I recently attended my second official Culinary Underground event, this time hosted at Bottle Logic Brewing Co. in Anaheim Ca to celebrate their release of their new limited stout named Fundamental Observation. The beer release is a special vanilla stout that was aged in bourbon barrels for almost a year, and coming in at 14.3% ABV it was not a hot as you would expect. As I type this, they sold out of their allotment of bottles at the tasting room, and it’s well deserved because this beer is fantastic.
Chef Andrea Machuca of the Culinary Underground, has yet again surpassed my expectations and knocks it out of the park with this beer dinner at Bottle Logic. As I arrived, Bottle Logic’s staff is being directed and chefs are prepping their stations, and everything seemed to be so well organized and prepared it was impressive. There was a bar area set-up and it featured the list of the pairings and the first drink was a beer cocktail (that consisted of juices with hits of coffee and mixed with beer) to be sipped along side the cheese appetizers guests could sample while dinner was being prepared. It almost was like “battle stations” and everyone had their smiling game faces on, ready to win the beer dinner war.
Once everyone arrived, Steve Napolitano of Bottle Logic addressed the group and announced all the bartenders and chefs, and also described the Fundamental Observation beer that was brewed in partnership with Eureka! Burgers. After that, everyone attacked the cheese and lined-up for their beer cocktail. The bartenders skillfully pumped-out cocktail after cocktail, with generous portions, and you didn’t have to wait long to enjoy your special beverage. The cocktail hit you in the face with citrus from the pinch and rub of the peel, and the cocktail itself was complex but the resounding comment was it faintly reminded of a raspberry tootsie pop. This “aperitif” consisted of: blackberry and blueberry shrub, cacao rum bitters, Coffee Lupulus IPA and garnished with lemon peel. It went very well with the rich and buttery cheeses, and before I knew it – the first course was being prepared.
1st Course: Foie Gras Terrine – Paired with Pog Juice. Foie gras terrine, pineapple reduction, cara cara orange, guava berliner weiss gelee, and macadamia granola crumble. I know foie gras can be scary for some, but I got over most of my food fears some time ago, and mostly try anything once without hesitation. After snapping some pics, I dived into this pettie dish with gusto and was in awe of all the complexity of flavors that was going on. It was rich, smooth, salty, sweet, crunchy, fruity, and it didn’t seems to end. I am a huge lover of salt flakes and loved the addition of that to the terrine. The citrus on the plate wasn’t bitter and added that lightness to the fatty terrine, and while the terrine was rich, it wasn’t greasy in any way. It seemed to almost disappear with the flick of my utensil as if it was never there. The Pog Juice was the perfect pairing, as it was light and fruity, and helped cleanse the pallet after each bite.
2nd Course: Intermezzo Fennel Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream – Paired with Joule Thief that was flavored with lavender and vanilla. Fennel ice cream, candied kumquat, fava bean, puffed rice, fennel pollen, lavender tea au jus, and red sorrel. The main treat was getting to be a part of the experience of the chefs preparing this dish with the liquid nitrogen, and producing a cloud of white that enveloped the cooking area with mystery and intrigue. Actually, it was pretty hilarious to see my friend, Andrea get sprayed in the face with nitro as she was making it because I caught it on camera. Don’t worry, it’s funny because she wasn’t hurt. The dish was a welcome cool down on this very warm evening, and the not-sweet ice cream served as a great segue to the next dish. I did love the little treasures of texture from the fava beans and puffed rice and kumquat. It was a well received dish and the beer was perfect with it. I generally get worried about beers or food with lavender, but they seemed to manage the overpowering flavor very well.
3rd Course: Short Ribs – Paired with Lagerithum. Grass fed short ribs, fundamental observation demi glace, flor de calabasa, cascabel emulsion, charred onion, micro greens, and hominy puree. Many of the people I talked to about the food would rave to me about this short rib. It fell off the bone and was so damn tender. Each person received a very generous portion of short rib, and all the accents on the plate was outstanding. The hominy puree was spicy but not overly so, and it lended just that kick needed to cut the sweet and rich demi glace. This is the kind of dish that people think about, dream about and gush about to everyone that will listen. Not only was it stunning to look at, it was so well constructed I can rightfully say…it was perfect. I have no improvements I would make. The pairing was yet again very good, as I loved they decided not to fight with the short rib and lent a helping hand with lagerithum instead.
4th Course: Goat Milk Cheesecake – Paired with Fundamental Observation. Lilikoi goat milk cheesecake, mango cremeux, coconut powder, and raspberries and eve’s orange flowers. Finally we got to have the fundamental beer, and it was paired with a light and sweet dessert. The cheesecake wasn’t that tart, and it went really well with everything else on the plate. I couldn’t really taste much coconut in the powder, but that might just be due to the overwhelming flavors from the beer. I still very much enjoyed the dessert, but the winner was the beer in this pairing. It was somehow so drinkable and smooth, without being too thick or getting any alcohol burn coming back from the initial first sips. I continued to muse all the complexities as I continued to sip, and all to fast the beer was gone and I was left wanting more. The vanilla must be the main reason for the drinkability, because while there was a terrific vanilla quality it wasn’t fake or forced – the true sign of expensive-ass genuine vanilla beans. I shudder to think of the cash they dropped on those brown pods of magic, but that feeling fades as it was surely worth every penny.
As the dinner concluded, the crowd lined-up for the first chance to purchase some FO bottles to take home and many of us lazily chatted about our lives, beer, and 4th of July plans. Eventually the crowd dispersed and it was time to go, and it seemed there was a general feeling of not wanting to leave as it was one of the best times I’ve had at a beer event. It was controlled, well-executed, there was a steady supply of food, water, beer, and everyone acted like adults doing adulty things. I seriously can’t wait for the next one. Cheers to Bottle Logic for killing it with their beers (especially FO) and a bow to Chef Andrea whose grace and humility are why people want to work for her and with her as she continues to blaze the trail for all things beer & food.