As a German-Jamaican-American who, by the end of the meal, has tried every part of the plate in combination with every other, and who, as an entry into craft beer the second time around, had his mind blown by Pinkus Organic Ur-Pils and Saison Dupont, I was particularly in love with the Family Craft dinner Thursday night in San Francisco. By the looks of things, it didn't require all that back story to enjoy, though.
Chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske of Contra and Wildair combine different cultural heritages that mirrored my own and made me feel at home, though. Stone's Chinese-American perspective joined with van Hauske's Austrian-Mexican background to create some great culinary dishes that featured unique flavor combinations.
"We don't normally serve things this way," said Stone with a smile before the first seating, "but with the way we've all come together here in an interesting place to enjoy dinner together, it made sense to serve the dishes family style."
The salad had the bitterness of mint and radiccio but also the smooth creaminess of a hazelnut anchovy sauce, and both combined well with the local asparagus. Chef Charles Phan from the Slanted Door helped source most of the local ingredients, which shined. The hay cream and fresh herbs played similarly well together on the Lamb, and the dessert – popcorn mousse and strawberry granita – left everyone happily sated.
As is the case with all of the Family Craft events, family was once again a theme. Not only was my father in attendance, as well as my wife, but we were all drinking Fort Point's excellent suite of beers, and that company is headed up by the brother tandem of Justin and Tyler and Catalana.
Justin pointed out that Fort Point's Kölsch was the first beer he brewed for the company, and then introduced his head brewer, Mike Schnebeck, who described the rest of their offerings as his babies. He can pat himself on the back for bringing them up well.
My personal favorite was Park, a light beer featuring a Bière de Garde yeast and copious amounts of Citra, which tastes like something between a wheat saison and I a straight up melon citra pale ale. But Resonance, a blended Saison, paired sweet and bright very well, and their Dortmunder Lager, Automatic, was a refreshing but nuanced take on the style. We finished with Animal, their tropical IPA, and that fruit and funk was one last strong pairing as we walked out into the night and past the bay and Alcatraz on our way out.
Different styles and profiles, coming together to enjoy together – that can be a definition of family, too, and one that fit the night beautifully.