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Appetizer Plate: Mixed Warmed Almonds & Olives, Patas Bravas, Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Aioli, & Grilled Eggplant in Tomato Vinaigrette Warm Almonds & Mixed Olives Grilled Eggplant in Tomato Vinaigrette Crispy Potatoes Quinoa Paella
Natilla Spanish Custard with Citru, Vanilla, Cinnamon & Strawberries

Spanish Vegan Cooking Class

Well, hey there! I’ve been meaning to recap this Spanish themed vegan cooking class for quite sometime, but I’ve just been swamped! A few weekends ago, my Mom & I attended another awesome vegan cooking class with Chef Jenn at Sea Rocket Bistro. People always question, “a VEGAN cooking class at a SEAFOOD restaurant?” The answer is “yes.” Kinda kooky at first thought, I know, but this is vegan friendly joint - in addition to these seasonal vegan cooking classes, they hosted the first ever LOVELIKEBEER event, launched the first dish in LLB’s permanent menu series, recently hosted an all vegan brunch, & always have a handful of vegan items on the menu. Needless to say, it’s a great place to take a mixed crowd, as there is something for everyone, & I appreciate that! 

Anyway, back to the class. This Spanish inspired all vegan menu was built around small plates served “tapas” style, a main course of Quinoa Paella, & a delicious Spanish style coconut custard! Yum. Here’s a bit more detail!

The Menu: 

  • Warm Almonds with Mixed Olives: "Assorted olives mixed with garlic, herbs, citrus, red pepper flakes, & olive oil, served with warm toasted almonds." These were wonderful! I could’ve eaten these all day! Perfect to snack on with a lovely cocktail, or glass of spanish rose. 
  • Grilled Eggplant in Tomato Vinaigrette: "Thick rounds of Japanese eggplant slightly grilled & topped with a "sauce" of  raw roma tomatoes, Spanish olive oil, sherry vinegar, green onions, capers, garlic, & basil.” This is such light & refreshing dish. This would be a perfect appetizer to serve at a summer soiree when eggplant is in its peak season.I love eggplant, but my mom has never been an eggplant fan, but this dish made her a believer!
  • Patatas Bravas"New potatoes roasted with fresh chives & parsley & topped with a Spanish style "brava" sauce of pureed tomatoes, onion, carrot, garlic, white wine, sherry vinegar, olive oil, Tabasco, agave, sweet pimenton, cumin, & fresh thyme.” The brava sauce was delicious - slightly sweet with a bit of heat! I wanted to put this sauce on everything from toasted bread, to roasted veggies. 
  • Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Aioli"Cauliflower florets simply roasted with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper, topped with a vegan take on aioli - a blend of pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, evoo, salt & pepper.” I think cauliflower gets a bum rap! To any of you who think it tastes like dirty gym socks, I dare you to roast it until it’s tender & caramelized! Simply delicious & even better with a creamy aioli!
  • Vegetable Quinoa Paella:Quinoa toasted & simmered in white wine, vegetable stock, & saffron, served with piquillo peppers, roma tomatoes, fresh peas, garbanzo beans, & thinly sliced fennel.” I loved this healthful twist on “traditional” paella, which utilizes protein rich quinoa in place of rice. My favorite NYE tradition is whipping up a pot of paella to serve with champagne, & will definitely be making this again. I enjoyed the combination of vegetables in this recipe, but you can substitute with whatever your little heart desires. And…who else cannot get enough of saffron? So rich & fragrant!
  • Natillas" Spanish Style Custard: ”Almond milk, coconut milk, & coconut cream infused with vanilla,cinnamon, lemon & lime zest, thickened with silken tofu & blended into a creamy pudding. Served chilled & topped with cinnamon & fresh strawberries.” Natillas is a Spanish term referring to a custard dish made with milk & eggs. Isn’t it wonderful that we can veganize almost anything these days. I’m obsessed with dessert, especially dessert that consists of coconut cream! This rich & creamy custard was a delightful end to our meal. I really love strawberries, & am so excited to see them arriving at the farmers’ markets, but this custard would be lovely top with any seasonal fruit variety!

