The night in food: Lagunitas beer dinner

March 16, 2012

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Beer dinner hosts, take note. The Blackbird Café hit it out of the park. This was without a doubt the best beer dinner I’ve been to. I don’t think it really matters that it was Lagunitas (though, Sean, Tony, Karen, your wonderful beer obviously enhanced the experience). Blackbird was just amazing. I was a little hesitant to buy into the $65 cost and would be again because as you may know, I live paycheck to paycheck, but my faith had been established with a previous wonderful Lagunitas dinner and this time I was rewarded with something even better.

Brewery people who I know, this isn’t about your beer versus their beer. You know I love you all. This was about utterly fantastic vittles in a really interesting space that was comfortable to hang out in. I should have taken some pictures of Blackbird Café itself. But I immediately became focused on the food.

So here is the visual report. Chef Chris Stevens, so, so delicious. Everything.

 

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Meat & Greet / Pils

Yay, a pun worthy of the English to start the night. I didn’t take any of the olives or other vegetables that were available because, being a victim of my self-imposed Meatless March, I zeroed right in on the meat. THE MEAT. I enjoyed smoked salmon, beef tongue, and “pig-head balls.” Heh. The balls were the tastiest things of the night, even though in general, I try to avoid deep-fried things. 

Because of Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, I have become much more enthusiastic about trying “weird” stuff. But my mother often served tongue when I lived at home. I was excited to have some.

 

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Warm Dandelion Greens / Maximus

I harvest dandelion greens from the yard for my rabbit when they’re in season, and every time I do that I think that I should just throw some into my own salad, too. But I never do, so I was excited to have them served to me by a fancy restaurant chef. They’re really bitter! But fortunately the bitterness was offset by a delightfully sweet poppyseed vinaigrette.

 

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Bonus Mini-Course: Watercress Soup with Creme Fresh

Served in a cute, tiny, espresso cup! It reminded me a lot of a spinach soup that I make. Other than the opening charcuterie, it might have been my favorite of the evening. Really good.

 

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Seared Ahi Tuna / IPA

One of the things that I’ve come to love in recent years is when non-beef meat is (un)cooked rare. I’ve always loved a bloody steak and raw hamburger (hey, I’ve lasted this long, don’t judge me). I’ve learned that other flesh varieties are also better when cooked less rather than more.

 

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More Bonus Mini-course: Celery Root Soufflé

I hate to say that both of the two unannounced mini-courses did their best to steal the show. So, so good. Who doesn’t love fluffy, puffy stuff?

 

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Duck Breast & Confit / Imperial Brown

With Brussels sprouts hash, parsnip puree, and crispy onions up top. I love Brussels sprouts, and one of my favorite side dishes is a “fake mashed potatoes” made from pureed cauliflower with butter and half-and-half. The whole course, again, sooo good.

 

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Bent River Camembert & Harissa Cashews

By this time, my tablemates were feeling a little full or didn’t like the cheese or didn’t like the nuts. I won. First, because I had been eating too much bread all the way along, I dipped my fork in the Camembert then stuck a cashew on the end. Delicious. Perfect. Then I braved a couple more slices of the bread.

 

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Burnt Caramel Pudding / Imperial Red

Gingerbread crumble + cardamom cream and shredded ginger on top, in a jelly jar that matches the beer’s Mason jar? GET OUT! I absolutely would not have needed to polish off this delicious dessert. I wasn’t allowed to take the jelly jar home, but I did take the Mason glass home. Now I have two!

 

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Sean, those were some good stories you told. And I understand why you go to the Blackbird every month — they’re amazing!

 

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One Response to “The night in food: Lagunitas beer dinner”

  1. Tori Says:

    That looks and sounds amazing!


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