-alcoholic form.

WC: Walk us through the process of removing alcohol from traditional beers.
JJ: Basically, we maintain the temperature of the beer at 180 degrees Fahrenheit using an immersion circulator, which also keeps the beer in motion. We keep that process going for about 30 minutes or until we can’t detect any alcohol fumes for at least five minutes. Like other commercial non-alcoholic beers or kombucha, there is still a minute amount of alcohol expected to remain in the beer, albeit less than one percent. There really is no such thing as 100% guaranteed no-alcohol beer. O’Doul’s states 0.5% alcohol-by-volume (ABV), Becks Non-Alcoholic states 0.3% ABV and, similarly, when reducing wine into a sauce, you cannot completely guarantee there is no alcohol and that it is at a level which is considered safe to consume and drive, for example. What we do is measure the volume of the liquid and equate it with the loss in volume per the original ABV. For example, if we have 10 liters of 6% ABV pale ale, after the 30-minute process we should have 9.4 liters left.

WC: What styles do you offer and what led you to select them?
JJ: Our current bottled beers are Office IPA, Strawberry Blonde, PC Pilsner, Safe and Sour, and Button-Down Beer. The selection process is directly correlated to the casks we run at Grant Grill. If we don’t have enough left over from a cask at the end of a night, we do not produce any non-alcoholic beer. If there is at least one-third of the cask left, we make a decision to bottle and start the process. We are creating craft-beverage offerings and avoiding waste at the same time.

WC: You’re using local cask ales. Where are you procuring them?
JJ: We always have cask ale on Fridays and Saturdays, and currently partner with New English Brewing, 32 North Brewing, Mike Hess Brewing, Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment, Fall Brewing and Modern Times Beer.

WC: What would you say to those who don’t see a need for non-alcoholic craft beer?

JJ: There’s no shame in offering people who can’t drink for whatever reason—designated driver, pregnant, religion, whatever—a craft-beer alternative. To be honest, I really don’t understand how the craft market hasn’t got to this yet. It think it’s about time!

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Chef Carme Ruscadella
Source: British Airways “The Club” inflight magazine kindly shares its content with travel bloggers.  The following article appeared in the August, 2017 edition.

INTERVIEW with Carme Ruscadella, who is the gastronomic advisor for Mandarin Oriental Barcelona and owns Restaurant Sant Pau in Spain and Tokyo. Text: The Club Magazine; Images:  

GUEST BLOG / By Concha Caina, writer, The Club, inflight magazine of British Airways--Ever since she opened her first restaurant just outside of Barcelona in 1988, Carme Ruscalleda has been a leading figure on the Catalan culinary scene – not least because she was the world’s first female chef to receive seven Michelin stars for her restaurants in Spain and Tokyo. Here, she shares her favorite foodie spots in the city

A reliable place for pre-dinner drinks
Dry Martini in Eixample (above) is one of the coolest cocktail bars in town. It is a beautiful space (think leather banquettes and antiques) with impeccable service and, of course, excellent Martinis. I don’t understand how the staff manage to keep their white jackets totally wrinkle-free.

Foodie souvenir to take home
Pick up a bottle of Hong Kong/Maresme sauce, a sweet-and-sour sauce that we make at Moments – you can buy it only at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona. Just a splash is guaranteed to enhance your pasta, a fish dish or an omelette..

Where to impress on a date
Your date won’t fail to be impressed at Moments, a two-Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona (above). A modern Catalan menu is inspired by the seventh art – cinema – so you can expect the 13-course tasting menu to take its lead from great films such as Octopussy (octopus cannelloni filled with potatoes and paprika) and The Silence of the Lambs (suckling lamb and lamb brain, borscht and dried fish flakes).

Best ‘grab-and-go’ snack
Head to Semon in Sarria-Sant Gervasi, a delicatessen that has been in Barcelona for what seems like forever. As well as delicious salads to go, you can pick up cured meats, ready-made dishes such as croquetas and albondigas (meatballs), and an incredible selection of cheese and wine.

Breakfast spot
When the city wakes up, the best place to witness the beginning of a new day is Pinotxo Bar (above) at Mercado de la Boqueria – the earlier the better as the bar opens at 6am. Charismatic manager Juanito Bayern will serve you either coffee with a freshly made pastry or, if you prefer using knives and forks, whatever is available that day.

Best lunch spot
Via Veneto (above), just off Avinguda Diagonal, has been a discreet meeting point – perfect for business meetings – since the 1960s. It broke the mould at that time, when it was the headquarters of the so-called ‘Gauche Divine’ [a movement of left-wing intellectuals and artists that spread through Barcelona in the 1960s and early 1970s]. The setting is beautiful and the food is divine.

