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!