Suds and Supper: Pairing with Dos Equis Ambar, pt. 4

Chef Alex Garcia of Casablanca in Venice, California

by: Jesse Hom-Dawson

Photos by: Todd Westphal

Although wine and cocktails are popular food pairings, beer has started to join the party, providing a more casual yet tasty alternative pairing to dishes. Ambar, a full-bodied Vienna-style lager from the well-known Dos Equis portfolio, is what Dos Equis calls, “a beer with brawn from Germany, swagger from Mexico and the finest North American pale and roasted malts.” Munich, Pilsner, Vienna toasted and dextrin malts are used to create the 4.7% ABV beer. With notes of caramel and burnt sugar, it’s the perfect beer to sip on while tasting cuisine from all backgrounds. Toting such an international pedigree, we decided to branch out from your typical cerveza and lime, and challenge six chefs from all over the U.S. to come up with a dish that pairs with Dos Equis Ambar. Check in every month to see what culinary deliciousness these creative masterminds have cooked up!

Outside the doors of the Casablanca restaurant in Venice, California, there’s a sunny Los Angeles neighborhood, a combination of hip restaurants  and bars and an arts and tourist beach enclave. Inside the doors, however, it’s Morocco circa 1942 and the classic film Casablanca is king. But the food is distinctly Mexican. Casablanca has been a Venice landmark since 1980, notable for its warm, fluffy, hand-made tortillas cooked on a griddle in the middle of the dining room, the roving tableside Margarita cart and its seafood-focused Mexican cuisine.

Casablanca Restaurant
Chef Alex Garcia of Casablanca in Venice, California.

Chef Alex Garcia has been cooking at Casablanca for 30 years, after immigrating to the United States from Mexico in 1982. “I always liked cooking, but I never considered it as a career until I came to the United States,” Garcia reminisces. He was in his early 20’s when he started cooking at Casablanca, and Carlos Haro, Jr., who ran the restaurant after his father retired in 1982, asked him to create a dish made with beer. It was the first recipe Garcia ever created, and he immediately went for Dos Equis Ambar. Using Dos Equis Ambar, a closely guarded blend of spices, tomato puree, beef stock, and mushrooms, Garcia created a brown sauce that was versatile enough for any protein, including chicken, steak or seafood. “It’s a very popular sauce, ever since we put it on the menu, and it’s been here almost as long as I have! Dos Equis Ambar has a rich flavor that is perfect for sauces, even soups.” Garcia notes.

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Dos Equis Ambar was first exported to the United States in 1973, at a time when there weren’t many Mexican beers in the U.S. market. “There were just a few brands,” Haro, Jr. remembers. “But we picked Dos Equis then, and now, with hundreds of Mexican beers on the market, we still use Dos Equis Ambar. It’s got a great color and flavor that pairs really well with our food and works in the food as well.” Just like the Margaritas and tortillas, “that Dos Equis sauce” is something that regulars often ask for. Much like Casablanca—the movie and the restaurant—Dos Equis Ambar is an institution. Well-loved, nostalgic but still relevant, it’s a classic that holds up over time.

 

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