I’ve been to almost all of Chef Jenn’s classes, & this was one of my favorites to date! If you are a San Diegan & haven’t attended a class yet I highly encourage you to join us. The classes are hands-on - so you learn A LOT. It’s also a great way to meet new friends. What better way to connect with others than cooking a meal together? The best part is, after all that prep & cooking, everyone sits communal style to enjoy the meal, paired with thoughtfully selected craft beer or wine. Oftentimes, we even make enough for leftovers to take home. Be sure to check Chef Jenn’s website for upcoming classes. I believe the next one will be scheduled for the spring. We’re hoping it’s for Easter brunch!

True Kitchen Creatives’ Vegan Sunday Brunch!

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! 

Come One, Come All to Vegan Sunday Brunch!
That’s right San Diego….Vegan Brunch is coming to town & I cannot wait! True Kitchen Creatives is collaborating with Sea Rocket Bistro to create a unique Sunday VEGAN brunch extravaganza! Come one, come all, to kick-off their first event!

THE DETAILS:
True Kitchen Creatives presents: "VEGAN SUNDAY BRUNCH at Sea Rocket Bistro"
Cups of caffeine & vegan Horchata by Roast Coach Coffee
November 4th, 2012
9am - 2pm
Sea Rocket Bistro North Park 3382 30th Street · San Diego, CA 92104
Open Menu · No Cover · Not a Prix Fixe

Official menu is yet to be announced, but I think it’s gonna be a play on “CHICKEN ‘N’ WAFFLES” : Cinnamon pecan waffles · Country fried “chicken” · Herbed mashed potatoes · Mushroom gravy. Vegan soul food style brunch? YES!
Click here for more details & to RSVP!

Come One, Come All to Vegan Sunday Brunch!

That’s right San Diego….Vegan Brunch is coming to town & I cannot wait! True Kitchen Creatives is collaborating with Sea Rocket Bistro to create a unique Sunday VEGAN brunch extravaganza! Come one, come all, to kick-off their first event!

THE DETAILS:

True Kitchen Creatives presents: "VEGAN SUNDAY BRUNCH at Sea Rocket Bistro"

  • Cups of caffeine & vegan Horchata by Roast Coach Coffee
  • November 4th, 2012
  • 9am - 2pm
  • Sea Rocket Bistro North Park 3382 30th Street · San Diego, CA 92104
  • Open Menu · No Cover · Not a Prix Fixe

Official menu is yet to be announced, but I think it’s gonna be a play on “CHICKEN ‘N’ WAFFLES” : Cinnamon pecan waffles · Country fried “chicken” · Herbed mashed potatoes · Mushroom gravy. Vegan soul food style brunch? YES!

Click here for more details & to RSVP!

LOVELIKEBEER’s “Menu Series” Launch

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 Farma 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…

Vegan Beer Night IV, “Les Bon Temps” August 9th, at Local Habit. As always, I will bring you the details when they become available, or sign up at lovelikebeer.com to receive direct updates. 

***Oh & did you read my little “retrospective” of their first year of events? If not, you can do so here.

Celebrating a Year of LOVELIKEBEER!

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: 

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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. 

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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. 

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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

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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.        

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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

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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

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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.

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Don’t forget to join LOVELIKEBEER at their "Menu Series Launch Party"  & Anniversary Celebration on June 14th at Sea Rocket Bistro!

Calabacitas Tostadas & Mexican Red Rice Mini Sweet Tamales

Vegan Mexican Pop-up Cooking Class

I had such a great time at yet another vegan cooking class with Chef Jenn Felmley at Sea Rocket Bistro yesterday. 

I’ve taken several classes with Chef Jenn & they keep getting better & better. The theme for yesterday’s class: Vegan Mexican. Yes! I love, love, love, Mexican food & it’s one of my favorite foods to veganize. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than drinking an ice cold craft beer while preparing a vegan Mexican feast with friends. 

