*Honest Blogger Found Here: Travel, events and post are sponsored by Negra Modelo. However, opinions are solely mine. Disclosure Policy HERE.*
Calling all chefs, home chefs and restauranteurs…if you were asked to concoct a menu recipe using Negra Modelo beer, what would you create? Would it be smoky pulled pork tacos like Chef Rick Bayless made? Or, how about a black bean and ham hock soup like Chef Tom Douglas whipped up? This question got attendee’s minds creatively spinning during last week’s Negra Chef Challenge at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle, WA. Chef Thierry Rautureau emceed the event, which lead to much banter and laughter in each discussion.
Within this gorgeous venue, the room was filled with lively music, scrumptious smells and glasses upon glasses of refreshing Negra Modelo. Local chefs and students along with bloggers from near and far were all there to learn from demonstrative techniques on how to incorporate beer into cooking, mainly Mexican style cooking. Along with the above mentioned recipes, we also got to sample: Ancho glazed wild salmon tacos w/toppings, Fresh corn and anaheim chili pancakes filled with cotija cheese, black bean soup topped with spicy crab salsa and local Hermiston watermelon sprinkled with toasted pepita and lime. Do you know how much this speaks directly to my heart? It was like my own little spot in Mexican heaven…complete with a Mariachi band of angels playing my favorite rendition of “Cha Cun Cha.” (Hashtag farfetched, but you feel my love, right?)
As far as techniques, the biggest tip I learned from Chef Bayless: Whenever your are cooking Mexican food, be sure to get a good sear on every level of added ingredients. Don’t be afraid to get the pan hot! Get a good sear on the onions so they are caramely on the outside and still crispy in the center. Also, be sure to cook your purees over high heat too. Always cook until the water evaporates and the oil starts separating from the tomato base. That is where you’ll find your deepest flavor. And, of course, overall I learned that Negra Modelo goes great with everything we ate.
A quick tidbit about Negra…I’ll honestly say I’m not a fan of dark beer. Truth be told, I’m more of a hefeweizen type of girl. However, when I tasted the Negra Modelo (on tap) I was pleasantly surprised that it did not have a dark beer flavor! There was no bitterness, which I expected to find. With that discovery, many new ideas opened up. Negra is not just useable for heavy, winter foods like stews and chili but also for lighter fares such as seafood. Oh, the possibilities!
As if one awesome chef’s event in one day wasn’t enough…later that evening, I attended an exclusive Thursday night #Foodiechats at the local Mexican restaurant, Poquitos. Can anyone say, “MORE FABULOUS FOOD?” Up on deck: Kusshi Oysters: salsa negra, shallot, lime — Scallop Tiradito: jicama, cucumber, green apple, shallot, chile, lime, cilantro — Dungeness Crab Guacamole: chipotle, onion, lime, cilantro — Local Albacore Tostadas: albacore ceviche, tortilla crisp, avocado, lemon, shallot, chile, garlic chips, cilantro –Guajillo Beef Gorditas: guajillo braised beef, corn masa pocket, braised beef, pickled cabbage, pico de gallo. All of this was, of course, paired with several salsas and chips along with a cold glass of Negra Modelo.
I have met Chef Rick several times at events such as Chicago Gourmet and BlogHer. However, this day’s events allowed for more personal conversation and interaction. I enjoyed this SO much as these are the types of experiences that truly give you education on the subject…not to mention lots of smiles and laughs. Hope to see you again in Chicago, Chef!
Aside from the typical #Foodiechats themed questions, Chef Rick Bayless, himself, spent an extra half hour answering questions from Twitter participants. He was very focused on the discussion and did a fabulous job keeping up with the fast paced, trending conversation! With delicious food, shared laughs and lots of new friends, I call this trip a total success.
Now, have you decided on your recipe for the Negra Modelo beer challenge yet? What are you waiting for? Get cookin’!
(To read more about these events, be sure to check out Samantha at Little Ferraro Kitchen and Jennifer at Real Posh Mom — both ladies of which I finally got to meet face to face, after years of chatting and recipe trading online. What a pleasure! )