Jul 19, 2013

El Palico does it again!

I've gotten very fond of this place!
A month or so ago, I wrote about a beer dinner at El Palacio in Chandler, featuring the beers of Breckenridge Brewery. The dinner, in a word, was awesome. The food was great, the beer was wonderful, and the hosts were everything you would want in a beer dinner. It left me wanting more quite honestly, a lot more.
Well, you could have imagined my excitement when I got a press release, announcing yet another beer dinner at El Palacio. This time, featuring the beers of Arizona's own Mudshark Brewing Company. I immediately RSVP'ed! Why wouldn't I? I wanted in!
Well, the dinner was last night,  and we were treated to another amazing display of culinary prowess by Chef Anthony, and a great array of beers presented by Mudshark! My friend Brandon was there to tell give us a little history of Mudshark (did you know, they started as a pizza joint?) and give a little preview of what to expect. Myself, as I am sure I can speak for everyone else there, were not disappointed! Lets have a look at what we were presented with....

Course One - 7 Layer Salsa with Up River Lager
 First off, let me say, this was a HUGE portion! From the start, I knew if I was going to get in all 5 courses, I wasn't going to finish this one, but after taking the first bite, I was regretting that decision! The salsa consisted of salsa fresco, salsa picante, beans, creme, guacamole, and queso and rice. It was awesome! I made sure to dig down to ensure I got a taste of all the layers. My favorite was the bottom layer of queso and rice (I just love cheese!). Digging through all layers of this beast was totally enjoyable, it almost drowned out the light Up River Lager it was paired with. A fine "river" beer as Brandon called it (same as what I refer to often on here as "pool" beer). I could see myself sitting poolside (or floating down the river) with a six pack of Up River and huge plate of this 7 layer salsa!

Course Two- Summer Salad with Scorpion Amber Ale
A fresh salad of petite greens, with heirloom tomatoes and Oaxaca cheese with strawberry habanero dressing, this course gave us our first kick of the evening. At first bite, the salad was almost sweet, and very tasty, but as a few seconds passed after putting this in your mouth, a little fire kicked in, and left  a warm, toasty goodness in your mouth, prompting you to take a sip of Scorpion Amber to douse the flames a little. It  wasn't firey hot, but it was enough to leave a little tingly, that the beer did a great job of sort of neutralizing in a wonderful way.

OK, this dinner is getting good!

Course Three - Steamed Mahi Mahi taco with Desert Magic IPA
OK, I will say upfront, this taco was of the hook! The fish was steamed in Desert Magic IPA, and served in a hard shell tortilla (not your normal fish taco). I will tell you, that the moment this dish was brought out to the table, there was a collective almost gasp of delight at the presentation of this dish! The taco's were served in a dented Mudshark beer can! I've always said, 70% of eating you do with your eyes, and in this case, Chef Anthony knocked it out of the park. Simple, yet creative, fun, and relevant to the dinner, my respect for him went up a few notches with this one. Again, it helps that the taco was great, and Desert Magic is just a solid beer, that went well along side this exciting dish!

Course Four- Mexican Kabob with Desert Moon Belgian White Ale
OK, the amount of food we got at this dinner was ridiculous. I remember telling someone sitting near me when this course came out "there is no way I am eating all this" and if you've ever seen me, I don't appear to be a guy that sends a lot of food back to the kitchen! The seasoning on this kabob was amazing, a salty, sweetness, that tasted wondful, that paired amazing with their Belgian white ale ( full disclosure, Full Moon is my favorite Mudshark beer). I always tell people, Belgian white ales are great beers to have with food, because they go so well with so many different foods. Specifically, the shrimp on the kabob (there was steak, chicken and shrimp) paired amazing with this citrusy beer. This course left me VERY full, but still wishing there was 4 more courses! Sadly, there was only one.

Course Five - Raspberry Flan with Mudsberry Raspberry Wheat Ale
OK, again, presentation is half of culinary arts in my opinion. Put a beautiful plate in front of someone, and they are far more likely to find the dish at least favorable. Well, let me just say, this plate, it was a work of art. I remember saying to the woman next to me "this plate is gorgeous!" she made mention of not wanting to eat it, it was so pretty! Arranged with the flan, was homemade whipped cream, berries, and eatable flowers, it was just SO colorful! The flavors were amazing as well. The flan was near perfect, and washed down with the Mudsberry beer, well, this was an epic conclusion to a great dinner!

Let me just say, if you've never been to El Palacio, you need to get there. The food is just awesome, and its family friendly! Chef Anthony is great, friendly, and a wonderful, talented chef. Get there! 

To wrap, this dinner was great! I believe I was told there were 45 people there, and all the folks I saw, and the ones I spoke to, seemed to be enjoying themselves, and experiencing something new. A beer dinner is a great way to learn a little more about beer, if you are someone that is just getting into craft beer, and its a great way for some of you self proclaimed "beer snobs" to reconnect with a breweries core line up, and discover how good a flagship beer can be! The food was awesome, the beer was great, and the company was enjoyable, is there a better way to spend a Wednesday night? If you find one, let me know.

I want to thank Brandon, from Mudshark for presenting some great beers to all us, and to Chef Anthony, for another killer dinner, you out did yourself! ( I can't wait for the next one! please tell me there is going to be a next one!!). I also want to thank Landon, Jennifer and the rest of the fine folks at HDE Agency for making all this happen, please continue to do what you do, and thank you for allowing me to be a part of it (and for the photos Jen!).

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar  

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