Met up with fellow Umamimartians last week at The Trappist, a Belgian beer bar in "Old" Oakland, downtown. I made SF folks come out to the East Bay-- and they actually did! On a school night! Such trickery.
The thing is, The Trappist is so much more than just a specialty beer bar. Oh, so much more. The kitchen serves up some dishes that really need to be taken seriously in the Bay Area food community. I had heard about their Taco Tuesdays from @serooo, who had Twittered the cute little piggy flyer. Belgian beer carnitas, could it be true???
The Trappist has nearly 30 beers on tap (Belgian, European, local microbreweries), and another 100 in bottles. If that ain't the ultimate beer bar, well, you're trippin'. Among all 15 of us throughout the evening, I'm sure we ordered one of each from the tap. There's the front bar, the Main Pub, with bar seating, which houses about half the beers listed on tap.
The rest of the beers are in the Back Bar, which is essentially the bigger back room. The beer menu is divided up between Front and Back Bar.
Yup, I ordered about four out of 12 on the list (my memory is a bit fuzzy, you'll have to excuse me). All served in the correct glass, at the designated temperature. The Allegash Curieux was my favorite-- probably because it's aged in Jim Beam barrels for eight months. They had just run out of Green Flash Le Freak which totally bummed me out!
Ok, on to the carnitas. The Tamarindo (and newer taqueria La Calle) restaurant folks from next door set up shop in the back outdoor area of The Trappist to serve these tacos starting at 5pm. The actual carnitas are also prepared in the Tamarindo kitchen.
These tacos are delicious. Carnitas on soft corn tortillas, doused in house-made salsa verde with a squeeze of lime. Perfection. The carnitas are flavorful, with a hint of sweetness, not dried out, yet not overly fatty.
I was lucky enough to get an email this morning from Aaron Porter, co-owner of The Trappist, explaining the preparation of the carnitas:
The carnitas are basically a confit. The pork is cooked in its own fat and then beer (St. Bernardus Abt 12) is added along with some spices (orange, etc.). It’s left to cook for several hours like this. Everything else you see on the food menu at Trappist is made and prepared by the Trappist.
This is CRAZY!!! Pork, slow-cooked in St. Bernardus?? INSANITY! Not only is this over-the-top luxurious, but it is basically GENIUS.
Packaging for Abt 12.
They stop serving the tacos around 8pm, or whenever they run out, so be sure to get there on the early side. Yoko sadly missed them.
Other awesomeness coming out of the kitchen: the housemade sausage sandwich.
This sausage was so taut and perfectly (er, fallically) shaped, that talking about the Great Weiner was quite possibly the highlight of the night. It's seriously so beautiful though, so light in color!
Here's how big the sausage is, to get a sense of proportion.
Served on a crisp roll with sauteed onions and housemade mustard. OUT OF CONTROL. The sausage is very crumbly once you bite into it, and just sort of falls apart in your mouth. It's so ridiculously good.
To add to the (much anticipated) documentation and commentary on the sausage sandwich, one of the true highlights for me was getting my "pork and beer pairing" knowledge on. The gentile bartender at the back bar let me sample three beers, explaining that sausage generally pairs well with sweeter, maltier beers. It was great to try all three samples side-by-side--easier for my untrained taste buds to make a clear distinction. I chose the St. Feuillien Triple. More aromatic and fruity than sweet, the taste was impressive alone, but even better when paired with the equally impressive(-looking) sausage.
Quite possibly one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, the Trappist's Salmon Sandwich was a perfect mash-up of salmon, chèvre, arugula and crispy baguette. I really don't like beer, and I was really sad to show up too late for the tacos, but this situation allowed me to fully savor this sandwich. And for $10, the sandwich was very reasonably priced.
I thought the tacos were great and the prosciutto and fig panini was excellent (well-balanced combination of salty and sweet flavors, good bread).
I will definitely be going back to the Trappist for their awesome Harry Potter-esque interior and this amazing salmon sandwich. I love the Trappist even though I don't love beer.
Thanks to everyone for coming out! A special shout out to Gail, Travis' mama, who came out for this-- and who even bought Travis a beer. How awesome is that? Our very first Umamiventure UMAMIMAMA!
And of course, thanks to The Trappist for their impressive selection of beers, fantastic eats, and knowledgeable, helpful staff. We truly had a great time! We'll be back for sure.
Next Umamiventure will be a beer tour through Sonoma County, hosted by UM's very own beer guru, CJ. Stay tuned!
All photos by Travis LoDolce and myself.
*Umamiventures are organized monthly, traveling far and wide to find awesome, cheap grub off the beaten path.
Past Umamiventures include:
1.) Ocean Jewel Restaurant – Flushing, NYC; June 2007
2.) Red Hook Ball Fields - NYC; June 2007
3.) Taste of Jackson Heights – NYC; October, 2007
4.) Sripraphai Restaurant – Woodside, NYC; November 2007
5.) WINTERMARKET – South St. Seaport; December 2007
6.) Jackson Diner- Jackson Heights, NYC; January 2008
7.) Pacificana – Sunset Park, NYC; February 2008
8.) Puerto Alegre – The Mission, SF; March 2008
9.) Dinosaur BBQ – Harlem, NYC; April 2008
10.) Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden – Astoria, NYC; May 2008
11.) Brooklyn Banh Mi Crawl – Sunset Park, NYC; August 2008
12.) Sheapshead Bay Lobster Crawl – NYC; September 2008
13.) Flushing Food Circuit – NYC; October 2008
14.) Strong Beer Month – SF; March 2009
15.) Loisaida Throwback Crawl – NYC; April 2009
16.) Harley Farms Goat Dairy – Pescadero, CA; June 2009
17.) Tomales Bay Oyster Farm – Marshall, CA; August 2009
18.) Din Tai Fung – LA; September 2009
19.) Din Tai Fung – Tokyo; September 2009
20.) Schroeder’s Oktoberfest – SF; October 2009
21.) Fish Taco Crawl – San Diego; November 2009
22.) St. George Spirits & Hangar One Vodka - Alameda; January 2010
22.5) Everett & Jones – OAK; January 2010
23.) Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse – NYC; February 2010
24.) Guerilla Ramen Night – SF; April 2010
25.) Knife Sharpening Workshop at Hida Tool & Hardware – Berkeley, May 2010
26.) San Pedro Fish Market - LA, June 2010
26.5.) Candytown - LA, June 2010