Posts tagged with sea rocket bistro:
Several weeks ago I learned about True Kitchen Creatives & their inaugural "Vegan Sunday Brunch" event at the very veg-friendly Sea Rocket Bistro & it went immediately on my calendar. Vegan brunch is hard to come by in this city & I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.
Of course Jyoti Bihanga offers their twice monthly vegetarian buffet, OB People’s serves a darn good breakfast, & Casa de Luz has a healthy macrobiotic spread - but a truly mind blowing vegan brunch where you can fuel up on pour-over coffee, sip mimosas, & indulge in rich vegan comfort breakfast food? Practically unheard of. This event was not affiliated with SDBW, but was certainly a great way for the craft beer kids to fill their bellies before day 3 of boozy events around town, & it became the “official after-party” for yesterday’s “San Diego Veg Fest”, & we had a hunch that this was gonna go off….& it did. So glad we listened to our intuition & arrived at 9 am! I heard people waited upwards of 2 hours for a table as the morning progressed. Reminded me of the instant success of LOVELIKEBEER’s vegan pairing events. Truly, this city is hungry for vegan food. These prosperous pop-up events are a testament to the "if you build it, they will come" philosophy. They’re coming out in droves.
So let’s talk about the menu:
Entrees included 100% vegan versions of Chicken & Waffles, Eggs Benedict, Sliders, Scrambles, Soup, Salad & Dessert. Roast Coach Coffee set up shop outside & offered vegan horchata & pour over coffee to the patiently waiting crowd, while Sea Rocket provided their full bar menu & $5 mimosas. Awww yeah! (See the full brunch menu here).
Here’s a visual offering of what was enjoyed at our table of hungry folks…
"Tofu Scramble Sausage Stack" - Worcestershire Seasoned Sausage Patty, Savory Saute of Tofu, Onions, Bell Peppers, Celery & Cilantro
"Chick’n & Waffles" - Cinnamon Spiced Pecan Waffles, Country Fried Chicken, Herbed Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy
"Vegan Eggs Benedict" - Seasoned Spinach, Toasted English Muffin, Smoked Canadian Style Bacon, Marinated Portobello, Shiitake Encrusted Tofu Benedict, Hollandaise, Balsamic Roasted Asparagus, Fruit Salad
The two stars of the show at our table were the decadent “Chicken & Waffles” & the indulgent "Eggs Benedict." For someone who’s never had the non-vegan version of either dish, I cannot quite speak to their “authenticity,” but in my humbly plant-based opinion everything was damn tasty. It was a difficult decision, given the plethora of vegan offerings, but I settled on the benedict, & it was the perfect choice. I enjoyed the marriage of flavors & textures between the creamy hollandaise, savory bacon, seasoned tofu & toasted english muffin. I absolutely loved the bed of seasoned sauteed spinach, as it added a nice touch of freshness to an otherwise indulgent dish. Each layered bite was a mix of creamy, savory, seasoned goodness. Another win was the roasted asparagus! I love asparagus, I love roasted vegetables, hence, I love roasted asparagus. ‘Nuff said. I also had a few bites of the chicken & waffles & oh, my oh my..hello southern style vegan brunch! The crispy fried chicken was reminiscent of a Gardein Chick’n breast & super tasty, with an insanely crispy fried coating. Vegan KFC, on a much better level! The waffles were golden, fluffy & delightful. I made sure to get a full bite of everything on the plate - chicken, waffle, mashed taters & gravy. Wow. Hangover cure to the rescue…had I been hungover, fortunately by Sunday morning Friday’s aftermath was long behind me!
True Kitchen Creatives - truly well done! You’ve definitely hit the ground running with this event & I hope to see more from you! Like another vegan brunch STAT! And thanks to Sea Rocket Bistro for being such gracious hosts of these vegan restaurant takeovers!
Yes. I am a LOVELIKEBEER groupie. What can I say? Their concept is best thing going on in San Diego’s vegan world right now, so why wouldn’t I be? Well, LOVELIKEBEER is at it again with their artful vegan food & beer pairing dishes, & lucky for us, this one is here to stay.
That’s right! The lovely vegan dish above, created by the very talented Chef Tommy Fraioli in conjunction with Kory & Derek of LOVELIKEBEER, is now part of Sea Rocket Bistro’s nightly menu!
