Monthly Archives: June 2013

Firestone Pairing Dinner

Yet again, I was forced to host, and therefore attend, a delicious beer pairing dinner – this time at SALT in Calabasas.
AM It’s been heating up here in Southern California, so unfortunately we had to abandon the beautiful patio area in exchange for some very welcomed air conditioning.
AM1 If you haven’t been to SALT yet, I highly recommend you go. Chef and owner David Iino is a magician when it comes to food. When he sent me the menu so I could pair the beers, I started hyperventilating with happiness.
saltmenu I’m sorry for taunting you, but you’re more than welcome to join any upcoming dinners I host!
AM2 There were six beers to pair with each dish, plus a little something extra that the good folks at Firestone brought!
AM3 The first course were tray passed appetizers – vegetable spring rolls….
AM5 And ahi tuna tacos with a touch of chipotle mayo.
AM4 I paired these with Pivo Hoppy Pils – a nice smooth lager with a lingering hop bite at the end. This beer is clean enough to not get in the way of the simple dish, but has just enough of a spicy bitterness to add a little extra flavor at the end and tie the dishes together.
AM6 Lobsta mac ‘n cheese was next, paired with Pale 31. Wonderfully creamy with nice chunks of sweet, tender lobster and studded with wild mushrooms. The Pale 31 hop bitterness sliced through that creaminess while the sweet malts enhanced the flavor of the lobster without overwhelming it. It’s all about balance.
b1 Crispy Thai snapper with honey chili sauce paired with Union Jack IPA. The bright citrus bitterness in the Union Jack cut through the rich, crispy batter on the fish and helped the honey chili sauce give off a slightly more fiery spice.
b2 I introduce my boss, stealing the limelight, making me take even longer to get that first wonderful bite of food. Thanks.
b3 This was my favorite dish of the evening – a lamb slider with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and ketchup leather paired with DBA. Ridiculously tender lamb with no gamey-ness at all, funky goat cheese and sticky sweet ketchup (like a Fruit Roll-Up, but way weirder and more delicious) on top of a lightly toasted bun. The vanilla and oak notes of the DBA brought out the earthiness of both the goat cheese and the lamb, tying it together in a perfect marriage. I’ll be going back and asking Chef David to recreate this one for me.
b4 The final entree was grilled flatiron steak with DBA mustard and smoked salt paired with Wookey Jack black IPA. The steak was tender and smokey with hints of sugar from the meat caramelizing on the grill, and the tangy mustard was a perfect contrast. The subtle hints of coffee and chocolate in the Wookey Jack enhanced those smokey notes of the steak while the brutal hops cut through the richness of the meat and scrubbed the palate.
b6 The dessert. Oh, help me, the dessert. A small chocolate lava cake topped with Wookey and whiskey braised cherries, drizzled with caramel paired with both Velvet Merlin and Wookey Jack. The Velvet Merlin‘s rich chocolate notes showcased the sweetness of the chocolate while the Wookey Jack cut through the richness and played more to the tang of the cherries. Resonance with the Velvet Merlin and contrast with the Wookey Jack. That’s how we roll.
b5 And finally, the perfect ending to any meal. Double DBA from 2012 and a food coma.

A HUGE thanks to Chef David and all of the staff at SALT for making such a delicious, memorable evening!