Vegan Mexican Menu: 

  • Mexican Red Rice
  • Hand Mashed Pinto Beans
  • Salsa Fresca
  • Guacamole Sauce
  • Calabacitas Tostadas
  • Mini Sweet Tamales

Looks awesome, right? I just had one question - what is “calabacitas?” For those of you in the dark like I was, calabacitas is a traditional Southwestern dish of sautéed summer squash, corn, onions & peppers, & can be enjoyed either as a side or as a vegetarian filling for tacos, or in this case - tostadas! As local squash is abundant at the markets this time of year, this is the perfect recipe to learn as we move into the summer months. 

The participants broke up into groups separately preparing the tamales, beans & rice, & tostadas as separate teams. My Mom & I - “team Vegenista” - along with another lovely vegan gal, tackled the tostadas, which required a lot of prep - chopping veggies, sautéing veggies, & frying up tortillas. This is the kind of prep work I find relaxing, especially with an adult beverage in hand.  When all the components came together, we plated the food & got down to business - feasting!

As always, Chef Jenn facilitated a fantastic feast & I got to walk away with a whole bunch of new recipes to add to my inventory. Lucky for you, Chef Jenn is allowing me to share the tostada recipe. Please note that some of the tostada components were made as separate recipes in class, but I included some recommendations for substitutions. 

"Chef Jenn’s Calabacitas Tostadas"

Calabacitas

  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • 1 small zucchini, small diced
  • 1 small yellow squash 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded & small diced
  • 1 cup onion, small diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup roasted poblano pepper, peeled, sedded & small diced
  • 1/2 cup Daiya shredded cheese (we used the pepperjack shreds)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add squash mixture & lightly season with salt & pepper. Cook until the squash just begins to soften, about 5 minutes
  2. Stir in garlic, tomato, onion, corn, poblano pepper & 1/4 cup water. Cover, reduce heat to low, & simmer about 5 minutes (or until vegetables are tender).
  3. In a small bowl, combine almond milk & cornstarch; stir to dissolve.
  4. Increase heat to medium, remove lid & stir cornstarch & almond milk mixture into the sautéed veggies. Cook until the sauce begins to simmer & thicken. 
  5. Turn off the heat & add in both types of cheese. Add oregano & season to taste with salt & pepper. 
Tostada Shells
  •  6 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  1. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a heavy small skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Fry tortillas, 1 at a time, turning once or twice & pressing with tongs to immerse, until golden brown 45 to 60 seconds per tortilla. Drain briefly on paper towels. 
Tostada Fixings
  • 1 1/2 cup mashed pinto beans (recipe made in class, I would recommend Amy’s refried beans as a simple alternative) 
  • 1 cup avocado sauce (recipe made in class, use your favorite guacamole) 
  • 1/2 cups Salsa Fresca (recipe made in class, use store bought or your favorite recipe)
Garnishes
  • 1 cup cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup radishes, sliced
Spread tortillas with a layer of refried beans, top with Calabacitas & garnish with cabbage & radish slices. Serve with a dollop of guacamole & salsa fresca. 
I cannot wait to make calabacitas again for tostadas, taco, or burrito filling, & as we do Mexican food themed birthdays in my family, I am excited to have a new recipe to add to the mix! 
Chef Jenn teaches vegan classes at Sea Rocket every few months, & rumor has it the next class will be French themed (thanks to my Mom’s suggestion) in July, for Bastille Day. I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime check out Chef Jenn’s website for more info on upcoming classes. 
Sea Rocket Bistro Potatoes Mushrooms & herbs cooking Menu Luck of the Irish Pea Soup Vegan Shepherd's Pie Vegan Chocolate Pudding Prepping Carrots Chopped Chocolate Class in action

Saint Paddy’s Day Vegan Pop-up Cooking Class

A few nights ago my Mom & I attended a "Saint Patrick’s Day Pop-up Cooking Class" taught by Chef Jenn Felmley & hosted by Sea Rocket Bistro. What a blast! Her classes are always fantastic, but this has been my favorite  class to date. The class size was a bit more intimate than in classes past, so Chef Jenn was able to more readily answer questions & share tips & techniques. Oh & the menu she planned for us was awesome:

  • Luck of the Irish Pea Soup
  • Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Potato Topping
  • Whiskey Glazed Carrots
  • Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorite vegan comfort foods. I absolutely live for the version served at Stone World Bistro, & have always wanted to add a similar recipe to my repertoire. Thanks to Chef Jenn, I now have an awesome recipe in my hands, & so do you. She is graciously allowing me to share it here: 

