Saturday, October 31, 2009 is Now Online!

We've finished updating and adding events and now we're pleased to announce that is now COMPLETE!

We could talk all day about its interactive features, it's updated recipe archieve, or the super easy to use schedule of events calendar.... But maybe we should let you see for yourself:

And remember, Surfas products and MORE can be purchased online at the NEW

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Beers- Kona Coffee Porter and NØgne Ø Brewery’s India Pale Ale

Surfas is known to carry hard to find craft beers from both international and domestic breweries. Here are two new arrivals we are proud to offer:

- Check out the new Kona Coffee Porter. This is the brainchild of the Ken Schmidt Maui Brewing and Stone Breweries. Layers of Macadamia nuts, toasted coconut and Kona coffee whisk one away to flavors reminiscent of a decadent tiramisu. Pair with a vanilla gelato for a great beer float

- Another gem is NØgne Ø Brewery’s India Pale Ale. The thick, biscuity malt of this beer finishes with the piney bitterness of Chinook and Cascade hops, undoubtedly qualifying this Norwegian brew to be put on the craft beer map. Pair the bite of this IPA with a caramelized braised pork belly or a sumptuous brisket.

Have any questions about these or other of our unusual beers? Stop by and let’s talk!


Aly, her Royal Beerness!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Surfas Los Angeles Site

We are down to the last final stages of completing the new site, thanks for holding tight while we finish!

Good news though, the schedule of events page has been completed through November! For our visiting Chef Classes, all you do is click on the event name and you will be brought to the Chef's Website. Pretty neat! We are in the process of getting all the recipes from past demos and events up. We are testing a couple ways of adding them, so, if you see some stuff disappear and reappear, don't worry, it's just us. And everything will eventually return!

So, for now, head on over and check out the new calendar. Let us know what you think! The new web address is:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"O" Tapenade and Rice Pasta Tasting

Everybody's favorite Chef Lavender will be leading a casual demo and tasting at the front of the store on Friday October 9, 2009 from 12-1:30. On the menu: "O" Meyer Lemon, Picholine Olive and Champagne Vinegar Tapenade with Rustichella d'Abruzzo Rice Pasta. Stop by for a taste!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Events for the week of October 5, 2009: Demos and Visiting Chef's Classes

Wednesday, October 7:
  • Baking 101 Series: Pies and Tarts with Gourmandise Desserts (Visiting Chef Class). 11am to 2pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. $55 per person. To register, please email or call 310.382.4692. Students will receive 10% off their in-store purchase the day of class!

    Learn the secrets of an easy, flaky pie crust, buttery tart crust and irresistible fillings. Our chefs will visit the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market that morning and pick the finest, sweetest fruits for some most delicious desserts!

    Perfectly Flaky Pie Crust
    Buttery Tart Crust
    Apple Caramel Walnut Tart

    Spiced Pumpkin Pie
    Pear Frangipane Tart

    The Baking 101 Series is designed to teach basic techniques of baking and expand on them using market-fresh produce and the finest ingredients available. Take as many or as few of classes in the series as you wish.

Thursday, October 8:
  • A Pot Full O’ Stories, ages 3-5 with parent or caregiver (Visiting Chef Class). 11am to 12pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. Course fee: series of 3 $90, Single Classes Available. Call 310.295.4208 to register or online at

    Piccolo Chef, winner of Los Angeles Magazine's "Best Of " award for Best Kids' Cooking Classes in Los Angeles, is bringing one of its most popular classes to Surfas! Curl up with a good book and some good eats! In this class we'll discover a new picture book like "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" or "Blueberries for Sal" and make a delicious and healthful recipe from the book! Each child will receive a cookbook with the class recipes as well as a Piccolo Chef Certificate of Completion at the end of the series.

Friday, October 9:

  • Bread Baking 101 with Gourmandise Desserts (Visiting Chef Class). 3pm to 6pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. $55 per person. To register, please email or call 310.382.4692. Students will receive 10% off their in-store purchase the day of class!

