Last night the wonderful folks at Tuning Fork in Studio City had a beer pairing dinner with Golden Road brews. I was (yet again) lucky enough to be able to help design the pairings and host the event.
Five dishes and five brews. I had to mentally prepare my stomach, and I had boxes ready to pack whatever I couldn’t finish to take home.
“It’s a Great Time to Be Alive!” – the official title of the evening. And it is. It really is.
Tuning Fork is a newer restaurant located on Ventura Place with a rustic wood bar and family-style picnic tables. Owners Joseph and Martin man the helm, while Chef Jay works his brilliance in the kitchen. The staff is possibly the friendliest I’ve come across in a long time, and all the customers are instantly welcomed as close friends.
Six beers on tap and almost 40 bottled beers! The selection there is mind-boggling.
The tables were set, carafes were filled with water, empty dump buckets prepared…
Golden Road flannel was repped. We were set.
We started off the evening with a full pour of Cabrillo Kölsch to welcome everyone in.
It was a full house. They ended up having to close the restaurant completely to accommodate everyone who was calling for seats!
I stuck with small pours and even smaller sips since I was being all responsible and stuff. The first pairing was the Cabrillo Kölsch with applewood smoked bacon mac ‘n cheese pops.
Mac ‘n cheese deep fried. Anything deep fried is a win, but these were beyond delicious. Sturdy yet full of creamy cheese and tender pieces of smoky bacon, wrapped in a crust of fried perfection. The clean finish and high carbonation of the Kölsch whisked away the richness as soon as the beer touched the tongue.
The second course was spicy Veracruz seafood ceviche with Hefeweizen. The sweet citrus in the beer marries perfectly with the acidity of the lemon and lime juice used in the ceviche without overwhelming the delicate fish. The final bite of brutal spice was calmed by the smooth wheat in the brew.
IPA braised short ribs on quinoa cake and swiss chard paired with Point the Way IPA. Rich and fall-apart tender short ribs covered in thick gravy are balanced with a gently hoppy IPA that slice through that richness while subtle notes of caramel match with the caramelized meat. And quinoa and swiss chard makes it healthy. That’s how this works.
Chef Jay brought out a palate cleanser immediately after – tangy sweet sorbet to scrub away any lingering hop bitterness or fattiness from the rich cuts of meat.
Jerk spice mole chicken with coconut rice and plantains paired with Wolf Among Weeds IPA. Tropical notes of pineapple in the beer tie in perfectly with the Caribbean-style dish, while rich mole sauce satisfies all the senses. I only had a few bites of this dish and packed it up with the intention of having it for breakfast this morning. Which I did. It has banana, therefore it is breakfast.
The finale of the evening was a traditional English trifle with layers of fresh berries, vanilla custard and sweet crumbly goodness, paired with It’s Not Always Sunny In LA black IPA. Intense bitterness with hints of roast tames the sweetness of the trifle and makes each spoonful even more decadent, yet less filling at the same time. I put this picture up and immediately went to the fridge to finish off the leftovers from last night. Consuming it now – true story.
Rob from Golden Road explained the background of the beers, Chef Jay introduced the dishes and I explained the purpose of why we’d paired which beer with which dish. Education was studded throughout giveaways by the two owners, Joseph and Martin, and the crowds were rowdy and happy.
I have to say, this was the most successful pairing dinner I’ve had to date! I can’t wait for the next one!
Yet again, I was forced to host, and therefore attend, a delicious beer pairing dinner – this time at SALT in Calabasas.
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.
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.
I’m sorry for taunting you, but you’re more than welcome to join any upcoming dinners I host!
There were six beers to pair with each dish, plus a little something extra that the good folks at Firestone brought!
The first course were tray passed appetizers – vegetable spring rolls….
And ahi tuna tacos with a touch of chipotle mayo.
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.
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.
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.
I introduce my boss, stealing the limelight, making me take even longer to get that first wonderful bite of food. Thanks.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The tables were laid out in a German picnic family-style, forcing everyone to meet new people and share awful and hilarious jokes.
Mike from Samuel Adams was there to give an introduction to the flagship beer and the glass design and how it affects the beer.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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…
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?).
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!