"Chef Jenn’s Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Potato Topping"

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb yams, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, divided use 
  • ¼ to ½ cup vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône
  • 4+ 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided use
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms, trimmed & quartered
  • 2 sprigs thyme  
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • ½ lb zucchini, medium diced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 3/4 lb carrots (about 4 medium), cut into 3/4-inch-thick pieces & blanched
  • ½ lb green beans or yellow wax beans, cut into 1/4 inch rounds 
  • ½ cup tempeh, steamed & crumbled
  • 1 cup vegetable stock 
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water

Instructions: 

  1. Cover potatoes with cold water in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot, simmer until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain in a colander & rest for 8 minutes. Repeat with yams.
  2. Place 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil , ¼ cup vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon coconut milk into the bottom of a large bowl. Add potatoes & mash. Adding additional coconut oil as needed. Mash till smooth & season with salt and pepper. 
  3. For yams: place ½ Tbsp coconut oil, 2 Tbsp vegetable stock & 2 Tbsp coconut milk into the bottom of a large bowl. Add yams & mash. Adding additional coconut oil as needed. Mash till smooth & season with salt & pepper.
  4. Add red wine to a medium sauce pot, reduce to ½ cup; over medium heat.
  5. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, thyme & rosemary sprigs to the pan, lightly season with salt & pepper. Cook; stirring occasionally until they give off liquid & start to turn a rich golden brown (adding additional oil if needed). Remove pan from heat & add Cognac. Return pan to the heat & cook till liquid is evaporated. Remove mushrooms from the pan & set aside
  6. Add 1 Tbsp oil & heat over medium heat; zucchini, cook till just begins to soften & turns golden brown. Remove zucchini from the pan & set aside. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon oil (more if needed) & heat over medium heat; add onions. Cook stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic, carrots, green beans, & tempeh; cook till fragrant.
  8. Place all of the cooked vegetables in to a baking dish.
  9. Add vegetable stock to reduced wine & simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Whisk together corn starch & water, to remove any lumps. 
  11. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to stock & red wine, whisking constantly. Whisk & scrape (the bottom of the pan) with a rubber spatula; constantly until thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Pour thickened sauce over vegetables.
  12. Spoon mashed potatoes & yams (alternating to create stripes) over vegetables & spread evenly to cover. Cook until top is golden, about 15 minutes.
I loved the look of the alternating stripes of potatoes & also appreciated the mix of white potatoes & yams. It boosted the flavor & added additional nutrients. This dish is filling & comforting, yet packs a punch in the veggie department, so it’s much more healthful than a “traditional” recipe. While it’s a bit of a labor of love, the end result was worth it.                                                                                                                                                              
If you are San Diego based & enjoy cooking & eating vegan foods, I highly recommend you sign up for a future class. The next class theme is "Vegan Cinco De Mayo." YES! I will have all the details when the date & menu is set. Click here to learn more about Chef Jenn & see her full list of upcoming classes. 
Persillade Grilled Seitan New Winter Menu Jolly Pumpkin back on tap!

New Grilled Seitan Dish at Sea Rocket Bistro

Last night, P & I joined my good friends from LOVELIKEBEER & Anil from The Vegan Vagabonds at Sea Rocket Bistro for the Jolly Pumpkin Beer Finishing. They put the few remaining beers from the Assembly Event on tap & offered a brand new vegan entree from their winter menu to pair with these tasty brews. I was so excited to have another taste of Jolly Pumpkin’s Calabaza Blanca, a Belgian Biere Blanche spiced with orange peel & coriander. It’s "refreshingly tart, with a wonderfully dry finish." I’m usually more of a wine drinker, but this beer won me over & I couldn’t miss out.