Last Thursday evening I attended the “Menu Series” launch party & LOVELIKEBEER's 1 year anniversary celebration, & had the opportunity to try the first dish of their new concept - in which they intend to bring “permanent” vegan dinner & beer pairings to several more restaurant menus across San Diego.
Joined by my favorite vegan power couple, Andi & Kevin, we arrived early, hoping to beat an expected crowd. We got a seat by the window to ensure adequate lighting for photos. To start, we ordered up one of my favorite tapas from Sea Rocket’s menu…
Green Olives with Chipotle Pepper, Olive Oil & Herb Marinade
I love olives so it goes without saying that this is a go-to appetizer for me, but what really makes this pop is the sauce that smothers them! Andi & Kev loved it so much that they requested a to-go container for the sauce that remained, but when the waitress offered to bring out a few pieces of Sadie Rose grilled bread, we quickly sopped it up, forgoing the cup after all. Next up, the main event…
Spicy Kimchee BBQ Seitan with roasted sweet corn, green beans, house-made kimchee, kimchee BBQ sauce, & citrus wedge
While I’ll admit that in the past seitan has not been my favorite “mock meat,” it is slowly but surely growing on me & this dish certainly put another point in seitan’s favor. I think the key factor for me is a thinly sliced & well seasoned piece. Since seitan is made mostly of vital wheat gluten, if not prepared right it can taste just like that - a chewy tasteless glutenous mass. When prepared well, it can take on a wonderful flavor & texture. Which is what you’ll experience in this dish. The thinly sliced “wheat meat” was marinated in the kimchee BBQ sauce, allowing it to absorb all the spicy goodness. Then it was lightly grilled, giving it a tenderness & smoky-sweet flavor. So good.
So good, in fact, that Kevin requested seconds. Yep! One more order of Spicy Kimchee BBQ Seitan…coming right up! I was more than tempted to steal a few bites from his plate, but I was saving room for dessert.
Green Flash Hop Head Red. LLB Tasting Notes: The floral & bitter hop notes of this aggressive red ale are accentuated by the bold, spicy & sweet kimchee BBQ sauce. The carmel, malt base of the beer provides a balance which allows all of the complex intensity of the flavors to shine.
This beer was a bit too bold & bitter for my taste upon first sip, but I found it mellowed as I consumed with food. Again, as I am still learning the ropes of understanding beer & food pairings, I had to rely on LOVELIKEBEER's tasting notes (read above) to get the gist of what I was supposed to be experiencing. In fact, I so dazzled by the dish that I really wasn't paying much attention to the beer. Oh yeah…sip of beer, bite of food, sip of beer. I try to get it, I really do, but sometimes I just don't. I loved the dish, I enjoyed the beer more paired with the dish, but I didn't love the beer by itself. As much as I've loved getting acquainted with craft beer via LOVELIKEBEER events, I’m just not a beer chick. As much as it might impress the craft beer dudes, I just can’t pretend to be someone that I’m not. While I can appreciate a mild blonde ale, or a refreshing saison, I am really more suited for crisp white wine, classic cocktail, or my ultimate favorite: champagne with a splash St. Germain. That’s just me.
And, here is something else that’s me: dessert!
Vegan Chocolate Stout Cake with Raspberry Sorbet, Macadamia Praline & Berry Jam
It goes without saying that I have an insatiable sweet tooth. And I am sure I don’t have to tell the vegans out there how hard it usually is to get a REAL vegan dessert at a non- vegan restaurant. As I’ve said before, as much as I love fresh fruit (for breakfast), a bowl of it for dessert is less than satisfactory. But then there is this little chocolate stout cake that just happens to be vegan, & totally awesome, & is ALWAYS on Sea Rocket’s menu. Thank you. I often forget that they have it, & now that I’ve been reminded you just might find me here nightly in my PJs with a glass of champagne & this lovely chocolate treat. Typically, the cake is served with coconut sorbetto, but they were out & substituted the raspberry in it’s place. While I prefer the coconut, the raspberry was a great second choice, as it gave the rich cake a nice tangy contrast. The suggested pairing here was the Green Flash Double Stout. Anyone who knows baking knows that bold coffee flavors will enhance the richness of chocolate. Not only does this porter have hints of roasted coffee, it has hints of dark chocolate as well, making it a beautiful pairing, & one that I actually “get,” even if just a little.
