Showing posts with label Food and Beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food and Beer. Show all posts

Barn Diva, Catelli's, Russian River Brewing Co in Healdsburg

No matter how many times I visit Healdsburg there's one thing that always stands out:  great food, and lots of it.

First stop, Barn Diva for a fantastic lunch of salad, fries and quiche.  Of course the salad wasn't just any salad, it was chock full of avocado, blue cheese, beets, shaved carrots and crunchy croutons married with a creamy tarragon dressing.  Add a side of fries - which are really more of a cross between a chip and a fry - to go with the rich quiche and you are ready to hit the winery trail.

The quiche at Barn Diva, Healdsburg
Our one and only winery visit this trip was Schlumberger (an old favorite) where reservations are recommended and a seat beside the lovely, relaxing fountain in the courtyard a must.  We took this opportunity to listen to the hypnotic symphony of water trickling and wine glasses clinking in the warm, embracing late-season sun.
After a check-in at the hotel and a power nap we headed out to the Russian River Brewing Co in Santa Rosa.  I'll admit, beer isn't my first love but the sampler seemed necesssary. We tried all the samples with mixed reviews:  I liked the sour versions (Supplication, Temptation and Consecration) and my companion liked the Redemption or the blondes (what a surprise.)

All that wine and beer tasting created quite the appetite so we headed to Catelli's in Geyserville.  Featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (or Triple D) you SHOULD  believe the hype: amazing 12-layer lasagna , homemade ravioli (in two sauces) are just a few of the dishes to die for.  Oh, and the bread which feels like a course on it's own.  Hint:  if you order the lasagna it arrives with two large pieces of very garlicky, buttery bread. 

The best of all worlds: meat ravioli with butter sauce and cheese ravioli paired with the spicy tomato.  Heaven!
Once the plates arrived I asked my dinner companion if he wanted a taste of my ravioli (which of course he did.)  Asked the same question about his lasagne I hesitated oh-so-briefly to which I was told "take some now before it's gone".  Although a nano-second to me, the lasagne quickly disappeared and I made a mental note to visit Healdsburg - and Catelli's again soon.   

Beer and food pairings - Half Moon Bay Brewery

Half Moon Bay Brewery
390 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay CA 94019

A friend and I met the chef of the Half Moon Bay Brewery at a party and requested a tour of the kitchen. Although I have worked in a restaurant kitchen in a previous life the thought of hearing about life as a chef and seeing his playground seemed too good to be true. On a sunny Saturday we drove to the Half Moon Bay Brewery (CA) to meet Mark Hamilton (Executive Chef) and see the nuts and bolts of the operation.

Mark started our tour with a view into his world which was quite different than expected. He was perched behind a computer screen monitoring daily reports consisting of inventory lists which drive food orders and ultimately help ensure a smooth - and cost efficient - system from start to finish. Mark monitors everything including the weather because "it can have a dramatic impact on how much - or little - we need to staff for the day." It was surprising to see a restaurant kitchen run as a business but seems smart given the state of the economy and it's recent toll on restaurants.

After our short tour of the kitchen itself we moved on to the brewery. There we could see big vats for brewing the beer, a label-making machine and bags of malt stacked and awaiting production. It was surprising to see so many varieties of malt from all over the world and even more so to taste each one. Although each consisted of the base essence of malt there was a slightly different flavor - depending upon the country of origination - which would translate to the many beers made on the premises.

As we sat down to lunch and a beer sampler, we had the opportunity to pair each with the different food items before us. I admit I've never really considered beer in the context of food or desserts but the flavors which surfaced as a result of the pairings have given me new respect - and interest - in beer overall.

A few examples:

• Bootlegger's Brown Ale and sliders or the spicy shrimp.
• Sandy Beach hefeweizen with it's beautiful brown hue and sweet taste pairs well with an ahi starter or fried calamari. Surprise! It's also great with the mango cheesecake!
• Mavericks Amber Ale and burgers.
• Pilar Point pale ale is earthy, hoppy and grassy and marries with earthy flavors like those found in mushrooms.
• The stout or porter pairs well with...chocolate!

A little online searching reflects a decent amount of interest and information on the topic of beer and food pairings. Examples include:

• Milder meats like pork or chicken often pair well with beers displaying a malt accent, like a malty lager.
• Red meats go with richer, fruity ales.
• Spicy foods work with a clean, delicate lager (Singha).
• Barbequed meats marry with craft-brewed stouts and porters.

In the end, as with wine, you should always drink what you like best. But if you feel adventurous, consider a beer pairing to add some spice to your culinary palate.

Many thanks to Mark, Gaston and staff at the Brewery / Maverick's Lodge for the tour and a delicious lunch!