We shared some blistered peppers, spicy marinated olives & roasted mixed local nuts before diving into the delicious new entree - ”Persillade Grilled Seitan with Cippolini Onion, Grape Jelly, Lima Beans, & Tobacco Soy Cream." Wow, what I treat. I am not normally a seitan kind of girl, but Chef Chad White has the preparation down. I loved the house made seitan sausage he prepared for Assembly, & I was curious if he could make be a believer. Sietan can be tricky to work with, yet he knows how to season it & get the texture just right. I didn’t feel like I was eating eating a big ball of gluten, like I have in the past. This was tender & flavorful. The cippolini onions & grape jelly gave the dish a mild sweetness, and there was a richness & kick from the tobacco soy cream. While this was not a house made seitan, he does plan to create his own in the future, & I look forward to when he does. He is a super talented chef & quite a visionary when it comes to creating a unique, but well balanced dish. 

While Sea Rocket is not vegan or vegetarian by any means, you can always count on there being at least one vegan entree, & two to three vegetarian entrees on the menu, as well as salads & sides made from fresh, local, organic ingredients. If you’re lucky, they just might even surprise you with a vegan desserts like last night’s "Chocolate Stout Cake with Coconut Cream Gelato." Amazing! 

Assembly Terra Bella Farms Pear Salad Pumpkin Gnocchi Smoked Seitan Sausage Coffee-Malted Chocolate Cake LOVELIKEBEER's Sea Rocket's Bar Poster designed by Josh Higgins

LOVELIKEBEER’s “Assembly” Vegan Beer Pairing Dinner

Last night I attended LOVELIKEBEER's highly anticipated 4th vegan beer dinner, "Assembly," featuring Jolly Pumpkin (vegan) Artisan Ales & benefiting Engineers Without Borders. This event was extra special for a number of reasons - it marked the return to Sea Rocket Bistro, the site of their awesome inaugural event back in May, this was the first vegan beer event to be organized in conjunction with San Diego Beer Week, & a very special limited edition poster was designed for the event by San Diego artist Josh Higgins, newly appointed creative director for the 2012 Obama campaign. 

Once again Chef Chad White outdid himself with 4-courses of unique, artisan-quality, vegan fare. He isn’t even close to being a “vegan” chef, but is always up for the “challenge” - willing & inspired by taking on the task on creating an all vegan menu, with no tofu in sight. Each dish were incredibly tasty & perfectly paired with a Jolly Pumpkin Ale.

First Course:

"Pear Salad with Belgian Endive Chipotle Cinnamon Walnut, Aged Cashew Cheese, Clove Agave Nectar, & Port Gastrique" paired with “Fuego Del Otono.” The salad was fresh & fragrant, & the cashew cheese was delightful. I really want to experiment with cashew cheese myself, as the flavor is wonderful. 

Second Course:

Next came a comforting dish "Pumkpin Gnocchi with Cured Black Olive Puree, Fennel Confit, & Nutmeg-Roasted Peptias" paired with ”La Percela.” Unfortunately the pepitas never made it to my plate, & while I didn’t quite “get” the combination of the gnocchi & the olives together, I enjoyed them separately.

Third Course:

The third course was a “Smoked Seitan Sausage with Spiced Apple Chai Tea, Saurkraut, Crostini & Mustard” paired with "Bam Biere." This was surprisingly one of the highlights of my night. Surprising because I am not a huge fan of seitan, but I loved the preparation here, & having nothing to compare it to in terms of a meat-based sausage (thank you, Mom, for raising me vegetarian & never making me eat “real” sausage). I thought this take on “sausage” was tender, flavorful, & delicious.

Dessert Course:

The dessert course of "Coffee-Malted Chocolate Cake with Ganache, Beer-Macerated Cherries, & Curry Gastric"  paired with "Bam Noire" was an obvious win. As with the chocolate cake served at the first event, this cake was perfection. A bit crusty on the outside (in a good way), while warm & moist (but not gooey) on the inside. We wanted more. The portions were not substantial, our only complaint, but after speaking with Kory of LLB, we understood that the beer investment for this event, was higher than in past events & the portions were lighter to balance out the cost, a compromise we were willing to accept in the end. 

This was certainly one of LOVELIKEBEER's best events to date, & I got the inside scoop on events yet to come, but I can’t spill the beans just yet! As always, you won’t want to miss it, so sing up for their newsletter here, or check back with me for details as they become available.