A cookout, without the work

The weatherman is calling for a sunny afternoon Saturday with less humidity. That’s good. I have plans.
They involve two of Greater Pittston’s best kept secrets, but that designation, I believe, won’t last much longer, if it indeed still applies at all.
One is the tasting room at Susquehanna Brewery. The other, a food operation with the guts to call itself peculiar: Peculiar Culinary Company.
They are teaming up Saturday (July 15) for a “cookout.” It’s slated for noon to 6 at SBC. From what I understand, the food will be available from 1 to 4.
Look up “peculiar” in the dictionary and you’ll see words like “strange” and “odd.” But you’ll also see “uncommon” and “unusual” and, my personal favorite when I think of Peculiar Culinary, “distinctive.” In this regard, Peculiary Culinary is aptly named. The delights whipped up by Gene Philbin, chef and co-owner along with his wife Miranda, are nothing if not distinctive.
My wife and I and our friend Martin Sowa still talk about the New Year we rang in at a pop-up party presented by Philbin a couple of years ago. It was our first pork belly experience and we have not gotten over it.
There’s a reason Gene and Miranda chose a silhouette of a pig for their logo and that reason can be explained in two words: pork and belly.
In addition to being an incredibly likable human being, Gene Philbin is a first class chef. He’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has appeared on The Food Network. He is committed to working with locally grown products and is not afraid to experiment.
My mouth is watering already.
Then there’s SBC.
That little tasting room is just what we needed. A pleasant little spot to enjoy a beer brewed just a few feet away. Like Philbin, the folks at Susquehanna also are not afraid to experiment. They already had a summertime winner is their Shady Spot, a lemon shandy, when they introduced Sunny Spot, a grapefruit shandy. Either one says summer.
Then last winter and spring I encountered their raspberry infused beer, followed by blueberry, and then blood orange. I am generally not a fan of fruity beers, but all three of these could make me change my mind in a hurry.
When Nat King Cole sang these are days of “soda and pretzels and beer” he surely did not have these Susquehanna brews in mind. But he could have.
As far as the pretzels go, well, I’ll gladly trade those for anything Gene Philbin has on the menu Saturday.

Ed Ackerman