Baja California

Baja Artesanal: Funes Craft Brewery tasting

Sommelier Claudia Horta also treated us to a food paring session

We were also fortunate that Mr. Funes was seated beside us during the pairing, so the talked was all about the beer and everyone's passion for it. Other patrons were anxiously waiting for the first dish while they were talking about what they just heard. The over the table conversations were as interesting as the lecture about tasting from moments before, with everybody contemplating the brewing process and even thinking about taking it up as a hobby for themselves.

Maridaje por parte de Claudia Horta
Maridaje por parte de Claudia Horta

The pairing dinner began with a guava marmalade bruschetta, perfumed with laurels, and a bit of jamón serrano (Spanish dry-cured ham) and carrot peels, a dish that Claudia Horta commented as having chosen it because of the fruity aroma and light bitterness of the Oriental beer, its paired brew. More than canceling each other out, both the beer and the bruschetta's sweet taste went well together. An excellent start.

Guava marmalade bruschetta, perfumed with laurels, and a bit of <em>jamón serrano</em> served with Cerveza Oriental from Funes
Guava marmalade bruschetta, perfumed with laurels, and a bit of jamón serrano served with Cerveza Oriental from Funes

The Blanca beer was served together with clam ceviche with green apple served in the in its shell, an orange foam and rice cake strips. The beer's citric style gave the already great ceviche an even better taste. This was one of the dishes that most cought my attention since they used classic elements of Baja cuisine that are currently taking the world by storm, usually paired with Guadalupe Valley wines, although, Claudia Horta matched them perfectly with beer, showing off her sommelier talents with craft-beer.

clam ceviche with green apple served in the in its shell, an orange foam and rice cake strips served with Cerveza Blanca from funes.
clam ceviche with green apple served in the in its shell, an orange foam and rice cake strips served with Cerveza Blanca from funes.

When they told us that the next course would be a mole dish, we didn't know what to expect. Mole is always a risky thing, because either it's done right and exquisite, or you quickly grow tired after a spoonful; although, it sounded logical to serve it with a Porter style beer.

We were wrong to doubt the mole, and perhaps even the mole made us doubt ourselves. We were greatly surprised to taste a delicious pork that was so juicy it practically broke apart at the slightest touch of the fork, while the mole was perfect and strangely but deliciously mixed with cucus, which complemented the beer. Usually, the Californian style Porter has a touch of chocolate or coffee, but the Porter Ale from Funes has a more traditional European style, keeping those flavors at bay, making its pairing with mole simply perfect.

Pork loin with mole and cuscus served with a Cerveza Porter Ale from Funes
Pork loin with mole and cuscus served with a Cerveza Porter Ale from Funes

But the mole and pork weren't the best parts. The absolute best was dessert, a white "brownie" with an IPA reduction and a a vanilla cream, served together with an English IPA from Funes. Words fail to describe the dish, which together with the Funes IPA, were the perfect ending to the pairing. The IPA that Funes has is also a traditional style one, where the hop doesn't saturate the other flavors, a common practice in Californian beers, which is why it went really well with this type of dessert, something I can't wait to try again.

White "brownie" with an IPA reduction and a a vanilla cream, served together with an English IPA from Funes
White "brownie" with an IPA reduction and a a vanilla cream, served together with an English IPA from Funes

We were offered a beer from Funes's private reserve, so to say, at the end of the pairing's courses. It had a low alcohol level and a strong malty taste, making it a good way to end the night. Congratulations to Funes and Baja Artesanal, specially to Claudia Horta for the magnificent job in selecting the food and their excellent care. Baja Artesanal carries out a beer tasting once a month, so check out their Facebook page for more information.

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jorge.guevara@sandiegored.com

jose.sanchez@sandiegored.com

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