Events recap: Caputo’s and Finca

Caputo’s First Chocoloate festival

A truly stellar lineup of chef’s came out to work their magic at Caputo’s first annual fine chocolate festival (October 25th). Italian chocolate maestros, Amedei, provided the inspirational ingredient and Libation LLC were on hand to dispense a range of chocolate friendly alcoholic beverages.

Despite the burgeoning local interest in fine chocolate, I think the turnout for the event took everyone involved by surprise. The Caputo Deli space was standing room only, shoulder to shoulder. With well over 200 folks in attendance, the event was a sell out.

That overwhelming demand resulted in throngs of chocolate lovers and understandably caused a few complications in the logistics of the evening. The opportunity to really get to grips with the various pairings and talk with the chefs and producers was difficult. Nonetheless, those that hung in for the full evening sampled a range of fantastic treats, from the traditional truffle produced by Chocolot through to the evenings solitary savory dish – Viet Pham’s Berkshire Pork Lardo and Speck creation!

Beverage wise, Slide Ridge Honey’s Cacysir Honey Wine was a complete revelation. It should be on everyone’s holiday shopping list, rich port-like flavors with slight spice notes, seriously delicious.

Now the huge demand for such an event is clear, I’m sure next iteration of the event will bring even greater successes. A full list of the chefs, dishes and pairings are as follows:

Lya Luna, Caputo’s Market
Amedei Chuao Kouing Amann + Blackout Cake with Toscano Red

Ruth Ruth Atkinson Kendrick, Chocolot
Chuao Palet d’Or (gorgeous ganache!) with Toscano Black 70% Shell

Viet Pham, Forage
Berkshire Pork Lardo, Amedei “9″ 75% Truffle with Caputo’s House Speck, Buckwheat, & Marjoram

Letty Flatt, Deer Valley Resort
Trio of Hot Chocolates – Amedei White w/ Toasted Barley & Chicory, Amedei Toscano Brown with Chai Spices, Amedei 70% Toscano Black

Matthew Harris, Heirloom Restaurant Group
Deconstructed Mole Truffles – Toscano Black 70% Truffles with Chiccharon, Dusted with Sesame & Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Powdered Chiccharon, Ancho Chile

Romina Rasmussen, Les Madeleines Patisserie
Chuao Verrine – Layers of Chuao chocolate cake, mousse, and other godly goodness

Amber Billingsley, Vinto Pizzeria
Assorted Gelati – Banana, Walnut & Toscano Brown Milk + Hazelnut with Toscano Nut Brown + Amedei “9″ Dark Chocolate Chip + High West Whiskey Gelato with “9″ 75% Chips

Pairings

Epic Brewing Company
Big Bad Baptist, Pumpkin Ale, Fermentation without Representation

suggested by Libation, LLC
Alvear Sherry
Bucklin Old Hill Zinfandel
Chiarli Lambrusco

Slide Ridge Honey
Slide Ridge Honey Wine Cacysir

amedei chocolate amedei chocolate 2

caputos amedei kouing aman chocolot truffles

matt caputo and viet pham amedei with pork viet pham

amedei mole truffles amedei hot chocolate

Disclosure: I was an invited guest of Caputo’s for this event.

Finca Beer Dinner

As previous beverage director at Squatters Pub Brewery, Finca (and Pago) owner Scott Evans knows a thing or three about brewing. That coupled with the ever expanding local brewing scene, had to mean only one thing – Finca’s first beer pairing dinner, certainly a nice change of pace from the more common wine dinners. I had the opportunity to attend the dinner on Thursday the 15th of November, and report back.

First up, I’m a huge fan of Finca. My review of Finca for the SL Tribune, should get you up to speed on the essentials. In 2012 so far, its definitely in my top three restaurants.

The evening began with an intro from Scott followed by tapas style courses. Each of the five courses came with a suitable beer pairing (skewing smaller with the high alcohol points in mind) and a tasting primer on the brew from the respectively brewing company representative. Frequent diners will know the restaurant can be a loud space, and as the beer flowed the volume went up in equal measures. Speakers moved about the space, to detail the brews to smaller groups, and the evening proved to be a fantastic success.

After the meal, a visibly pleased Scott explained how he aims to repeat the approach of the dinner in the future with more uncommon pairing options, such as sherry. Stay tuned!

Personally, food pick of the night was the luscious fabada, a hearty Spanish bean stew featuring tender pork shoulder. Tipple wise, I loved Epic’s Double Skull Doppelbock, packing a whopping 9.1% punch into a deceptively smooth brew, perfect for sipping on these long, cold dark nights. See below for a full menu and pictures.

Course one
Squatters: Hell’s Keep, Golden Strong Ale
Ensalada de Bruselas: Brussels leaves, dried cherry, hazelnut, mahon, honey sherry dressing
Coles de Bruselas: Brussels sprouts, bacon, sherry cream

Course two
Epic: Double Skull, Doppelbock
Tosta Setas: Mushrooms, grilled bread, ricotta, pine nuts

Course three
Red Rock: Reve, Belgian Style Trippel
Fabada: Smoked pork shoulder, white bean, lamb belly, house chorizo, breadcrumbs
Papas y Aioli: Potatoes, paprika, garlic aioli

Couse four
Moab: Scotch Ale, Wee Heavy
Jamon con Datil: Serrano ham, dates, local honey
Cordero de Asador: Lamb belly, cider-braised apple, pumpkin

Course five
Uinta: Cockeyed Cooper, Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine
Crema Catalana: Catalan style custard, Bourbon caramel

(click for full sized images)

finca brussel sprout salad finca brussel sprouts in cream and bacon

finca tostas setas finca papas

finca lamb soup finca jamon

finca lamb belly finca custard

Disclosure: I was an invited gust of the restaurant for this event.

About Stuart Melling

My high school English teacher once told me I was the most arrogant young man she had ever met. Food criticism seemed like a natural leap. Stuart is largely fueled by Uinta Cuthhroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words he doesn't understand. Stuart is also a member of the Association of Food Journalists.

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