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Allan Peterson 8:30 a.m., June 15
The first time I heard the name Schuyler Schultz, was when I took a meeting in late 2009 at The Lost Abbey in San Marcos. The staff there was going on and on about a fantastic beer dinner they’d experienced in Las Vegas and discussing it in drool-inspiring detail. They were excited because the man who put that meal together, a young chef by the aforementioned moniker, was making the move from Sin City to America’s Finest. Intrigued by the dishes and pairings I’d heard about, I reached out to Schultz and have kept an eye on him.
Since coming to San Diego, he’s continued creating good food, both as the chef at La Mesa’s The Vine Cottage and as a consulting culinarians for Miramar’s AleSmith Brewing Company. Like the guys at The Lost Abbey, Peter Zien, AleSmith’s owner and brewmaster, was taken by Schultz’s ability to pair beer with creative gourmet fare at a beer dinner held at the chef’s Las Vegas digs that Schultz calls “life changing.”
Some of the combos from that meal included grilled oysters with cilantro-orange compound butter paired with AleSmith Horny Devil Belgian-style Ale; braised pork belly with pearl barley, caramelized onion, micro amaranth and celery greens with AleSmith Anvil ESB; and English toffee pudding cake paired with 2007 barrel-aged AleSmith Speedway Stout. The recipe for that last one as well as Schultz’s logic behind these and the three other pairings for that meal and a slew of others, are ripe for the picking in Schultz’s recently released book, Beer, Food, and Flavor: A Guide to Tasting, Pairing, and the Culture of Craft Beer.
Schultz has graduated from wower of brewers to author after getting his labor of love published late last year. Beer, Food, and Flavor is features some dynamite recipes, but it is not a cookbook. It’s much more, a hardbound guide to everything from pairing and cooking with beer to the comprehensive basics on tasting beer and appreciating the process, America’s standout craft breweries, and the craft beer subculture as a whole.
Few books have taken on the subject of beer and food in such a complete manner, and even fewer have done so in as dignified manner as Beer, Food, and Flavor. There’s no bar humor, puns, cartoony artwork—not even inclusion of the famous, ubiquitous quote, “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”—just pure, hard, accurate information.
It’s an educational reference text better suited for a desk and study than a fluffy coffee-table book perused through twice then forgotten on a shelf. It’s for serious readers who want to examine all that beer and food can be. Best of all, it’s told from a chef’s perspective, one that’s borderline fascinating for the layman to be let in on. I highly recommend it for anybody who is serious about learning more, and as much as possible in one shot, about making the most of beer and food.
Beer geek and homebrewer bonus—Schultz got Zien to not only write the book’s foreword, but also throw in photocopied pages from his brewing notes outlining the impressive recipe for his imperial stout. That’s a lot of artisanship for one book, and it’s a book worth both checking out and referencing often.
Beer, Food, and Flavor: A Guide to Tasting, Pairing, and the Culture of Craft Beer is available online at amazon.com (though they’ve been having some trouble keeping it in stock) as well as at Adams Avenue Books, Whole Foods La Jolla and the AleSmith tasting room.