Saturday, April 30, 2011

Contest: Enter to Win VIP Tickets to DOLE Banana Dinner at Caribe

DOLE Caribe VIP Dinner
We have 2 tickets to give away ($120 value).

April showers brings...bananas!

The folks from DOLE Bananas caught wind of Caribe's interesting uses of bananas in the menu, and, as part of their "Go Bananas After Dark" tour, they've asked Caribe to partake in the Twin Cites stop of their tour.

We're excited to help DOLE show local food bloggers and the banana-loving public that "bananas aren’t just for breakfast and lunch anymore."

On Thursday, May 26th at 6:00pm, together with Shaina Olmanson, the home cook and photographer behind Food for My Family and Olmanson Photography we will host a VIP media event, featuring a four course, banana-centric dinner menu created by Tony Panelli, and some new signature banana drinks (alcohol) to enjoy that evening. The dinner is for a select group of Twin Cities food bloggers, food writers, and media to get the word out about creative ways to enjoy bananas...after dark.

But wait! We thought, nobody's more "VIP" to us than our own customers! Our supporters! You! So we requested that we be allowed to give away a couple tickets to OUR VIP's.

And two tickets we have.


Nominate someone (it can be yourself!)...anyone who deserves to win VIP tickets to our 4 course banana dinner.

Nominate by sending us an email telling us in as many words and pictures as you like, why they (or you) deserve to win.

Email: heidi @ caribemn . com (minus the spaces)
subject: "VIP ticket contest entry"

Do you know a couple who desperately deserves a night out?
Know an aspiring chef, home cook, foodie, or food blogger who'd love to schmooze with food media guests? Know someone who's just plain bananas for bananas? Nominate them!


Make us laugh...or make us cry...but make us say, "yes! This person must win!"

This is not a random drawing. Simply emailing us a name will not count as an entry. We (Tony, myself, and the staff) will be choosing who we feel is the most deserving entry to win based on the email entries you write and send us.

If you are nominating someone other than yourself, email addresses of nominees are not needed at this time. Should your entry win, we will email back and request the necessary information to contact the winners.


Deadline for entry:
Send us your email by Friday May 6th

Winner will be chosen by Thursday May 12th (entrant will be notified by email, winner announced on our Facebook Page)


The small type...

Family members of Caribe staff & owners are not eligible to win.
Entries must be sent by email only.

By entering, you grant Caribe permission to publish your entry online and in our email newsletter (private contact information will not be shared, last names can be omitted if requested). Winner will receive two tickets, via email invitation. Each ticket includes admission to event, four course dinner, and two alcohol banana mixed drinks (per person). Any further question? Don't hesitate to ask:
heidi @ caribeMN . com (minus the spaces)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Evening for the senses: Caribe Beer Dinner

Sharone, setting the stage for an intimate dinner.

Every beer glass was washed, sanitized, polished and inspected closely to ensure it was "beer clean." Without perfectly clean glassware, the beer will not form the desired head upon pouring.

Adam Schulte, the certified Cicerone from Ale Jail starts off the evening with a fun sensory trick we all got to try, and encourages guests to breathe deep, take in the smells, and savor the flavors.

After frying the tostones, Tony & LaRonn quickly plate the first course.

The Amuse Bouche before it got whisked away to the dining room: Salt Cod Ceviche, toston, with avocado relish. Paired with Hennepin Saison.

The food guy & the beer guy.
With each course, Adam speaks about the beer, and Tony speaks about the food.

Back in the kitchen, the staff works like a machine (even with me in the way!) LaRonn & Tony pull the hot appetizers out of the oven & within minutes they are all plated and ready to serve.

II. Appetizer: Pionono (a "mini piñon"), topped with coconut chutney. Paired with Weihenstephaner Hefe.

Tony talks about the next course, explaining cooking techniques, ingredients used, and answers questions.

"This is soooo good!" was heard several times in the back, as we got to sample dishes once everyone in the dining room was served. Sharone (left) and Jenn.

In another well-choreographed act, they pour, drizzle, garnish & send off the third course.

Guests at Adam's table are served the third course.
III. Soup: Gazpacho topped with black bean sauce and micro greens.
Paired with Flat Earth Belgian Pale Ale.

The fourth course is underway in the kitchen.
Rum glazed jumbo shrimp sits in the pan of bubbling glaze; waiting to top the Paella.

Tony pulls the cover off the steamed mussels & I grabbed a picture.
Here they are, just before being scooped out and plated with the Paella.

IV. Entrée
Caribbean Paella: Saffron rice, spicy chorizo, jerk chicken, octopus, mussels, langoustines, almonds, golden raisins, roasted sweet peppers; topped with rum glazed shrimp. Paired with Lagunitas Maximus IPA.

