This was one of those meals where you initially think, “$100? I don’t know…” but afterwards you’re saying, “$100?! I can’t believe how reasonable that was!” and your friends are pissed that you didn’t tell them about it, although you *tried to* but they weren’t listening. It’s good to be the early adopter.
I almost didn’t make it to this dinner, what with the film festival going on and worrying I’d need to rush downtown at a moment’s notice. And taking photos was a huge distraction to the meal, because it was near impossible to get photos at the table, and instead I had to walk inside the house before every course and that wasn’t so polite to my dining companion. So, going forward, if the photo can’t be taking in-situ, that is too bad. I would like to dine, thankyouverymuch.
But this time, you get photos. Let the Surf and Turf begin!
There was supposedly six courses to this dinner. Math: $16.66 per course, including the beer pairing, tax and tip. Which is really more like $12 if you look at it like ordering off a menu pre-tax and tip. That’s not bad, right? But wait! Some courses really had two courses within them. Which brought the price down per effective course. And it was a downright steal. And you know the drill – everything as locally sourced, organic, free-range, that’s how Pink rolls.
First: Irish soda bread – jameson apricot jam / pretzel knot
Both these items were prepared by Eileen Foster Randall Cook, the gal behind Bella Dolce Bakery. The soda bread was softer and sweeter than the soda bread I’ve had in the past, which was fine, because the bread I’ve had was pretty rustic and crumbly, sometimes a bit too firm without some good soup or stew to soften it with. The Jameson Whiskey apricot jam was just the right consistency, and went well with both the soda bread and the pretzel knot.
This was paired with the Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s Blonde. Great pairing. Note: I’m not a big beer person.
Second: Filet mignon – truffle – asian pear / Ridgeback shrimp – yuzu – radish
I started out at the table, taking photos, but gave up here and was resigned to go into the house for each new course. It was just too dark outside and I was spending way too much time moving candles around, poking people with elbows, and still not getting enough light. The filet was served like carpaccio, raw, rolled up with the asian pear and peppery greens, and truffle. The shrimp has more asian flavor with the yuzu and spicy radish. Both were just a couple mouthfuls of yumminess.
The beer pairing was Saison Dupont, from Belgium. The citrusy notes to this went well with the sharp pepper tang of the food.
Third: Oysters – cucumber carrot kimchi / Pork belly – bacon dashi – daikon
This is the round where we began to suspect we were bring treated to more than 6 true courses. The dishes came out separately. First, the oyster with cucumber carrot kimchi. Fresh, briny, tangy, sweet, spicy all in one. But then! A generous piece of pork belly, subtle smokey bacon dashi, and the pickle I liked most: a sweet tangy slice of daikon. The pork belly was my favorite dish of the night. I couldn’t finish all the pork belly and was able to take some of it home.
These was supposed to be paired with Oaked Arrogant Bastard, but the brew host accidentally counted the food as two courses and we got an additi0nal ale. That is okay! It all went remarkably well.
Fourth: Spiny lobster – 5 spice butter – potato / Rabbit – japanese dried persimmon – potato
This was one of those, “uh, are you kidding me,” courses that was ridiculous servings of food, and we’re only halfway through the meal. You really can’t go wrong with lobster and butter, but then to add the Chinese 5 Spice to the butter? Damn. Someone further down the table had a spontaneous orgasm, I swear. The rabbit that followed people enjoyed, but unfortunately it followed the lobster, and people were getting full. So most of us managed some bites and had to set the rabbit aside to ration their stomach space. I was one of them. It hurt to do that! But it also hurt to keep trying to eat and the portion was rather big.
Paired with SB Brew Co.’s India Pale Ale, and LA fin du monde, but I think the Pale Ale got moved to the pork belly dish, and we really got LA fin du monde and Criminally Bad Elf.
Fifth: Beef shortribs – rootbeer / Black cod – vanilla bean – tapioca
This was the most innovative part of the meal, imho. The beef shortribs were braised in rootbeer, that’s not too unexpected. But the tapioca with the black cod on the menu had people confused. It turned out great. I watched the course being assembled, with tapioca, then the beef, then the black cod which was breaded with something I never figured out, it was puffy outside, textured inside from the cod flaking lightly. Finally, a small handful of crisp potato chips garnished the plate. Pink said, pointing, “Fish…and chips.” By golly, you’re right.
Paired with Criminally Bad Elf and Monk’s Cafe Flonders Red, but I think we got the Flonders Red here. One dish = one beverage.
Sixth: Uni – caramel / chocolate – barley
I had to jet off to some film festival event, and took my dessert solo in the house, before everyone else. This was another course where Eileen Randall Foster Cook contributed her skills. She made the flourless chocolate torte with Japanese barley, which was a dense chocolate cake, almost brownie-like. Then drizzled with chocolate stout caramel. She also made the barley sugar crackle that topped Pink’s ice cream. Gulp. I had to go!
It was paired with SB Brew Co.’s Old Recollection and a Bourbon oaked barley wine. I had to skip the beverages for this course entirely due to me leaving early.
I attended this with my friend Jim, who was initially concerned that beer pairing rather than wine wouldn’t give him as much value as he wanted. As someone who can’t drink much alcohol, I went into this already assuming there would be a great focus on the food and I’d get my value from that, which suits me perfectly. And I sure did. Jim was also very very pleased, not only for the quality of the food, but the beer pairings were excellent, and it exposed us to some options we hadn’t previously experienced. All in all, a fantastic meal. Everyone came away happy. And it was such a beautiful night to be eating under the stars and fragrance orange trees. So Santa Barbara.
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