The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 37 of 102

march 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  35 See, I love beer. I've even been known to eat it for dinner. With such a wide variety of brews available to us these days, beer can be like the everlasting gobstopper of the foodie world, ranging from light and satisfying appetizers to bold rich main courses and ending with a decadent dessert. As I sit down with the three owners of The Spoon Trade—Jacob Town, Brooke Town and Patrick Bergseid—in Grover Beach, just south of San Luis Obispo, California, Brooke grabs a bottle of Krieky Bones, a foeder- aged Flanders Red ale with sour Montmorency cherries from Firestone Brewing's Barrelworks, located in nearby Buellton. It pours a ruby red with just a hint of brown to remind you that the wild cherries danced with French oak for two years, mere miles from where we are sitting. Like shar- ing a bottle of rosé and appetizers, the fizzing sour ale was both an apertif and an appetizer until the chef slipped away to the kitchen with promises of more to come. Spoon Trade sports a complete menu that begs you to enjoy European- style dining without constraints of time or pressure; we enjoy great drink, good company and a relaxing vibe. I'm interested in how this restaurant— dominating fine dining in a town known as the gateway to the dunes—can incorporate the fertile farmland of California's Central Coastal with the bounty of local breweries. With some reluctance that we can't eat everything on the menu, our nosh begins with a simple yet satisfying house-made popcorn. I'm never one to pass up a salty treat while imbibing. Chef Jacob, who shows up daily before dawn to make fresh sourdough for their bread service, explains that, staying true to their organic and quality-driven menu, these kernels are sourced from an organic farm in North Carolina, giving them a meaty, almost earthy, texture. As we finish the lightly seasoned popcorn, we start getting excited for what's next. The bubbles popping on our tongue and the saltiness of the popcorn melt the day away as an array of plates are soon set down in front of us, in addition to two more local beers. Nothing could go better with beer than the smoked fingerling potatoes with house-made lime aioli and deviled eggs with Dijon mustard. A Mason jar filled to the brim with Silva Brewing's Paso Pale Ale appears, the tart lime marrying perfectly with the tropical fruit aromas of this hoppy beer brewed by the famous Chuck Silva, recently of Green Flash Brewing in San Diego and now manning his own eponymous brewery in Paso Robles wine country. The ale provides a welcome bite to the rich and creamy deviled eggs, a sudsy counterpart to these two appetizers. One would be remiss to leave The Spoon Trade without trying their signature appetizer. Honoring the nearby town of Santa Maria and its famously seasoned subpri- mal sirloin cut, tri-tip tartare with tonnato sauce shows how well they can adapt their menu to local ingredients while bringing together the land and the sea in a city that does both very well. It was only fitting that this was paired with San Luis Obispo's Libertine Brewing's Saison, a wild ale that's made utilizing koelschips to embrace the terroir of the area. These Belgian open-top fermentation tanks ensure that the wild yeast and bacteria floating through the air are captured in the cooling wort before being subjected to secondary fermentation in barrels for months (or years) until released into the open top of my Mason jar. The acidity and brightness of the Saison cuts through the rich fattiness of the meat and creamy spread while complementing the savory seasonings of the steak. Truly a match made in heaven—and isn't that what the Central Coast of California is all about? With the most fertile earth in the world, we not only grow fruits and vegetables on these lands, but cultivate flavors. Complementing nearly every beer, washing away the viscous cream of a deviled egg is one of life's more surprising pleasures. Chef Jacob changes the recipe weekly based on seasonal farmer's market offerings. An uncommon flourish on a local classic, tri-tip tartare with Santa Maria BBQ seasoning is elevated with the addition of an umami- rich tonnato sauce. Pair with a tart beer like Libertine Brewing's Wild Saison to cut through its unctuousness.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - March 2017