Hip hangouts where children are welcome
It may not be hip and cool in the modern sense, but 7 Portes (above) has been in Barcelona for the past 180 years and is perfect for families because it is very spacious and, of course, the food is very good – they serve big sharing plates of casseroles and paella. My husband’s dad used to take his family there and we carried on the tradition with our own children when they were younger.

Local independent that deserves to stay in business
A mix between an old-fashion delicatessen and New York bistro, La Cuina d’en Garriga (above) is a charming gourmet shop bursting with character. Whether you buy Santoña anchovies and amazing bread to take home or order the dish of the day, you won’t be disappointed – everything is exquisite.

Dining experience worth leaving town for
Head to El Poblenou – which was once a village outside the city, but is now considered a Barcelona neighborhood – and seek out Els Pescadors. The no-frills fish restaurant has truly kept the soul of Barcelona’s seafaring tradition – the menu changes depending on the catch of the day. Be sure to order the rice in fish broth with monkfish.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Built between 1883 and 1888, Casa Vicens is “an essential work for understanding Gaudí’s unique architectural language and the development of Art Nouveau in Barcelona,” said Marta Antuñano, the Cultural Manager of this World Heritage site. 
All images courtesy: Casa Vicens/Barcelona 2016/Pol Viladoms.
Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926)
Dubbed "the house where it all began," Icon Euro architect Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Vicens in Barcelona, Spain opened to the public for the first time this spring.  For a crisp update click here for a BBC TV travel story by Steve Powell and Angeles Cabello about the first house ever built by the Catalan modernist, who gave the world the yet uncompleted Sagrada Familia.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


from 9:30 am to 4:15 pm

What has come to be known as the Myth of the Lost Cause has long shadowed historical views of the Civil War, the country’s 19th century watershed event. The persistence of that narrative, created by leaders of the devastated South as an attempt to justify the just-concluded conflict, still affects contemporary America.

For example, when controversies over the appropriateness of displaying the Confederate flag erupted a few years ago, many supporters claimed that it was a symbol of their regional heritage as well as states’ rights—not of the era of slavery.

The Smithsonian Institution via its Smithsonian Associates has organized and scheduled an all day lecture examining the Myth of the Lost Cause: How Civil War History Was Rewritten.  The event is set for the Smithsonian’s Location Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Dr. SW, Washington DC.  Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit).  Tickets are $90 for Smithsonian members and $140 for non-members.

Civil War historian Ed Bonekemper examines the components of the myth, how it was created by ex-Confederates, and how it has affected our perception of the Confederacy, slavery, states' rights, the nature of the Civil War, and the military performances of Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and James Longstreet.


Program Topics and Times:
9:30–10:45 a.m. 
Slavery’s Insidious Nature and Bright Future in 1860
The myth portrays slavery as a benevolent institution that benefited whites and blacks alike, one that allowed blacks to achieve their maximum potential. It also contends that slavery was about to disappear of its own volition, rendering the Civil War unnecessary.  Bonekemper challenges these contentions and explores slavery’s economic worth, impact on slave families, and future prospects in 1860.

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. 
The Driving Force of Secession
According to the myth, secession occurred and the Confederacy was formed in order to protect states’ rights—not to protect slavery. Bonekemper challenges this by analyzing demographics, secession resolutions, the Confederate Constitution, seceding states’ outreach to other slave states, Confederate leaders’ pronouncements, crisis settlement efforts, and other indicators to show that secession and the Confederacy were intended to preserve slavery, not states’ rights.

12:15–1:30 p.m.
 Lunch (attendees provide their own)

1:30–2:45 p.m. 
Confederate Military Advantages and Lee’s Fatal Flaws
The myth contends that the Confederacy had no chance to win, did the best it could, and that its leader Robert E. Lee, was one of the greatest generals in history. It also claims James Longstreet, not Lee, lost Gettysburg. Bonekemper examines the military advantages of the Confederacy and Lee’s fatal propensity for attacking recklessly in the East, while shunning the Western theater. An overview of Lee’s battles, campaigns, successes, failures, and legacy, demonstrates how Lee, not Longstreet, lost Gettysburg.

3–4:15 p.m.  Grant and Sherman’s Hard War
The myth asserts that Ulysses S. Grant was a butcher who won only by brute force and that the North won only by waging “total war.” An examination of Grant’s battles, campaigns, successes, failures, and legacy reveals his greatness. Lecturer Bonekemper also examines how William T. Sherman and Phil Sheridan waged “hard war,” not total war, to achieve victory.

Bonekemper is the author of five books on the Civil War, book review editor of the Civil War Times, and a former adjunct lecturer in military history at Muhlenberg College.