Like everything at Stone Brewery, their quarterly Fresh Dinner event is absolutely epic. Just like their bistro, the catalyst for this event was Stone’s dedication to local, organic foods, and the Slow Food movement. The dinner consisted of a six course meal plus an intermezzo and appetizer prepared by executive chef, Alex Carballo, and his staff.
Cucumber, Bell Pepper and Onion Salad; Freshly Baked Rolls
A great way to start any dinner, this light salad was tossed with olive oil pressed fresh that day which was delicious, rich and earthy. The fresh olive oil was a re-occurring ingredient throughout the meal and paired well with the rolls.
Ginger Roasted Winter Squash Soup
Served in a snifter and one of my favorites of the night with just the right touch of ginger. I just wish there was more of it to go around.
Arrogant Bastard Ale Battered “Fanny Bay” Oysters with a Mussel and Clam Seafood Vinaigrette
Anything fried is without a doubt heavenly, and this dish was no exception. Add to that the near perfect, light and flaky beer batter and you have a course that was hard to beat. Luckily for all in attendance, this was easily blown out of the water by the dishes to follow.
Intermezzo: Beet and Apple Juice
An off-menu intermezzo, the combination beet and apple juice shooter was quite tasty (even to someone who doesn’t like beets!) and cleared the palette at just the right time.
Spiny Lobster Tamale with Roasted Poblano Sauce
- Local lobster supplied by Pacific Shellfish, caught off the coast of La Jolla
- Poblanos from Dragon Organics
- Masa and corn husks from Esperanza’s Tortilleria
Chef Carballo substituted lard for freshly made butter to produce the best use of lobster ever I’ve ever enjoyed. The poblano sauce, which was mixed with other chilies, was delicious with a great roasted taste, but the tamale was moist and savory enough to stand on its own.
Herbed Crepes Stuffed with Mushrooms, Fresh Ricotta and Topped with Charred Tomato Compote
- Eggs from Eben-Haezer Poultry Ranch
- Herbs from Dragon Organics and Stone Bistro Gardens
- Mushrooms from Mountain Meadow Mushrooms
- Ricotta made in-house from fresh milk from De Jong’s Dairy
- Tomatoes from Connelly Gardens
What can I say about these? Served in tandem with the tamales, these hearty crepes were simply excellent. Like the whole of the meal, the compote was simple and unassuming, but showed the strengths of sticking to the basics and letting the natural flavors of the food speak for themselves.
Arugula and Persimmon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Arugula from La Milpa Organica
- Persimmons from Crows Pass Farm
- Lemons from Vivian Blackstone
- Olive Oil from Temecula Olive Oil Company
Unfortunately, there has to be a least favorite and this course was it for me. Even though the persimmons were beautiful, it’s my personal preference that arugula doesn’t stand well on its own, and that it goes better when mixed with other greens. Others, of course, disagreed and ate it all up.
Two Lemon Tart with Candied Lemon Zest and Pomegranate
- Eggs and pomegranates from Eben-Haezer Poultry Ranch
- Lemons from Vivian Blackstone (Meyer and Lisbon??)
I love strong lemon flavors (sometimes eating them as one would an apple or orange) so I’m routinely disappointed by desserts that feature lemon but turn up weak in flavor. But by this point in the meal, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. The candied zest, which I’ve never seen before, was both novel and addictive, and this dessert finished the night with a bang and great flavor.
Tomatoes are, by far, my favorite vegetable, so it made it hard to deny the herbed crepes the honor, but my favorite course of the night was, hands down, the spiny lobster tamales with roasted poblano sauce. I was sad to force myself not to eat anymore of these so that I could save room for dessert. Thankfully, dessert was far from disappointment.
Without a doubt, the night was a great success and worth the hour drive to get to the brewery. If you think good food has celebrity value, then this event was absolutely star-studded. I can’t wait till tickets for the winter event are available.
Tags: arrogant bastard, arugula, beet, bell pepper, Carlsbad Aquafarms, clam, compote, Connelly Gardens, crepes, Crows Pass Farm, Cucumber, De Jong's Dairy, Dragon Organics, Eben-Haezer Poultry Ranch, eggs, Esperanza's Tortilleria, Fresh Dinner, ginger, La Milpa Organica, lemon, lobster, masa, Mountain Meadow Mushrooms, mussel, onion, organic, oysters, Pacific Shellfish, persimmions, poblano, pomegranate, ricotta, slow food, squash, stone brewery, tamale, Temecula Olive Oil Company, tomato, Vivian Blackstone