Ah, beer. I like beer.
I also like beer/food pairings, which is much newer concept than wine/food pairings. Can't say I know a ton about pairings except that I am not a big fan of believing in hard and fast rules when it comes to pairings. Above all, it should taste good. Sometimes, being too technical about it takes the fun out of it. C'mon, how bad is great beer + great food?
When I saw that Farmhouse Cafe was pairing a lunch with AleSmith brews, I was sold. I've been wanting to visit Farmhouse for a while and I love, love, love AleSmith's beers.
Obligatory menu shot:
It was great that brewmaster Peter Zien was there to talk about each beer. One of the greatest things about San Diego is the craft beer scene and I like that there are a lot of brewers in town who really, really love what they do.
Their passion? Saves me from having to drink fizzy yellow water.
First Course- Yellowfin tuna tartare. Watermelon. Harissa. Crème fraiche.
Pairing- AleSmith X, American Pale Ale
The fresh and light tartare was perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon. Crisp with watermelon and perfectly toasted bread, this was really delicious. Pairing-wise, it was a little too light for X, which is a great pale ale, but its hoppiness overwhelms the mild tuna, watermelon, and crème fraiche. The dollop of harissa, however, made the tartare a worthy adversary for the hoppy ale. I guess it's those little details that make pairings work.
Second Course- Tuscan melon & duck prosciutto salad (La Milpa Farms organic arugula, dijon vinaigrette, balsamic drizzle).
Pairing- AleSmith Horny Devil, White Ale brewed with coriander
Thin slices of Tuscan melon, which is milder than the typical cantaloupe, is paired with deliciously salty and rich duck prosciutto and peppery arugula. Great dish with all of the flavors nicely balanced. It went well with the floral and spicy notes of the beer.
Third course- Meyer Ranch hanger steak. Pommes sauté. Bordelaise sauce.
Pairing- AleSmith Grand Cru, Belgian strong dark ale
Dark ales are my favorite and I'm a sucker for steak and potatoes. The steak was fork-tender and the bordelaise sauce so yummy that I nearly licked the plate. Sautéd potatoes were also very tender and the starchiness perfectly complemented the subtle sweetness of the bordelaise. The Grand Cru/steak pairing was the best of the meal, with the rich dark ale having the full body needed to stand up to red meat. Much like a full-bodied red wine would pair easily with this dish. Fun fact: the Grand Cru and Horny Devil are fermented with yeasts from a Trappist monastery in Belgium.
Waiting for the last course with AleSmith's Speedway Stout. And awesome salt/pepper shakers.
Fourth course- Flourless dark chocolate cake. Crème anglaise. Candied bacon.
Pairing- AleSmith Speedway Stout, Imperial Stout
I left the table briefly and returned to this lovely dessert.
D: It's effin' bacon praline. Nice.
The cake was perfectly executed, its flourless nature making it more like a dense mousse. I'd say flourless chocolate cakes and chocolate mousses are among the best ways to enjoy chocolate. It's a texture thing, with the smooth creaminess matching the richness of flavor. Speedway Stout has coffee and caramel notes, which complimented the chocolate, and its slight bitterness went with the saltiness of the bacon. Another good pairing and rich enough to warrant a post-lunch nap.
2121 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
9368 Cabot Drive
San Diego, CA 92126