So there you have it. From appetizer to dessert, a complete vegan meal that you can get anytime! And, every time you order the LOVELIKEBEER dinner pairing, 10% of the proceeds will benefit Seeds at City Urban Farm, a San Diego City College program that "empowers young urban farmers & cultivates hope while training students in sustainable agriculture in the heart of the city."
Stay tuned for this…
***Oh & did you read my little “retrospective” of their first year of events? If not, you can do so here.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since Kory Stetina & Derek Humbard, the dashing duo behind LOVELIKEBEER, took the San Diego craft beer & vegan dining scene by storm with their highly successful vegan beer pairing events. For those of you who are reading about them for the first time, allow me to introduce you:
LOVELIKEBEER is an organization dedicated to creating inspiring Vegan Food & Craft Beer events in San Diego with a charitable purpose. We work with local artisans & entrepreneurs to host culinary events which incorporate innovative, vegan cuisine, craft beer pairings, & a donation to a local charity.
I’ve been a faithful supporter ever since attending their inaugural event in May 2011 & have followed them every step of the way - promoting, recapping, & raving about each “vegan beer night” here on Vegenista. What initially drew me to their events was not the beer, but the food. I consider myself a “healthy foodie” & with quality vegan dining establishments lacking here in San Diego, I was so excited when I first laid my eyes on a LOVELIKEBEER pairing menu. Dream come true. I’ve eaten my way through many a veg-friendly city - Portland, SF, LA, NYC, etc., & what they were presenting was a line-up of incredible artisan quality vegan food, & unlike I’d ever seen before on a menu in this city. It was as if the vegan dining scene was finally arriving, & in the wake of LOVELIKEBEER, it continues to grow & evolve. As their events have evolved, I’ve evolved too. I wouldn’t yet call myself a ”craft beer enthusiast,” but I’ve certainly become more "craft beer curious," & am starting to develop a bit of a palate & preference for a thoughtfully crafted brew.
Last summer, I met up with the pair to do my very first “interview” for Vegenista & to get the scoop behind what LOVELIKEBEER was all about. If you haven’t yet read it, you can find our interview, "The Pairing of Passion & Purpose," here on the blog, or in Issue One of Chickpea Magazine. I think you’ll find their enthusiasm for "craft beer, vegan food, & giving back" very inspiring.
In honor of their first anniversary & upcoming celebration, I wanted to take us all on a trip down LOVELIKEBEER memory lane, & share some of my favorite photos, food, & memories. I also sat down with them again, over vegan beer & vittles of course, to talk about their favorite moments, lessons learned, & what exciting things we can expect from them in the future.
Oh, the inaugural event! I arrived not knowing what to expect & left a true fan & supporter of LOVELIKEBEER’s mission. The food was awesome. While I enjoyed every single morsel of each dish I tried, my favorite dish of the night was the “Herb Pressed Tofu with English Peas, Smoked Tempeh, Truffle Vinaigrette,” (pictured bottom right) paired with Stone Brewing Co.’s Ruination IPA. I loved the clever play on “scallops,” & enjoyed the unique texture of the tofu. The flavor combination of smoked tempeh, sweet peas & the bright truffle vinaigrette brought the entire dish together. I also enjoyed the beer pairing, which was meant to bring out the IPA’s tropical notes. As a craft beer novice, I now get excited when I see that beer on a menu, as it is something I recognize & know I will enjoy. And those tofu “scallops” go down in history as one of my favorite dishes of all time. Seriously. Read my full review here.
This was my favorite event, thus far - awesome, location, great company, & amazing food with the most beautiful artisan presentation. My favorite beer of the night was definitely ABC’s Coffee Coconut Wheat Beer. I found that it paired so beautifully with the first course, a "Local Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with Smoked Eggplant & Zucchini Capponata, Fried Squash Blossom" (pictured top right). I have a warm place in my heart for chilled gazpacho on a summer evening, add a fried squash blossom & you’ve taken my heart completely. But, I must say, the hit of the night for everyone at my table was the "Grilled Achiote Marinated Tofu with Suzie’s Farm Hungarian Pepper Stuffed with Chino Corn Risotto, Crow’s Pass Farm Potatoes, & Chimichurri Sauce" (pictured bottom left). It was superb. As pleasing to the palate as it was gorgeous to the eye. The flavor & texture of the tofu was perfection, as was the sweet corn risotto, & the zesty chimichurri added an intense depth of flavor. This was a tofu dish done right! Read my full review here.
