Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Gala Parfait: Feast of the Seven Fishes


You know what they say, Italians do it better.
Christmas is no exception. I had heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a coursed Christmas Eve tradition to count down the hours to Christ's midnight birth, but never have I experienced it. Until this year.
On the Table Set's holiday episode this year we decided to shake up tradition and go intimate dinner party instead of all-out Xmas bonanza like last year. Add my co-host Greg's recent collaborators Alaska Seafood graciously sharing some of their top-of-the-line sustainable seafood and our Buone Feste was heartily underway.



AND the table is set (no pun intended). In fact, Greg is such a pro I believe it was set a full day in advance.


As per usual, we had too many cooks in the kitchen — That's because some of our most talented friends were in attendance. Seven courses for seven wonderful cooks. And for extra credit, seven beverage pairings. No lazy bloggers 'round here!


To serve as guests arrived, I thought Philadelphia Fish House punch seemed a fitting choice.


Course #1: The Cuisinerd and her main squeeze are no amateurs when it comes to sea bugs, and they knocked us flat with their Grilled Alaskan Oysters and Mignonette Trio: Spicy Chipotle, Cilantro Lime, and Classic Cocktail Sauce. (Seriously, these sauces should be sold in jars.)


Their offbeat pairing choice of Cantine Elvio Tintero Grangia frizzante (90% Favorita and 10% Moscato) created a wonderfully dry and fizzy bridge to the next course.


Course #2: I volunteered for the amuse bouche. Starting with salmon roe, I got inspired by dishes from LA's Son of a Gun restaurant and in the sexy NOMA cookbook. For added depth I first cured the roe in a beer brine. I used Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's sweet and spicy Route Des Épices rye beer brewed with black and green peppercorns.


The finished amuse comprised of a Rye Crisp with Maple Cream, Beer-cured Salmon Roe, Green Chile Sugar and Fennel Top.


Course #3: Jackie the Beeroness (also behind Domestic Fits) wowed us all with her comforting Seared Alaskan Scallops wtih Smoked Sweet Corn Puree and Stout Balsamic Reduction. A sparkling wine cocktail with fresh basil and elderflower liqueur was an elegant brace.


Course #4: Chef, artist, and former Table Set guest Brian wove a tapestry of a "soup course" with his Seared Halibut over Forbidden Rice with Miso Pork Broth. For a cleansing respite, fresh lavender-infused spa water was paired.


Course #5: It wouldn't be a Table Set supper without something showy from Andy. His "Surf 'n' Turf" entree was no exception. Here, oceany Uni Capellini with Scallop, Bonito and Nori Crumble met earthy Rye Toast with Pine Nut Porcini Butter for a unique twist on the concept.
It was paired with Kabaj Rebula, a full-bodied Slavic white wine (100% Ribolla) capable of standing up to the intense flavors of the dish.


Course #6: Salad after entree? Why not?! Salad with crab? Hit me! Joy the Baker made magic with her crisp and refreshing Alaska Crab, Apple and Pomegranate Salad — a new Insalata di Mare classic. Get her recipe here.


Six courses in, I can hardly recall what we were drinking anymore... but my blurry photo shows that it was bubbly, and that we were having fun!


Course #7: And boy, the fun wasn't over yet. Greg built a mountain of it with his festive Caffè e Frittelle Dolci (Coffee & Donuts) — Glorious rosemary glazed donuts studded with gummy Swedish Fish, a highbrow/lowbrow win. I think I had seven.

In all, a beautiful night of subtlety, skill, festivity, and togetherness. Thank you to Alaska Seafood and all of our lovely guests!


Video and additional photography courtesy of Ted Houser

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dining with Doug and Karen


A few months back, my Table Set co-host Andy Windak was invited to join TJ Miller as guest chef on the Nerdist podcast Dining with Doug and Karen. They were so impressed with Andy's whimsical and heartfelt spread that they invited him back for another round. And this time, Andy asked me to join him and create a beverage program to be paired with his Breakfast for Dinner menu.


The guest co-host on our episode was Tim Heidecker of Tim & Eric fame and most recently his film The Comedy, making the total three wisecracking comedy folk to please.
No pressure.


We were given Meltdown Comics' green room to stage, where I set up a makeshift bar (which seemed to elicit excitement from the podcast's cocktail-loving producer).


I was most excited to serve the first drink, a shot to be served alongside Andy's amuse bouche. It was the first idea I experimented with once I knew the theme was breakfast, elevated: A Bloodless Mary. The concept is pretty simple, really: Infuse the spirit with tomato rather than clog the glass with thick juice. I picked cherry tomatoes from my garden and steeped them in gin for a week. The resulting liquor was golden and heady with a sun-kissed tomato cologne, bright and familiar on the palate with a lasting umami quality. I mixed the gin with lemon juice, bacon bitters, a dash of Crystal hot sauce, black pepper and celery salt, then served in frosty lemon-pepper ice shot glasses. Instant breakfast party!


Andy's amuse was a delicious Benedict Bite of homemade English muffin, fried speck, poached quail egg, and scratch hollandaise.


For round two I knew Andy was injecting some Latin love, so I mixed up a Dirty Horchata cocktail. Here I infused smoky Mezcal with Stumptown Guatemalan coffee beans, shaken with horchata and cocoa mole bitters until frothy, garnished with freshly shaved cinnamon.


The horchata was served alongside Andy's Chicken & "Waffles" -or- Coq Au Vin Chilaquiles, a composition of duck-fat-fried corn chips, braised chicken, salsa, queso fresco, cilantro, and a waffle fried egg.


