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"Vegan Beer Night II" Review

Tuesday night’s LOVELIKEBEER event at Blind Lady Ale House was a huge success & such a blast! If you are a vegan, vegetarian, veg curious, craft beer fan & living in San Diego, these events are not to be missed! 

       

LOVELIKEBEER has been taking San Diego by storm with their vegan food & craft beer pairing dinners! “Vegan Beer Night I” back in May was hugely successful & left the conscious community wanting more. So it is no wonder that nearly triple the amount of people showed up at their second event. A line of hopeful patrons formed down the block prior to the restaurant’s opening & that line remained for the entire evening.

       

BLAH’s Chef Aaron LaMonica created & prepared a gorgeous menu of seasonal, locally sourced vegan food to serve alongside the selection of hand-picked vegan craft brews.

       

Brewmaster Lee Chase, owner of Automatic Brewing Company & co-owner of BLAH, even brewed a very special beer for the evening.

       

"Automatic Coffee Coconut Wheat Beer" - An American wheat beer dry-hopped with organic coconut & coffee beans. 

I really enjoyed this beer & primarily picked up on the coffee flavor, with just a touch of a coconut finish. It was very refreshing & paired beautifully with the first course.

So let’s get to it…my favorite part…the food!

FIRST COURSE 

       

Local Yellow Tomato Gazpacho, Smoked Chino Ranch Eggplant & Zucchini Capponata, Fried Suzie’s Farm Squash Blossom

I have a warm place in my heart for a nice chilled gazpacho on a summer evening, add a fried squash blossom & you’ve taken my heart completely. This was such a lovely first dish with a gorgeous composition of fresh flavors, vibrant colors, & contrasting yet complimentary textures. 

SECOND COURSE

       

Grilled Achiote Marinated Tofu, Suzie’s Farm Hungarian Pepper Stuffed with Chino Corn Risotto, Crow’s Pass Farm Potatoes, & Chimichurri Sauce

This was one of the most beautifully presented dishes I’ve ever seen & it was certainly as delicious to the palate as it was stunning to the eyes. This was by far the hit of the night, according to the consensus at my table. I loved everything about this dish! At first glance - the tofu, risotto & potatoes sounded a bit heavy, but the dish was light & nicely balanced. The flavor & texture of the tofu was perfection & I so appreciate that, as I know it can be a challenge to truly master the art of a well executed tofu dish! If you are a follower of my blog, then you know I love risotto, & this creamy corn risotto was to die for. I thought the presentation in the Hungarian pepper was so pretty & unique. I have some of those in my fridge right now & was at a loss for what to do with them - now I am inspired. I am also a huge fan of chimichurri sauce, so it was another favorite component of the dish.

       

Everyone in my group loved the beer pairing of the Ballast Point Sculpin IPA as well. As they said, “the vibrant citrus notes of IPA’s pair well with traditional Mexican flavors,” & I really thought that came through here.

THIRD COURSE

       

Charred Farmers’ Market Figs alongside Valrhona Chocolate with Hazelnuts & Coffee Granita

Ahhhh, the dessert course - always anticipated by the diners & typically dreaded by the chefs. I really wanted to love this dish, as it sounded amazing to me. I adore figs & wait all year for them to come into season, & who doesn’t love chocolate—especially Valrhona? For me, the main problem with this dish was that it came out too quickly after the second pairing. I found the tofu dish & beer pairing so exciting that I really wanted to savor it. So, by the time I was ready to move on to dessert the coffee granita had completely melted, which left a bit of a watery mess on the plate. However, I did enjoy the figs & the overall flavors. I just really wish I could have enjoyed the dessert as it was intended to be experienced.

       

The beer pairing here, Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura was a bit rich for my taste as well. As I learn more about beer, I am realizing I am not a huge stout fan. As I thought about this pairing, I really tried to apply what I’d learned from my interview with Kory & Derek of LOVELIKEBEER & take a bite of food & sip of beer & see how the flavors complimented & enhanced one another. I did learn to appreciate the beer more when I tasted it with a bite of food. So, while this wasn’t the highlight of my night, I think I understand what the chef was trying to do here. The sweetness of the figs did calm & balance the richness of the chocolate & the bitter flavors in the beer. 

       

House Soyrizo Pizza with House-made Soyrizo, Pablano Chile, Fontina, Epazote, & Tomato Sauce

Since BLAH is such a popular hangout in the neighborhood, they chose to keep a portion of their regular menu available (mainly pizzas & salads), with the option of making many of those dishes vegan as well. P, soyrizo lover that he is (& me too!), ordered a non-vegan version the House Soyrizo Pizza, which I’ll admit I had a nibble of. Sooooooo goooood! I love to have pizza making parties at home & can’t wait to re-create my own version of this. 

       

Chino Ranch Fire Roasted Corn Pizza with Roasted Garlic Puree, Chanterelles, Cherry Peppers, Red Onion, & Tarragon

They also offered a “Vegan Special” pizza that my friends ordered. Note to BLAH - please put this on your regular menu!!!! It was so unique, yummy, vibrant & flavorful. I’ve never had a slice of pizza quite like this & want more, more, more!

       

LOVELIKEBEER’s Limited 2nd Edition Glass “You Can’t Stop What’s Coming”

This was truly a spectacular night! From the passionate food & beer pairings, to the charitable purpose, this brilliant concept is really taking shape & the community is positively responding. What’s even more inspiring was the healthy contribution LOVELIKEBEER was able to make to San Diego Animal Rescue as a result of the night’s success. Rumor has it that there were 500 or so in attendance, not to mention those who came but couldn’t weather the line, & the kitchen sold through all of the 3 vegan courses. Well, well done my friends. I couldn’t be happier for you & for our growing community of conscious consumers. 

Hungry (&thirsty) for more? Good news…

       

Their third event is on the books, so mark your calendars!

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