The “Pub Grub” event! Who can say no to pub grub? When it’s vegan grub, you know I can’t. What was most surprising thing for to me was that Hamilton’s Tavern had a veg-friendly menu, & a separate cooking compartment for their veg items. Holla! My lady-friends & I decided to make this a girl’s night out & we had a good time! My favorite sandwich of the night - "Irish Witchfire with Grilled Onions, Jalapenos, Pepperoncinis, Roasted Anaheim Chilis, Lettuce, Tomato & Salsa Roja atop a Potato Patty & served on Ciabatta" (pictured top right). So deliciously awesome! Not as “hot” as I’d expected, but I love hot stuff & have an extremely high tolerance for spicy foods. It’s still on the menu, so be careful, it might be hotter than you think! Read my full recap here.
This was a really cool event as it marked the return to Sea Rocket Bistro, the site of their awesome inaugural event, & was the first vegan beer event to be organized in conjunction with San Diego Beer Week. My two favorite dishes of the night? The lovely “Pear Salad with Belgian Endive Chipotle Cinnamon Walnut, Aged Cashew Cheese, Clove Agave Nectar, & Port Gastrique” (pictured top right), & the “Coffee-Malted Chocolate Cake with Ganache, Beer-Macerated Cherries, & Curry Gastrique”(bottom photo). The salad was fresh & fragrant, & the cashew cheese was delightful. As for the dessert, it can be so hard to get vegan dessert right, yet this is the second time Sea Rocket delivered. Read more about this awesome event here.
The first year of LOVELIKEBEER wrapped up with a decedent dessert themed event on dreaded Valentine’s Day. If you know me, you know I love dessert. What is life without a bit of indulgence? As, I said before, vegan desserts tend to be lacking - "Oh, here’s a fruit plate" won’t cut it for me, dude. I need chocolate. Which was why I delighted in the “Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie with Caramel Sauce & Salted Peanut Brittle” (top photo) paired with Hangar 24 Chocolate Porter. Who doesn’t love the combination of peanut butter & chocolate, every one’s favorite perfect pairing, right? Hello Valentine Lover! This was mind-blowing - rich, creamy, decadent, sinful, deliciousness. This was really when I started to appreciate a porter, as this decadent beer brought out even more of the brownie’s chocolatey goodness. Triple match made in heaven chocolate, peanut butter, porter. Yes! You can read more about it here.
Ok, so enough about me. Let’s turn it over to Kory & Derek, the masterminds, to get their inside scoop.
Vegenista: What were some of your most memorable moments from LOVELIKEBEER’s first year of vegan pairing events?
Kory: While I knew we didn’t necessarily want this to be a “vegan club,” & we would have people that were not vegan/vegetarian coming to the events, I had no idea the amount of people that aren’t either would make up in terms of the percentage, & I had no idea how much the beer community would totally embrace it. At our first event we had arranged beer from Lost Abbey, Stone, Green Flash, & Ale Smith’s Speedway Stout, some of our favorite beers, & we were kind of starstruck in this weird way. It wasn’t necessarily a huge feat, we did not have to do much to get that line up of beers, yet we felt like we had kind of struck gold.
Derek: Going into the first event, we weren’t sure if 5 people or 50 would show up, but we had a really good turn out. When we were getting ready for the 2nd event, I remember being a little worried a few minutes from opening, thinking was this a one time thing? Will people show up to the 2nd event? But when we opened there were 50 people in line to get in. There ended up being close to 400 people at that event. That really solidified that there is a demand for this type of event & it was really exciting to have this happening in San Diego.
V: What were some of your most memorable food & beer moments?
