I was recently invited to La Carnita to try a special menu that paired with Daura Damm beer.  It was a night of great food, drink and most importantly lovely friends!
Daura Damm is a beer that has been crafted to remove gluten and the Executive Chef, Jon Hamilton, paired it with a gluten-free menu.  Had no one told me it was a gluten-friendly meal, I would have been none the wiser.  Daura tastes great and has all of the flavour and preserves of “standard” beers.  It is also made with the same basic ingredient: barley malt.  It has a clean and crisp taste that clears your palette and makes each new dish taste like it was your first.  This meal had me so satisfied, and I felt so great afterwards, that I actually can’t wait to return and repeat the meal — beer and all!
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I am not celiac nor do I have an intolerance to gluten but there are enough people in my life that are affected by this so I love that there are options for them too.  It is hard enough as it is to live with a food intolerance so with these amazing options available, no one has to compromise!
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This was my first time dining at La Carnita and I was absolutely blown away!  The entire menu happened to be gluten-free as well so this was also my first full gluten-free meal experience.  I ate more tacos than I have ever eaten in my life and chased them with the Daura Damm.  I was expecting to feel absolutely wretched the next day but those awful after effects that usually come after a night of Mexican eats and beer never came!  Perhaps I am on to something here – maybe the removal of gluten is what made me feel much better.  Enough about my gastrointestinal discoveries of the evening, and on to more important topics — bring on the beer and Mexican eats!
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The Executive Chef at La Carnita, Jon Hamilton, put together a menu for us that worked beautifully with the Daura Damm pilsner:

I wanted to take the menu through the traditional La Carnita dining experience, one that can be experienced by all the guests coming to the restaurants and pair it up with Daura Damm gluten-free beer. The focus of the food was to build a gluten-free menu, but more specifically, one that came about naturally when nothing was substituted to make the menu gluten-free. Everything on the menu was gluten-free because that’s the way I thought it tasted best, and as a chef it was nice to know that no compromising had to take place. One of the great things about La Carnita is that we don’t use a lot of flour in the cooking; we use corn flour tortillas and corn flours are often our go-to choice over traditional wheat flours. So I put the menu together with a few classic signature dishes I thought worked well with the Daura Damm and also added in a few of our specials and feature items that we have to make it a little unique.
-Jon Hamilton, Executive Chef, La Carnita

The night began with a few appetizers.  I say a few but I could have literally stopped after the first three dishes and been completely satisfied.  Every dish got better and better so it was exciting to see what the next dish would be!

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Tortilla Chips & Dips – Guacamole, Spicy bean dip & corn salsa


Tortilla chips and dips is a classic Mexican starter and one of my personal favourites.  Crunchy and salty chips and great beer paired with lovely people is what great nights are made of.
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Mexican Street Corn – Crema, queso anejo, arbol & Ancho chili powder


Another first for me — I have never eaten Mexican Street corn before but I fell instantly in love with it!  The sweet and creamy flavours were perfect together and because the Daura Damm is so clean and crisp, it worked perfectly to cut through the creaminess of the sauce and clear my palette for the next great dish.
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Scorpion wings – confit chicken wings, scorpion chili BBQ sauce, seeds of paradise & coconut crema


The appetizers had so many flavours going on, spicy, sweet and savoury and the Daura Damm complimented each flavour in a perfect way.  The Scorpion wings were a touch spicy and because I’m a complete wimp when it comes to spice, the Daura Damm helped me out by balancing my palette so I could enjoy the next delicious dish.
I mentioned earlier that I have never eaten this many tacos in my life, and it’s true, but can you blame me?  How could anyone pass up trying the many varieties of the best Taqueria in the City?!  Will power was fleeting each time the server put down a new taco variety.
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Beef Cheek – ancho braised beef, lime avocado, green cabbage, pickled jalapeno, queso anejo & Charred pepper hot sauce.


The beef cheek taco was as spicy as it was delicious.  I actually panicked a little bit because I had taken a mouth full before I realized and at that point I was committed.  Thank goodness I had the Daura Damm to extinguish the fire so I could continue my sampling.  The beef cheek tacos were phenomenal (next time I will survey the jalapeno situation beforehand).
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West coast rockfish taco – wild BC snapper, corn batter, lettuce, tamarind balsamic sauce, chipotle mayo & tomatillo salsa.


I’ve always loved how battered fish and beer pair together so when I saw the west coast rockfish taco, I got excited.  As expected, the Daura Damm and the fried fish are a match made in heaven.
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Tostada de Ceviche – Albacore tuna, guacamole, coconut milk, habanero, tomato & cucumber.


Butter chicken mole taco – lime cabbage, jalapeno relish, Mexican crema & scallions.

Cotija Taco – lime avocado, cauliflower beans, pickled carrots, chipotle hot sauce & queso cotija.


Vegetarian options too!  The cotija taco had no meat in it at all but the flavours were so bold that you wouldn’t know it!  The Daura Damm stood up to those bold flavours, just like it had for each of the other dishes.

Often chefs look to pair bold flavors with bold beers, but when I’m pairing food that’s got some spicy kick and big bold flavors, I’m often looking for something clean, crisp and approachable. This isn’t only because it’s what I like to drink, it’s because I want a beer that’s not overwhelming. It has to taste great and have good flavor, but also clears the palate and make each bite of food just like the first one. For La Carnita, it is important that the beer and the food work together to enhance the overall dining experience.
-Jon Hamilton, Executive Chef, La Carnita

The dessert…Sweet Jesus…no, literally, they were a selection of paletas and soft serve from Sweet Jesus so I mean that both literally and figuratively!  The Krusty the Cone is my ice cream soul mate and I literally couldn’t stop eating it.

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Sweet Jesus soft serve in vanilla with sprinkles and cotton candy “Krusty the cone”


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Sweet Jesus chocolate and peanut butter soft serve with peanuts.


Thank you so much to Michelle Jobin for hosting us, Chef Jon Hamilton and La Carnita for a sensational menu, and to Daura Damm for providing the perfect pairing to a phenomenal meal.
Daura Damm is available at select LCBO stores across Ontario.  Starting in April, Daura Damm will also be available at The Beer Store in select locations.
The legit photography in this post is by the talented Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Daura Damm.
With Love,
Julie
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*On occasion I do sponsored posts when I feel the quality of the product is above average and lines up with the message that I try to share through my blog.  This post has been generously sponsored by Daura Damm.