The Paella is served.

These LaTrappe chalices are specially designed for the LaTrappe beer, made by monks in the Netherlands, to be served in. They feature a tiny etched feature in the bottom to enable the carbonation to originate from the center of the glass.

Tony sprinkles powdered sugar over the Banana rum cheesecake, made locally by Muddy Paws . It was complimented with pineapple caramel, whipped cream and fresh berries.
Paired with La Trappe Quadrupel.

Shortly after the cheesecake course was served, Tony and Adam surprised guests with an extra beer; a pour of Rodenbach, as we toasted to celebrating our first year in business!

A happy chef.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Twitter & tasting. How the beer dinner came about.

It began on Twitter. @CaribeBistro met @AleJail. Adam from Ale Jail had a question. Heidi (me) from Caribe tweeted back. And not long after he was eating our food; we were tasting his beer, and soon planning a beer dinner.

If you haven't heard the buzz on Twitter yet, we've teamed up with Certified Cicerone (similar to a sommielere, but of beer. There are currently less than 200 of them in the United States) Adam Schulte, of Ale Jail, to put on Caribe's first-ever beer dinner.

What's the big deal? Isn't it just beer and dinner?

If you're already a connoisseur of fine beers, you probably know all about beer dinners and food pairings, (and several of you have already made your reservations). But if you've never heard of a beer dinner, you're not alone.

Yours truly was skeptical at first when Adam first tweeted me a message, asking if he could bring by some beer to try with our food. I mean, my only prior experience with beer was with whatever was cheapest on a night out in college. I'm a grown up now. Beer? No, I'll have wine, thanks. I, after all, had graduated from the college days of quarter tapper nights and never looked back. Was I really missing out on anything?

And then Adam sent me descriptions of the beers he had in mind to maybe add to our menu. Here are a couple examples that piqued my interest:

Flat Earth Belgian Pale Ale:
Toasted biscuit malt meets banana, spice and floral hop aromatics. Caramel sweetness lends to a medium body before the beer dries on the finish. A very versatile food beer.

Lagunitas Maximus IPA:
Orange zest and herbal hop aromas combine with subtle malt sweetness and balanced bitterness. A powerful beer for powerful food. Try something spicy!

Whaa? Was this beer he was talking about? Add to this list a bright, effervescent, aromatic German hefe who's yeast swirls in the bottom of the bottle, a quadrupel made in the Netherlands by Monks, and a refreshing saison made in New York. Everything I (ignorantly) thought I knew about beer had changed.

Why April, 2011?

In all honesty, we hadn't considered looking into specialty beers since Caribe opened last year because, being such a small restaurant, we barely met minimum order quantities as it was with the more mainstream beers we carried. And, truly, we didn't know what we were missing. But Adam persisted and took it upon himself to not only bring us samples (that instantly won us over), but lined us up with distributors who could work with our "smallness."

We figured a new beer menu like this deserves celebrating. And what better way to kick it off, than to have Adam pair the new beers with a 5-course Caribbean dinner and talk about the beers at the dinner? Tony's prepared a fantastic menu, (which we'll reveal later on the website) and Adam will join us for the dinner to discuss the beers, fill your glass, and answer questions.

And, to make things sweeter, the dinner falls mid-April, which happens to be Caribe's 1-year anniversary. Another big reason we want to (need to!) celebrate this month.

Now what?

So where does this leave me? I've now tasted all the beers to be featured in the dinner (also shown and described here). I love the new beers. I can't wait to try them with various dishes on our menu. I'm no longer an ignorant beer-scoffing snob. I'm humbled, eager to learn more, and look forward to sampling more unique beers from Ale Jail, which, by the way, is an experience in and of itself. If you haven't been by the store, you're in for a treat. If you're not sure where to start, Adam can help you put together a custom 6-pack from the walls lined with beautifully labeled bottles you won't see in other liquor stores.

So that about sums up my enthusiasm! This beer dinner is more than just a pairing of fine beer and food, but a pairing of Tony's passion for Caribbean cooking, with Adam's passion for beer. One can't help but get caught up in the excitement when creative, delicious ideas collide. So much so, that I admitted to Adam how I was sipping some wine the other night and kinda wished it was a beer. "It's OK," he assured me, "it's part of the process."

More information

To get the word out about the dinner, we've been having fun with "the story"- beers escaping Ale Jail and taking Caribe hostage. Watch the site, as the story continues to unfold (was the chef really taken hostage? Or was he conspiring all along?) while we draw closer to April 18th.

The beer dinner is by reservation only. Tables are still available. Call the restaurant to get on the list: 651-641-1446