Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Get S’mac

dining_RedroomThe Red’s mac ’n’ cheese (and beer pairing) is downright irresistible

The last time I really truly indulged in macaroni and cheese I was 7 years old. I was living in Chicago at the time. My friend Nancy used to invite me over to her house, down the block, and together, we’d concoct a fairly lovely batch of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese, pile it high on our plates and then pour a river of ketchup all over it. Delicious. I gained 10 pounds that year. I feared cheese-and-carb combos ever since.

So, fighting back the flashback from my youth, I decided to be brave and experience the Red’s S’mac Pairing Dinner in Downtown Santa Cruz. It sounded like the most curious food and beverage marriage since my Polish family insisted vodka was a good chaser for Polish sausage. Four courses with four different beer brews—four different and unique experiences for the palate.

Four of us gathered in the Red’s plush upstairs dining room on a Monday evening. Knowing that we were about to be offered a bevy of beer samplings didn’t sway us away from ordering a bottle of wine anyway—the Folie á Deux 2008 Napa Valley Chardonnay. (A passionate light yellow wonder with attractive tropical hints. Consider it on your next dining outing.) We toasted then conversed about life, mood swings, surprising new lovers and some of the possibilities that lie ahead in 2010. Frothy (and deep) for a Monday night, but what the heck …

And then came the first course of Truffled S’Mac, paired with a Scottish brew dubbed Ala Dubh. The handsome ale, matured in whisky casks, was a smart, friendly introduction to the evening’s culinary road trip—just the right balance of potency. But let’s talk S’mac. Resting before us was, actually, a marvelous little orecchio treasure, crispy on top, and lathered in a perfect amount of hickory smoked cheddar. “Truffle-essence,” somebody at our table mused. True. Chef Scott Case’s (pictured above) choice of orechhio, which, in Italian, translates to “little ears,” manages to hold in the unique flavors offered here. Truthfully, the taste surprised me and I think I may have blurted out that it was so good, “I could swim in it!” (Yes. In fact, I really did say that.)

Course Two. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard the name: “Ditch Dog With Chorizo S’Mac.” Translation: Basically a chorizo climbs into the welcoming bear hug of a festive bun and lies there loving how well it’s blanketed by robust pasta shells loaded with thick cheese. In a word: Orgasmic. The texture here is noteworthy. Once inside the mouth, it tends to linger there before it practically melts after a few bites. (Try to eat it slow, I dare you.) As for the  beer (“Lil Sumptin Extra”), it’s a Lagunitas Brewery baby at about 8.74 percent ABV. This one has a bit of a bite, not to mention a fine head. The combination—S’mac and beer—is impressive.

Course Three. Admittedly, the culinary offering here is one of the more adventurous unions. In fact, this “Jalepeno Popper S’Mac” is really fun to dive into. A large red bell pepper comes filled with a robust blending of cheese and pasta—a bit thicker than the others. The jalepenos here seem more like “hints of jalepeno” and never overpower. Liquid therapy came in the form of a Stone Russian Imperial Stout, with a slightly higher ABV percentage—10.5 percent. Masculine but it certainly goes down well. This third course is superior. Not everyone will swoon over red bell peppers, but given the ingredients involved here, it appears that the chef and his crew have mastered how to balance just the right amount of texture and moisture needed to avoid a real disappointment.

Bellies already full, we nearly had to pick our jaws up from the table when the Berry Lasagna Napoleon arrived. Yes. Berries and lasagna apparently dance well together. The fried lasagna noodles were a fine nest for the berries. And this, too, came with a beer—La Fin Du Monde. Initially, the four-year aged Belgian Ale may taste a bit strong, but as a whole, all the flavors offered compliment each other.

Take note: While The Red’s S’mac pairing dinners may be offered in special promotions occasionally—meaning they aren’t available together all of the time— the individual S’macs are. You can nab them at Happy Hour or for dinner. The Truffled and Jalepeno Popper S’mac run $5–$8; the Chorizo S’mac about $2 more.

At the end of the meal, as we sat there satiated, I found myself realizing I may have become a Born Again S’macker. It takes a lot for me to gush about something—OK, not “a lot”—but this meal, these wondrous little S’macs, were a refreshing surprise; a bold, inspired communion of attractive flavors that play well together and can live on in your memory.

You can’t say that about every meal.


Red Restaurant & Bar. 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 425-1913. Visit redsantacruz.com.
This is the first in a series of monthly communal “editor’s dinners.” Send your thoughts to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

His Dinner With David

Author + reporter = brainy talk in ‘End of the Tour’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual