Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending yet another Whole Foods vegan dinner. This time, it was held at the Park Lane location near North Park Mall within Dallas proper. It was sponsored by local brewery Real Ale, and the menu looked just too promising to pass up! Southwestern fusion cuisine made vegan paired with a different beer for each course? You better believe my boyfriend and I bought our tickets immediately. It ended up being a great experience, and I learned so much more about the process of making beer from Real Ale’s fantastic and friendly reps. Real Ale’s beer is outstanding and also happens to be 100% vegan…so if you catch any of their fine beers at your local store, check them out!
So let’s talk about the food…
First course was the Raw Gazpacho served with a plant-based Ceviche paired with Fireman’s #4 Blonde Ale. The gazpacho was light and refreshing with notes of cilantro and topped with a little bit of Kite Hill’s soft fresh cheese. The ceviche was a raw blend of crispy cauliflower, corn, tomatoes, and cilantro all marinated in lime juice. It paired well with the blonde ale because the beer had a very light crisp taste, with a hint of orange citrus. This first course really woke up your taste buds and set the stage.
For the second course, there was the “Mini Taco Trio”, which wasn’t mini at all! These were some full-sized tacos, y’all. I’m pretty happy they were, because they were all delicious! It was really hard to pick a favorite. The Roasted Cauliflower Taco was topped with more of Kite Hill’s soft fresh cheese, which makes a really excellent sub for queso fresco. The taco was a little dry–I would have preferred a light salsa to pair with it, but you can’t go too wrong with breaded cauliflower. Next one was my favorite, the Spicy Korean Taco. It was packed with sweet and spicy flavors, and the texture of the fried tofu against the daikon pickles and crisp beets was on point. The Peri Peri Porto Taco came in at a close second, with savory marinated portabellos topped with fresh jicama. Paired with the White Witbier, the beer had a crisp, neutral taste with a smooth mouth feel that made it a great match with the spicy notes of this course.
The third course was the menu’s crowning glory: Stacked Chili Pie with Cilantro Cream. The polenta topping was so flavorful because it was made with cashew cream inside, which gave it an incredible creaminess that went beyond ordinary polenta. The chili was made with Beyond Meat Crumbles, and many of the non-vegans at the dinner raved that they would have never known it wasn’t meat. The garnish of cool cilantro cream really helped balance the spiciness of the chili. Wonderfully paired with Real Ale’s Full Moon Rye IPA, which had a bold, malty flavor that stood up to the the main course without being over powering.
Finally, dessert! Grilled Ancho Pineapple Upside Down Cake! This was SO GOOD, and it was made with the Devil’s Backbone Tripel, the same beer it was also paired with! The cake was incredibly moist with a deep molasses sweetness and just a hint of the spicy ancho chili, with a perfectly caramelized pineapple at the bottom. By the time the dessert came, I was pretty full, but I still had to eat every bite of this.
The chefs over at Whole Foods Park Lane did a really great job, and I hope to see this location host another vegan dinner soon! I would gladly eat any of this again!