Filed under beer pairing

Samuel Adams Pairing Dinner

My job is awesome. Awesome and delicious. I’m the craft beer pairing and education specialist for my company, which means that I get to help design beer pairing menus and participate in drool-worthy dinners.
am Last night, that dinner was at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine in Woodland Hills. If you follow me on Twitter, you got a preview of what I’m about to show you.
am3 Samuel Adams was the brewery of the night. Everyone filed in and was greeted with the social beer – Boston Lager, along with a keepsake pint glass.
am2 The tables were laid out in a German picnic family-style, forcing everyone to meet new people and share awful and hilarious jokes.
am4 Mike from Samuel Adams was there to give an introduction to the flagship beer and the glass design and how it affects the beer.
am1 I’d met with Bart, the chef, about a month and a half ago, carrying in a full case of beer and some extra on the side to make sure we got the correct beers paired with the dishes. It was a rough afternoon of research, I tell ya.
am5 The first dish that came out was the lobster sandwich on a housemade pita bread that was full of peppery lobster bisque and drizzled with avocado creme. We paired this with Samuel Adams Summer Ale – light and citrusy with a hint of coriander and grains of paradise that finishes dry.
am6 The spices in the beer matched the pepper of the bisque while the citrus enhanced the natural sweetness of the lobster without overwhelming the dish. I demolished this.
am7 The salad was next – spicy arugula wish goat cheese, strawberries, roasted nuts and drizzled with a citrus vinaigrette that incorporated the pairing beverage – Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider. Tangy and sweet, the dressing was absolutely wonderful and showcased the acidity of the cider. (Angry Orchard is made by Boston Beer, for those of you who were unaware.)
am8 The first entree was something I’d been looking forward to since the first tasting (although I was looking forward to everything after they sent me the menu): Seared scallops with a white chocolate foam and peppered parmesan chip on top paired with Samuel Adams Norse Legend Sahti.
am9 The sweetness of the white chocolate foam was tamed by the earthiness of the beer and pine of the juniper berries. At this point, I was starting to fill up. Only one and a half scallops was consumed, to my chagrin.
am10 Final entree – Beef cheeks. Face cheeks, not butt cheeks for those of you who are wondering. Bart slow roasted these in a stew for hours, until they were falling apart. No knife needed.
am11 I paired this with the Samuel Adams Third Voyage Imperial IPA – intense hoppiness and carbonation cut right through the rich fattiness of the beef and scrubbed the palate after every sip. I finished more than I probably should have thanks to that pairing…
am12 And finally – a chocolate bomb with Jameson caramel and gold leaf paired with Samuel Adams Dark Depths Baltic IPA (which is actually a lager, but labeled as an ale?).
am13 Intense chocolate filled with light and airy marshmallow ice cream. The hints of chocolate in the Dark Depths matched the flavor of the thick shell while the hoppiness evened out the intense sweetness and cleansed the palate. I only had a few bites of this before I had to quit. For shame.

Overall, a very successful dinner! Thanks to Bart and the entire team at Roy’s for their incredible menu!


Filed under beer pairing

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

I just can’t seem to stop celebrating this past week!
am7 My Certified Cicerone pin and badge came in the mail yesterday, sending me off into another frenzied hour of joy.
am10 I got a carwash for the first time in months. With the small amount of time I have for myself, I kind of saw this as a celebration… Oy, I’m getting old.
am6 I also got back into the kitchen! These pumpkin spiced donuts were a regular in my life until a year ago, when my life got tossed around in beautiful ways and I had to move four times because of shifting jobs. I made these delicious donuts again, took one bite and realized something was off… Instead of 1/2 cup of brown sugar, I’d only added 1/4 cup. Well, crap.

They were still delicious, but obviously lacking just a tad.

I did what any normal person would do – melted butter, dipped the tops in butter and then in a mix of cinnamon and sugar.
am3 BOOM. Problem solved.
am4 Then I took another bite. Just to make sure the problem was actually solved.
am5 It was. Oh, my goodness, it was.
am I had quite a bit of pumpkin leftover from the donuts, so I made a form of mac ‘n cheese using pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

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Serves 4-5
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time
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55 minutes
Allergy Milk, Wheat
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
A healthy version of macaroni and cheese with an added dose of dietary fiber and Vitamin A from pumpkin puree, as well as whole grains from whole wheat pasta.


