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Taste Test

Beer drinkers who have taken up home brewing will share their creations.

June 19, 1997|LEO SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Bob Bush got the home-brewing bug after one of his regular water-skiing trips with a couple dozen of his buddies. On this particular outing, in February 1996, the group decided to throw together a blind beer-tasting test.

Even the most veteran, practiced beer drinkers in the group had a tough time telling one store-bought brew from another--none of which they particularly enjoyed.

It was then that Bush decided he had to try to make a better beer.

"It took me about two or three batches to get the technique down," he said. "No convincing was required. It was obvious right from the beginning that I was really on to something."

Bush said he is certain more beer drinkers would turn to home brewing if they realized how relatively quick and easy the whole process is.

As president of the 60-member Clan de Stein Homebrewer's Society of Ventura, he plans to use the opportunity of the group's annual open house Saturday to spread the news.

"Home brewing is for people who are used to drinking one of the store-bought beers and are looking for a better taste," Bush said. "And they're looking to get that taste at a lower cost."

The open house will include a tasting of beer brewed by club members, with judges selecting a "Best of Fest." Nonmember guests also are welcome to bring a home- brewed beer. The open house will be from 1 to 5 p.m. at a club member's home, 3648 Walter Circle, Newbury Park.

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When in Tuscany, cook as the Tuscans do.

That seems to be the philosophy of Ventura chef Linda Hale, whose two trips to the northern Italian region have involved some serious training in the ways of Tuscan cuisine.

Hale will share her talents Saturday at Ventura's City Bakery when she prepares a full Tuscan meal.

"We grew up thinking Italian food is all red sauces, but Tuscan cuisine is completely different. Because it's farther north, it is influenced by French cooking," said Hale, who teaches cooking classes from her home and out of Toby's Kitchen & Gifts in Ventura.

"It's more refined, delicate. I've got nothing against red sauces, but it tends to be more tomato, garlic, things grown in the south of Italy," she said. "This is more influenced by things grown in the middle and north. They use a lot of cheeses, wine and fresh herbs."

Hale's menu will open with an assortment of crostini appetizers, followed by ricotta gnocchi on a bed of spinach greens. For the main course, she will offer a choice of chicken saltimbocca or a vegetarian risotto cake on a ragout of leeks and porcini mushrooms, served with Tuscan bread.

For dessert, Hale will prepare an Italian almond tart served with chocolate sauce and mascarpone creme.

Though City Bakery has these special theme dinners on occasion, Hale is the first guest chef to take control of the kitchen. Owner and chef Rose Burtchby said diners may see other visiting chefs from time to time.

"If I find anybody that's any good," she said.

City Bakery is at 2358-C E. Main St.

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Folks at Eric Ericsson's on the Pier will thank their customers with a first anniversary celebration beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Ventura oceanside restaurant, which officially marked its one-year anniversary June 1, will offer appetizer specials, prizes, music and other entertainment.

Charnell Foulke, general manager of Eric Ericsson's, said the establishment's first few months were a little rocky, but once things settled down, the restaurant's popularity became a pleasant surprise.

"Local Ventura people have really backed us a lot," Foulke said.

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