    This class will teach you the basics of two very different doughs: a Yeast Dough and Quickbread Batter.

    Yeast breads are simple once you learn how to make a quick starter! We will make:
    Quick Yeast Bread Base, Apple Pecan Sticky Buns, Cinnamon Rolls

    The second half of the class will focus on Quickbreads and Tea Loaves as we make Apricot Zucchini Bread, Blueberry Muffins and Cranberry Orange Tea Cakes.

Saturday, October10:
  • La Cucina Italiana, ages 6-9 (Visiting Chef Class). 9am to 10:30am in the Surfas Test Kitchen. Workshop Fee: $49. Call 310.295.4208 to register or online at

    Piccolo Chef, winner of Los Angeles Magazine's "Best Of " award for Best Kids' Cooking Classes in Los Angeles, is bringing its popular classes to Surfas! From the tip of the boot to the peaks of the Alps, come enjoy the tastes of the Italian kitchen! In this class we will work together as a team to discover new ingredients and flavors from all over Italy and the Mediterranean regions, as well as create fresh and healthy meals to feed our minds and bodies. With recipes like Pumpkin Gnocchi with a Sage and Pecorino Butter Sauce and Gelato alla Fragola (Strawberry Gelato), you'll be eating your way through the Italian kitchen and culture!
  • SerendipiTea Tea Tasting: 12pm - 4pm at the Front of the Store. FREE! Tea cleanses the body and restores our sense of well-being and balance. Come meet with Philip Alvidrez & lovely Rosemeri of SerendipiTea for an afternoon of Tea Tasting & Talks at the front of the store. Sample some our favorite brews, and learn the correct way to steep a perfect cup!

  • Street Foods Demo: 12pm - 1pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. FREE! Learn the secrets to creating fiery Korean BBQ tacos, fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, and fragrant lemongrass chicken Banh Mi sandwiches. It’s so easy you can do it at home, in a truck, or on the street.

    Minnie is a Private Chef, Food Writer, and Cooking Teacher who resides in the Santa Monica Canyon. She has cooked in professional kitchens, high profile private homes, and for large scale catering events. She is the author of a popular food blog called, www.MinnieEatWorld.Com. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, Where to Eat Magazine, The Somerville News, Boston’s Weekly Dig, and Swindle Magazine.

    Samples and recipes will be available!

  • Fall Pies and Tarts with Gourmandise Desserts (Visiting Chef Class). 3pm to 6pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. $55 per person. To register, please email or call 310.382.4692. Students will receive 10% off their in-store purchase the day of class!

    Learn the secrets of an easy, flaky pie crust, buttery tart crust and irresistible fillings. Our chefs will visit the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market that morning and pick the finest, sweetest fruits for some most delicious desserts!

    Perfect Pie Crust
    Buttery Tart Crust
    Apple and Caramelized Walnut Pie
    Peach and Blackberry Pie
    Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart
    Poached Pear Tart

Alert: LA Weekly's Foodie "Squid Ink" Blog Mentions Surfas

Nice mention of our popular FREE demos and new Visiting Chef's Classes. Have you checked out a class yet? Click on over to our Facebook page for the list of upcoming classes this month, or check back here later today for this week's demos and classes.

Click here for the Squid Ink Blog Post!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gift Baskets!

Too early to start thinking about Holiday Gift Baskets? Nah! Avoid the Holiday rush and pre-order your Holiday Gift Basket today. We cater to every culinary passion, and occasion! For more information on ordering, please contact John Pitblado at either, or 310-559-4770 ext.275.

p.s. We can ship around the country too!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Upcoming Weekend Events for October 2nd, 3rd and 4th!