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 12oz whole wheat pasta ((3/4 lbs))


Step 1
In a frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Step 2
Add the onions, garlic and sage and saute until the onions are translucent.
Step 3
In a blender (I used my Magic Bullet), combine the pumpkin puree and cooked onions, garlic and sage, and blend until smooth.
Step 4
Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan and heat through.
Step 5
While the sauce is heating, cook pasta according to package directions.
Step 6
Add the mascarpone and parmesan to the pumpkin sauce and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 7
Drain the pasta once al dente, reserving about half a cup of the pasta water.
Step 8
Place the drained pasta back into the pot and add the pumpkin sauce, stirring until all the pasta is coated. Add pasta water if necessary to thin out the sauce.
Step 9
Any add-ins should be mixed in next - I sauteed chicken apple sausages and added frozen peas to give a little more substance.
Step 10
Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and devour.

am1 And since I felt so healthy after this meal, I decided it was time again to celebrate.
am8Berliner Weisse with (way too much) woodruff syrup at Golden Road.
am9And a sample of their West by Northwest collaboration brew with Deschutes! And now I’m off to prep for a crapload of beer dinners I’m hosting in the near future.

Life be good.


Filed under Recipes


You guys, it’s official! I am a Certified Cicerone® !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
beginning And this is the day that started it all. Odell’s Small Batch Revival back in May 2011. I was hanging out with my brother and sister-in-law, joking about how I could run their brewery tasting room once they started it. They told me they wanted a beer sommelier to head up the tap room. As soon as we got back from the trip, I googled “beer sommelier” and began my adventure into the world of becoming a Certified Cicerone®.
Photo on 2011-08-11 at 12.54 It took almost two years to the day, and two attempts, but all of that suffering and frustration was worth it in the end!
am3 The first attempt was down at Stone with Grayson. Three months later, the results were in. I passed the tasting portion and missed passing the written by 3%. THREE PERCENT. Being so close, yet so very, very far away, was demoralizing, but I knew I had to give it another go.
am4 Last month, I decided it was time to take the plunge again. This time, the test was at The Bruery down in Anaheim. After another nail-biting and stressful test, the tour of the brewery really helped settle my nerves.

Today, the email came in:
Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 4.08.06 PM
And now, it’s time to celebrate!
Photo on 2013-06-06 at 15.15 #2 I’m debating which beer from my cellar to enjoy tonight…
am Any recommendations would be appreciated!


Filed under Cicerone

City Tavern Pint Night

On my final day in Colorado, we left early for the airport and grabbed a quick bite to eat on the way.
am Miniature egg, chorizo, grilled pepper and arugula sammich from Dallabetta’s Muse in Loveland.
am1 The airport was bustling with activity as they tried to load everyone onto the plane early in order to avoid two massive cells that were headed our way.
am2 “I’m glad you took the window seat. You’ll be the one getting struck by lightning instead of me.” – Sweet words from the person sitting next to me.
am3 After a few rough patches and harsh bumps, we made it over the storm cells and back into California.

The next day, Enegren was back at City Tavern in Culver City, spreading the joy of beer, and graciously inviting me along to eat a lot of delicious food and drink handcrafted beer. And take a few pictures. That too.
am4 We started off with a flight, just to make sure everything was tasting as it should.
am7 am9 I went for a glass of Golden Spur Saison. Gotta enjoy the seasonal before it runs out!
am6 Their rotating beer list had a few new beers I hadn’t heard of before. I tried the Wimpy IPA – a collaboration between Marin Brewing and Green Flash. Exceptionally pineapple-y on the nose and flavor and only 3.3%ABV! Tastes like a big IPA with just a flick instead of a punch of alcohol.
am8 The dinner menu has shifted around a bit too. After a good half hour of deliberation and changing my mind three times, I decided on the pork chop.
am10 Bourbon-glazed pork chop topped with apricot jam and apple butter, and served with jalapeno cheddar cornbread. Mind-blowing and deliciously tender, boozy and sweet. This dish was bliss on a plate.

The night ended slowly as I tried to emerge from my food coma and failed. Many flights and pints were had round the entire restaurant followed by quite a few people approaching the brewers table to extend their compliments. Quite a successful and delicious night!

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Filed under beer tasting