Yes. I am a LOVELIKEBEER groupie. What can I say? Their concept is best thing going on in San Diego’s vegan world right now, so why wouldn’t I be? Well, LOVELIKEBEER is at it again with their artful vegan food & beer pairing dishes, & lucky for us, this one is here to stay.
That’s right! The lovely vegan dish above, created by the very talented Chef Tommy Fraioli in conjunction with Kory & Derek of LOVELIKEBEER, is now part of Sea Rocket Bistro’s nightly menu!
Last Thursday evening I attended the “Menu Series” launch party & LOVELIKEBEER‘s 1 year anniversary celebration, & had the opportunity to try the first dish of their new concept – in which they intend to bring “permanent” vegan dinner & beer pairings to several more restaurant menus across San Diego.
Joined by my favorite vegan power couple, Andi & Kevin, we arrived early, hoping to beat an expected crowd. We got a seat by the window to ensure adequate lighting for photos. To start, we ordered up one of my favorite tapas from Sea Rocket’s menu…
I love olives so it goes without saying that this is a go-to appetizer for me, but what really makes this pop is the sauce that smothers them! Andi & Kev loved it so much that they requested a to-go container for the sauce that remained, but when the waitress offered to bring out a few pieces of Sadie Rose grilled bread, we quickly sopped it up, forgoing the cup after all. Next up, the main event…
While I’ll admit that in the past seitan has not been my favorite “mock meat,” it is slowly but surely growing on me & this dish certainly put another point in seitan’s favor. I think the key factor for me is a thinly sliced & well seasoned piece. Since seitan is made mostly of vital wheat gluten, if not prepared right it can taste just like that – a chewy tasteless glutenous mass. When prepared well, it can take on a wonderful flavor & texture. Which is what you’ll experience in this dish. The thinly sliced “wheat meat” was marinated in the kimchee BBQ sauce, allowing it to absorb all the spicy goodness. Then it was lightly grilled, giving it a tenderness & smoky-sweet flavor. So good.
So good, in fact, that Kevin requested seconds. Yep! One more order of Spicy Kimchee BBQ Seitan…coming right up! I was more than tempted to steal a few bites from his plate, but I was saving room for dessert.
LLB Tasting Notes: The floral & bitter hop notes of this aggressive red ale are accentuated by the bold, spicy & sweet kimchee BBQ sauce. The carmel, malt base of the beer provides a balance which allows all of the complex intensity of the flavors to shine.
This beer was a bit too bold & bitter for my taste upon first sip, but I found it mellowed as I consumed with food. Again, as I am still learning the ropes of understanding beer & food pairings, I had to rely on LOVELIKEBEER‘s tasting notes (read above) to get the gist of what I was supposed to be experiencing. In fact, I so dazzled by the dish that I really wasn’t paying much attention to the beer. Oh yeah…sip of beer, bite of food, sip of beer. I try to get it, I really do, but sometimes I just don’t. I loved the dish, I enjoyed the beer more paired with the dish, but I didn’t love the beer by itself. As much as I’ve loved getting acquainted with craft beer via LOVELIKEBEER events, I’m just not a beer chick. As much as it might impress the craft beer dudes, I just can’t pretend to be someone that I’m not. While I can appreciate a mild blonde ale, or a refreshing saison, I am really more suited for crisp white wine, classic cocktail, or my ultimate favorite: champagne with a splash St. Germain. That’s just me.
And, here is something else that’s me: dessert!
It goes without saying that I have an insatiable sweet tooth. And I am sure I don’t have to tell the vegans out there how hard it usually is to get a REAL vegan dessert at a non- vegan restaurant. As I’ve said before, as much as I love fresh fruit (for breakfast), a bowl of it for dessert is less than satisfactory. But then there is this little chocolate stout cake that just happens to be vegan, & totally awesome, & is ALWAYS on Sea Rocket’s menu. Thank you. I often forget that they have it, & now that I’ve been reminded you just might find me here nightly in my PJs with a glass of champagne & this lovely chocolate treat. Typically, the cake is served with coconut sorbetto, but they were out & substituted the raspberry in it’s place. While I prefer the coconut, the raspberry was a great second choice, as it gave the rich cake a nice tangy contrast. The suggested pairing here was the Green Flash Double Stout. Anyone who knows baking knows that bold coffee flavors will enhance the richness of chocolate. Not only does this porter have hints of roasted coffee, it has hints of dark chocolate as well, making it a beautiful pairing, & one that I actually “get,” even if just a little.
So there you have it. From appetizer to dessert, a complete vegan meal that you can get anytime! And, every time you order the LOVELIKEBEER dinner pairing, 10% of the proceeds will benefit Seeds at City Urban Farm, a San Diego City College program that “empowers young urban farmers & cultivates hope while training students in sustainable agriculture in the heart of the city.”
Stay tuned for this…
***Oh & did you read my little “retrospective” of their first year of events? If not, you can do so here.