What breakfast menu would be complete without the iconic Mimosa? For a seasonal twist I used dry French brut hard sparkling apple cider in place of bubbly. For the juice element I froze popsicles of fresh orange and brown sugar with a rosemary sprig "stick." The brut cider nibbled away at the ice pops slowly releasing and blending the flavors.


The corresponding course was Andy's fish course. He served Shrimp and Grits Poutine - Fish fumet gravy, butter-poached shrimp, grits "waffle fries," and bacon fat rouille.


For dessert I went with a coffee-replacing Breakfast Beer. Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (oatmeal stout brewed with coffee) enhanced lightly with Amontillado and Pedro Jiminez Sherry, garnished with a Stumptown coffee bean and freshly grated nutmeg.
Andy matched the robustness with his Hallowaffle - A pumpkin waffle, Count Chocula ice cream, maple bourbon syrup, chocolate whipped cream, and maple bacon crumble. As a bonus round he also brought out Booberry and Frankenberry ice creams. Nuts!

Overall I think our creativity was appreciated, though pushing the envelope always results in a few confounding reactions. Listen for yourself and imagine what it all must taste like while listening to other people sip, chew and slurp. (*wink*)

Listen to our episode of Dining with Doug and Karen


Photos by Ted Houser

Friday, March 16, 2012

Buvare: Black Velvet


We drink from time to time on-air while we record The Table Set podcast, but our St. Patty's day episode was next level (is Andy.. drunk?). Irish stout bottles littered the table between our microphones like the aftermath of a long night at Tom Bergin's Tavern. But what's that? A Prosecco bottle? Why that's because Andy brought over a sampling of stouts and porters to try in one of my favorite beer cocktails - The Black Velvet. A sensuous marriage of sparkling wine and stout, this year trade in your green beer for an elegant moussey treat.

Listen to The Table Set: Green Beer

Black Velvet

1 part Guinness Irish Stout
1 part dry Prosecco or brut Champagne

Fill a flute or Collins glass halfway with Guinness.
Top slowly with bubbly (over the back of a spoon carefully for the layered effect).
Enjoy, you're classy!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Gala Parfait: Mardi Gras


Let's break it down: New Orleans is my jam.
Always has been since the first day I stepped foot on its swampy foundation. Funny then that I've never really been one to celebrate its most iconic holiday - Mardi Gras.
I attribute this mostly to the fact that I have never been in NOLA for the festivities and thus fostered an affinity for it. I know about the plastic beads (and naughty things done to procure said beads), parade floats, excessive liver pickling, Bourbon Street crowds, and garish color schemes... Though for all I love about NOLA, these marks generally excite me the least. But then this year was different. Maybe I miss the dank scent of the Quarter, that high octane slushy daiquiri, and a little night music.

So this past weekend I celebrated the Angeleno way, at the Original Farmer's Market under the shade of the Gumbo Pot where locals claim tables as early as breakfast time on Sunday to have prime seats once the bands start playing and the afternoon beer starts flowing. I joined annual ringleader Lisa early for coffee and beignets, and heavy bead sorting. I stayed until the Zydeco dance floor picked up as the sun went down.

Spotted: Neighborly accoutrement competition.
One fancy kazoo.
Noon = Abita Amber.
The royal Zulu coconut bead.
Spicy Food. Cool Jazz.
King Cake, delivered to your doorstep.
Step 1.
Step 2.
Step 3.
The King Cake baby is found! And thus next year's host selected.

For more on Mardi Gras, and my general love of New Orleans...

Listen to The Table Set: Gimme Some Beads!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Croquer: Starbelly


Blind dates are funny.
Especially platonic ones (that spring from successful romantic ones).
While in San Francisco for Foodbuzz Blogger Fest, my new beau's best friend (who lives in the Mission) and I decided we should most definitely meet, if independently. She suggested lunch at Starbelly in the Castro. For some reason the name to me conjured pho or vegan fare. Thus I was happily surprised by the casual modern pub known best for their pizza.


Our server asked if this would be a boozy brunch. Laura and I exchanged a thin-lipped smile, before blurting out drink orders. Day drinking is nicely disguised with a little lemonade, so I went the shandy route. But Laura's spicy michelada was something serious. I was happy to learn right away that in addition to tending several bars in such a serious cocktail city Laura is also an aspiring blogger (goose!).


My weekend was to be filled with big meals, sampling rich gourmet products and boozing hard, so I voted for veggies and Laura heartily agreed. We started with the little gem caesar with avocado and buttery croutons and a side of broccoli tossed with garlic, chile and lemon. Despite their simplicity both dishes were pleasing and wholesome, and exactly what we wanted.


But this is a pizza place. We ordered a seasonal special, painted with black garlic puree and embellished with smooth ricotta, roasted butternut squash, fried sage and pine nuts. The thin toasty crust and mellow, warming flavors were perfect for a chilly afternoon respite. We devoured our slices, but not without a second beer cocktail. Our server said he was shocked to [over]hear this was our first meeting, and snapped our picture with Laura's camera. Of us, and an old Polaroid snapshot of our meeting-sake, of course.
The sun was starting to slowly disappear behind the townhouses of the Mission walking Laura back. She turned suddenly toward a storefront and I mistook it as a step toward a divey pizza joint. But I was ready to follow her in for another beer and slice. I suppose that makes a good first date - willingness to relive it. Or at least to try.


3583 16th St. San Francisco, CA 94114; 415.252.7500
starbellysf.com
Starbelly on Urbanspoon