This past Wednesday night, I was invited by Sarah from Midwood Smokehouse (shouts to Sarah!) to a beer dinner featuring some California-inspired dishes which incorporated smoke in various ways paired with four beers from Rough Draft Brewing Company out of San Diego. I hadn’t previously had the pleasure of trying any beers from Rough Draft and the courses for this dinner were different from the usual barbecue beer dinner fare, so this would be a night of new experiences for me. Here’s the highlights:
Appetizers: Rock Shrimp Tostada, Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos, Jalapeno-Jack Cornbread paired with Weekday Session IPA
Now this was a great start to the dinner. My first bite of the evening was a good one – the crunch of the freshly fried corn tostada contrasted well with the acidity of the rock shrimp and ceviche. I had two of these. The bacon-wrapped jalapeno is a normal offering on the menu but this version featured a “queso Chihuahua”. Lastly, the cornbread topped with pulled pork and pico was good but ranked third in my passed app hierarchy (patent pending). The Weekday Session IPA was a smart move to not come out of the gate too hot.
First Course: San Diego Pier Taco paired with Grapefruit Weekday IPA
A southern California classic – the fish taco. The grouper was fried in a beer batter made with the Grapefruit Weekday IPA mixed with ground corn into a maseca but was still light enough for a first course. The Grapefruit Weekday IPA is made from the same recipe as the session IPA but as the name implies, is infused with grapefruit. This tied in nicely with the grapefruit-avocado crema that topped the taco and the smoke in the dish came from the smoked tomato salsa. I could have had at least 2 more of these, but thankfully they didn’t allow that because I would have been too full for…
Second Course: Ancho Rubbed Tri-tip paired with Hop Therapy Double IPA
My first taste of tri-tip. I don’t know this preparation compares to classic Santa Maria tri-tip (Midwood smoked over hickory as they do with all meats), but I do know that I really liked it and in particular the ancho rub. Midwood Smokehouse has previously featured it as a Barbecue Month special in years past and if its on the menu next May I may have to make a special trip out. As good as the tri-tip was, the sweet potato tamale was every bit its equal. Made from sweet potatoes from a Barbee Farms out of Concord, the use of sweet potato in a classic tamale presentation blew my mind. This course paired with the Hop Therapy Double IPA which was a more malt-forward double clocking in at 9%. Thankfully, they weren’t serving more than about a half pour because this guy was dangerously drinkable and I could see it sneaking up on me.
Third Course: Key Lime Rye Cake paired with Sea State Blackberry Rye Ale
FS Food Group (the restaurant group owned by Frank Scibelli that owns Midwood Smokehouse among other concepts) recently hired a full-time pastry chef and while I unfortunately can’t recall her name, this rye cake with smoked blackberry sauce was her topper to the dinner. It paired nicely with the Sea State Blackberry Rye Ale.