K: I don’t have a single favorite pairing, but I have a favorite pairing from each event. Definitely the “Herb Pressed Tofu Scallop” from the first event. From the second event, my favorite moment was making the Automatic Coffee Coconut Wheat beer with Lee Chase & pairing it with the "Yellow Tomato Gazpacho." At the Hamilton’s event, definitely the “Buffalo Tempeh Wings,” as we were hell bent on getting a vegan “wing” in San Diego! I really liked the "Terra Bella Farms Pear Salad" at Assembly because it had that aged cashew cheese, that started to take on a sharp cheddar quality that I thought was really neat. At Love Affair, I liked the "Almond Brown Sugar Glazed Doughnuts" paired with the St. Louis Framboise, because it kind of turned into a fun little jelly doughnut experience.
D: For me, what was the most memorable beer was the special keg that Stone Brewing Co. made for our first event - the Stone Ruination IPA: Double Dry Hopped with Citra on cask. They agreed to make this special cask for us & we were really excited about it. To have the first sip of that first beer while we were setting up & getting ready for our first event made it all real - were actually doing this.
V: Any surprises or lessons learned along the way?
D: It was a nice surprise that every chef that we’ve worked with was really excited about the opportunity. The restaurants we partnered with are all vegan friendly spots, but tend to be a bit more on the non-vegan side. It was really fun to see the chefs embrace this challenge & to let their creativity get out of control with some of these dished & the result was really good. I think every chef we worked with had some version of the same statement: I wanna make a great dish, not a great dish that is vegan, but just a great dish overall.
K: One of the cool lessons along the way is that we’ve actually learned, not just how to do the events, but also how to participate in the food & beer pairings themselves. I don’t know if we anticipated on that happening. Originally the LOVELIKEBEER concept was just organizing the venue, but over time we wanted to challenge ourselves to actually try to create some of the pairings. Assembly was one of the first times we sat down with the chef & tasted beers & shared ideas. What we also learned was that it was fun to give each event its own character. Whereas the first couple were titled “Vegan Beer Night,” with an eclectic mix of food styles & beers, after doing the Hamilton’s “To-Firkin Friday” event with some amazing pub-grub (playing off of their standing “Firkin Friday” concept), we learned we really liked giving each night its own theme with the food, adding decor, & turning it into a true pop-up environment that has its own character for that night & that night only.
V: With a year of successful events under your belts, what can we expect to see from LOVELIKEBEER in the future?
D: Our next event will be at Local Habit in August & will be “Vegan Creole” themed. We are really excited to be doing this with Local Habit next because they reached out to us before their restaurant was even open & asked if we wanted to do an event there. After Local Habit, we’ve committed to doing at least one more event toward the end of the year. We’ve been very inspired by the LA Vegan Beer & Food Fest & other exciting things that people are doing. We would love to eventually do a true pop-up kitchen - bringing in some celebrity chefs, guest chefs either from San Diego or beyond, & taking over a warehouse or venue that is currently closed. We are hoping that the last event of the year will be a more dramatic departure than what we’ve done - whether it’s multiple chefs, a pop up restaurant competition, a multi day pop-up biergarten. Another long term goal is to do something outside of San Diego at some point too, when the “recipe” is right.
V: You are about to launch your new concept called "Menu Series" Can you tell us a bit more about it?
K: The whole idea of "Menu Series" is taking the event concept & spreading it across multiple locations with a single dish at each spot, all having a different charity & carrying forth our mission - eventually giving us a fun little map of spots around the city. So, if you follow us & appreciate what were doing, you can know at all times what dishes are around where. Each dish will be indefinitely on the menu. Our goal is that this dish will become that restaurant’s vegan option. Over time, we hope to have a handful of restaurants that have our vegan option on their menu, & you will be able to go to a map on our website that shows where you can find a LOVELIKEBEER stamped pairing. The idea is to give our fans - whether they’re vegan, vegetarian or neither - a spot where they can enjoy our concept between events, or if they missed they event they still have the opportunity to try some of the pairings.
So there you have it. Congrats to LOVELIKEBEER for a year of incredible events! I am excited to see what this year has in store for our growing vegan community. You know I’ll be following every step of the way, & I’ll be sharing it here. If you live in San Diego & haven’t yet made it out to a LOVELIKEBEER event, you have no excuses. It’s a must! If you don’t live in San Diego, now it’s even more worthwhile to make a trip out here.