Thursday September 15th marked yet another fantastic beer pairing dinner at City Tavern in Culver City, this time with Ladyface Ale Companie. The theme was “PICNIC” and the offerings were gourmet deconstructed, reconstructed versions of standard picnic classics. Each course was expertly made to pair with the Ladyface offering, and each course succeeded in doing exactly what it was trying to do. Here is a look at the menu:
Orzo Salad with Crab, Avocado, Grapefruit and beet vinaigrette w/ Chaparral Saison
Potted Duck Confit and Crisps w/ Chesebro IPA
Smoked Cocoa-Rubbed Tri Tip Sandwich and Potato Salad w/ Picture City Porter
Spiked Watermelon and Peppered
Strawberries w/ Sazerac-Oaked Red Rye
Hop Infused Cotton Candy
Our table’s favorite dish was definitely the orzo salad paired with the Saison. The saison was very sage forward, which comes from the 6-7 lbs of sage honey used in the brew. It paired really nicely with the saltiness from the crab and beats and the herbal spiciness of the olive oiled orzo. I actually noticed a lot more pepper notes in the saison after my first bite of the orzo. It’s always exciting to see how these foods interact with their pairing. Flavors change, spices become more apparent or mellow, and you become more aware of everything going on around you. Basically, food pairing dinners are like activating your spidey-sense – this may be the closest we can ever get to becoming a superhero – write that down.
Despite the overwhelming love for the orzo salad there were definitely lots of other individual favorites during the course of the pairing dinner. Todd Blickenstaff, who provided the artistic photos for this article, really liked the potted duck confit with duckfat crisps. The aggressive double IPA served with this course really helped cut through the rich fat from the duck. This was a really interesting and delicious dish that I would love to try again with some different styles of beers.
Both Matt & Katie preferred the orzo salad over everything, but Katie’s favorite beer was the Tripel that was served with the first course, the deviled egg. Now, I’m really not trying to blow steam here, but this has got to be one of the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had. Asparagus, caviar, creamy eggness, and an excellent Belgian Tripel? What’s not to love. Ladyface’s Tripel is very complex and has a lot in common with the Saison style. It’s dry, spicy, and even had some “wild” characteristics as well. I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys Belgian beer, saisons, or needs a refreshing craft beer on a hot summer’s day.
The tri-tip was a delicious main course. The cocoa rub complimented the chocolate notes in the Picture City Porter. It was an excellent cut of beef, and the beer went down very smooth. The porter seemed very “to style” and didn’t deviate too far from classic guidelines with the exception of the cocoa nibs. It was the perfect choice for the tri-tip pairing. The spiced potato salad on the side was also really tasty. It always blows me away when someone can take such a simple staple food and make it taste layered and complex. Great job, Jessica!
On to the dessert, which was my favorite. Spiked watermelon, both red & yellow, and a strawberry short cake with sea salt on the top. I’ve just recently acquired a taste for salt on certain desserts. Sea salt with dark chocolate can be really interesting, but I never thought about sea salt on top of a shortcake biscuit. It really tied everything together and was the perfect way to wrap up the dinner. The Sazerak-Oaked Red Rye was very whiskey heavy. I would equate it to sharing a glass of scotch and a cigar with Dad while the women-folk talk about books and flowers on the patio. I’m not trying to be sexist here; it just made me feel like I was in the library-study of a mansion and somewhat more distinguished than I am right now. It’s really hard to be critical when the quality of the food and drink are so high, but if I had to say something, I would say that I feel like the whiskey character was a little too forward for the pairing. I enjoyed both the beer and the dessert separately, but I think the whiskey character in rye overpowered the delicateness of the shortcake and watermelon. Although the vanilla flavors in the red rye did taste really nice with the whipped cream – so there.
8.3%, 8.7%, 10.9
%, 7.0%, 7.2% This is ABV (alcohol by volume) for each of the Ladyface ales in the order that they were served. These offerings together were not for the faint of heart or alcohol tolerance. Luckily you are only getting small 4 oz taster sizes of each beer, or else we can say goodbye to all coherent thought and hello happy fuzzy shadow of a memory.
Ladyface is still a fairly young brewery, having opened in 2009, but like so many other craft breweries in Southern California, it’s creating incredible high quality brews. The owners are innovative and clearly enjoy everything they are doing from the sourcing of local ingredients to the care they put into making their product. It’s a love and passion you can taste when you have your first, second, and third glass. City Tavern has been open for 5 months now and they have, in that short time, become a craft beer & food mecca on the West Side. Their focus on California craft beer is perfect for the locapour & locavore Los Angelinos who are looking for quality places to spend their time and moola.
I really do look forward to these beer dinners when they happen. I love the food, and I love the beer. It’s great to see talented people collaborating competitively to create something truly unique and memorable. I’ll see you at the next beer dinner. Cheers!
– Kip B.
Los Angeles Ale Works™
P.S. Jessica made a really cool extra dessert – Hop Infused Cotton Candy! If you go into City Tavern make sure you ask about it.
P.P.S. If you missed the City Tavern newsletter here is a link – The Citizen
*Photos by Todd Blickenstaff