Tag Archives: beer pairing

New Belgium Pairing Dinner

Last week I received a generous invite from owner Jeff at The Laboratory to join them for their first ever beer pairing dinner with New Belgium. Beer and food pairing? Of course I said yes! I’ve been dying to try out The Laboratory since before they opened and this was the perfect excuse to get a head start on my first day off in over 60 days. I feel like I’d earned it.
AM2The menu looked absolutely divine and I couldn’t wait to try everything and see how differently pairings are done in Colorado since my last one was one that I actually hosted in Studio City.
AMI walked into the spacious restaurant which is located in a walk-in basement-style space decorated with beakers, science experimental displays and glass garage doors.
AM1After securing my seat at a table (allll byyyy myyyyseeeeelf) I was immediately greeted by the owners Angela, Dave and Jeff. We chatted for a bit about the concept of The Laboratory as well as the build out, and then I ordered a sample of the New Belgium Garage Series they had on tap.
AM3LOVE the little beakers they served the beer in!
AM4Chef Don Braddy and New Belgium brewer Tamar Banner introduced the food and the beer and explained exactly why each pairing was created and what to look for with each bite and sip. The first course was a mixture of appetizers – Vegetable ceviche served in a cucumber shell, fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and basil drizzled with balsamic vinegar on a soft slice of baguette, buffalo sausage and peach compote with spicy red peppers on a soft slice of baguette and oysters on the half shell drizzled with Sriracha, all paired with Blue Paddle Pilsner. This was the second oyster I’ve ever eaten and while I was landlocked in Colorado and slightly fearful of eating seafood so far inland, it was absolutely fresh and sweet with a hint of ocean water and zip of spice. The Czech-style Pilsner quickly calmed the burn from the wide variety of peppers and was a perfect palate cleanser for what was to come.
AM5My absolute favorite dish of the night – Coffeed butternut cup stuffed with duck confit and walnuts, fresh thyme and butter paired with 1554 Black Lager. Perfectly tender butternut squash and the delicate duck confit melted together with each bite while the black lager cut through the richness of the dish and accentuated the hint of coffee. Surprisingly enough, this dish brought out the notes of dark fruit in the beer that I’d never noticed before. Need. More. Now.
AM6Seared scallop, grilled avocado, crab and cream cheese crouton and mango relish paired with La Terroir dry hopped sour. The most interesting pairing in my opinion – while I thought the sour beer would overwhelm the delicateness of the perfectly cooked scallop, it married wonderfully when mixed with the mango relish and cut through the smoky avocado and robust blend of fresh crab and cream cheese. The accent of fried herbs added an earthy, buttery finish to the dish.
AM7Roasted pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin served with chestnut polenta and spinach, drizzled with pear-cherry gastrique and paired with Trippel. The one pairing I didn’t think worked out quite as well as it could have – tender pork wrapped in crispy pancetta and topped with the sweet gastrique was slightly too robust for the gentle Trippel, or likely should have been plated before the intensity of the La Terroir. No matter, this dish was cooked perfectly and I loved every aspect of it. I boxed half of it since I was about to explode and needed to save space for the dessert.
AM8DESSERT. Salted caramel ice cream served in a chocolate and BACON coated waffle cone topped with brandy and stout sauce and cashew crumbles, paired with Salted Chocolate Belgian Stout. Heaven. The ice cream had a just hint of salt to balance out the sweetness without being overwhelming and the crispy waffle cone was generously coated with candied bacon and sweet caramel sauce and made the focus of the Salted Chocolate Belgian Stout more towards the rich roasty notes rather than the intense sweetness I’d experienced before.
AM9I rolled home stuffed and happy with a handful of leftovers, and can’t wait to head back to The Laboratory for a regular meal and see what other delicious creativity the chef, Don Braddy, can roll out of the kitchen.

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Ladies at Ladyface: 18

The Christmas season is upon us! Ladies at Ladyface had our (now annual) White Elephant gift exchange and were treated to a mini-brewmaster dinner by the lovely host and owner, Cyrena.
ERMAHGERD. The absolute perfect winter menu. I’ve been begging for shortribs since they disappeared last winter!
The first beer up was one of my all-time Ladyface favorites – Derailleur!
Arugula, sliced apple, candied almonds and salty Fourme d’ Ambert tossed with a light cider vinaigrette. The citrus in the beer cut through the saltiness of the funky cheese and brought out the acidity of the dressing. Drool.
Ale-braised beef shortribs with a fried sweet pickles atop horseradish celeriac. This was paired with La Trappistine – smoky shortribs and sweet dark malts laced with alcohol warmth. A cozy blanket on a plate (and in a glass).
The pairing was capped off with a cheesecake topped with sour cherries. The sour cherry brown ale wasn’t quite ready, so they mixed cherry cordial liqueur with Picture City Porter. Holy Heaven. This was the highlight of the evening for me – hints of sweet cherries swirling between ribbons of rich chocolate and rounding out with a final candy bite.
In between bites we picked up our gifts. The table was overflowing with beer and beer-related gifts. I ended up with the only kind of glass I didn’t yet have in my large beer glassware portfolio, and I’m telling you now, I have a majority of the styles of beer glasses out there. Just waiting to receive my passglass for Christmas.
(Hint hint)
It was yet another wonderful evening with a great group of craft beer-geek ladies.
Yep, this sums us up pretty well.Our next meeting will be January 21st – a brown bag quiz. Blind tasting for style along with socializing, laughing, imbibing and eating. In other words – another perfect night awaits us in the new year!

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Cafe Firenze

When we got back Sunday night after the CBC12, I was definitely in need of a little detox.
…which would have to wait until Monday to begin.
Commander Matt and I headed to Cafe Firenze, an Italian restaurant in Moorpark, for a meeting with the chef Adam and the owner Jacopo, and took along a few gift bottles to share.
We brought them with the intent of letting the chef do a tasting, but somehow the bottle wound up getting opened at a table when they invited us to stay for dinner.
Cafe Firenze is located within a strip mall off of Los Angeles Avenue. Very unassuming from the front, excluding the rich velvet drapes and wine barrels, the inside is spacious and warm with high ceilings, dim lighting and soft cushions in each booth.
The menu is extensive and impossible to choose from, but somehow we managed.
We started off with their appetizer special – swordfish carpaccio with artichoke hearts and greens, drizzled with olive oil. Since we had those three bottles with us, a pairing was in order. The tart and dry Golden Spur Saison balanced out the pickled artichoke hearts and didn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the tender swordfish.
I went for the braised shortribs – Kobe beef that was so tender it fell apart if you looked at it too intensely topped with sauteed mushrooms and resting atop a fragrant cushion of polenta spiked with parmesan cheese and herbs.
Commander Matt went with the other special of the day – medium rare medallions of beef with roasted baby vegetables. Simple, elegant and mouthwateringly delicious. Both of our main courses were paired with Valkyrie California Alt – the sweet maltiness brought out the caramelization of the meat and balanced out the salty bite of parmesan from my polenta.
Adam, the chef, sent out this piece of artwork for our dessert – flourless chocolate cake with housemade vanilla bean gelato on top. Out of this world! We paired this with the Protector IPA, the hop bitterness cutting through the rich chocolate and calming the upfront sweetness.

Next time I’m there – Balsamic martini. Most definitely.

Cafe Firenze
563 West Los Angeles Avenue
Moorpark, California 93021
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am-3pm and 5pm-close


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