Friday, October 2nd:
  • Paella on the Patio, 12:30pm to 2pm. Welcome Fall with a hearty serving of Paella on the Cafe Surfas Patio, for FREE. Chef Lavendar will be dishing it out and spicing things up- stop by!
Saturday, October 3rd:  
  • La Cucina Italian (ages 6-9) (Visiting Chef Class). 3pm - 4:30pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. $49 per class. Call 310.295.4208 to register or online at 

    From the tip of the boot to the peaks of the Alps, come enjoy the tastes of the Italian kitchen! In this class we will work together as a team to discover new ingredients and flavors from all over Italy and the Mediterranean regions, as well as create fresh and healthy meals to feed our minds and bodies. With recipes like Gelato al Cioccolato (Chocolate Gelato) on Handmade Gelato Cones and Ravioli di Piselli (Sweet Pea Ravioli), you’ll be eating your way through the Italian kitchen and culture!

Sunday, October 4th
  • Wedding Cake Workshop with Gourmandise Desserts (Visiting Chef Class). 12pm - 4pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. $125 per person. To register, please email or call 310.382.4692.  Students will receive 10% off their in-store purchase the day of class!
    This intensely delicious 4-hour workshop is designed to teach the intermediate and pro baker how to turn simple decorated cakes into masterpieces!

    We will go over how to sculpts cakes, stack multiple layers and use dowels for support. Smoothing Buttercreams and fondant work will turn our cakes into yummy works of art.

    Our next feats of decadent architecture will feature the sweet science of creating topsy-turvy effects. We will teach you which materials to use for base supports and how to create stunning visual effects on your cakes. We will be using fresh cakes and real fillings- not just buttercreams here!

    Students are welcome and encouraged to take photos and publish them. Class is limited to 10 students and each person will take home the 2-tiered cake they've created.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Future Event Listings for Surfas

Want to know what's going on beyond this week? You can view future events on our events page on facebook! Visit by clicking here.Until our new site is up and running, we'll try to get as many of our events up on the event's page so you can plan in advance. Thanks for stopping by!

Surfas Events Team

Monday, September 14, 2009

Classes and Events at Surfas for the week of 9/14 through 9/20

It's a busy week at Surfas! Stay tuned here for updates on all our free in-store demos, and our ever expanding list of Visiting Chef's Classes.

Not sure what to do for lunch this week? What about attending a visiting Chef's Class in our test kitchen?! Learn a new technique, and lunch is served!

Wednesday, September 16:
  • Chef Amanda Cushman's Healthy Mediterranean Class (Visiting Chef Class). 12pm - 2pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. $65 per person- Hand's On Class. Amanda Cushman contact info is or 310 980 0139,

    On the menu: Lamb Skewers with Lemon Yogurt Sauce, Mixed Greens with Crispy Feta and Tomatoes, Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Dip with Pita Toasts, Grilled Figs with Honey, and Raspberries and Creme Fraiche.

Thursday, September 17:
  • A Pot Full O’ Stories, ages 3-5 with parent or caregiver (Piccolo Chef Series). 10am - 11am in the Surfas Test Kitchen. $180 for the series of 6 classes. SINGLE CLASSES AVAILABLE! Call 310.295.4208 to register or online at

    Curl up with a good book and some good eats! In this class we'll discover a new picture book like “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” or “Blueberries for Sal” and make a delicious and healthful recipe from the book! Each child will receive a cookbook with the class recipes as well as a Piccolo Chef Certificate of Completion at the end of the series.

Friday, September 18:
  • French Macarons, Financiers and Florentines with Gourmandise Desserts (Visiting Chef Class). 3pm - 6pm in the Surfas Test Kitchen. $55 per person. To register, please email or call 310.382.4692.
    Click here to register for the class. Students will receive 10% off their in-store purchase the day of class!

    Intimidated by these delicate Parisian confections? Worry no more! We will cover the best techniques for foolproof results every time, and play with an infinite combination of flavors! Here are just some of the sweet delicacies that we will make together in this most sinful class:
    Chocolate Macarons with Milk Chocolate Passionfruit Ganache
    Vanilla Bean Macarons with Salted Caramel Cream
    Chocolate Pistachio Financiers
    Almond Financiers
    Milk Chocolate Macadamia Laceys
    Florentines dipped in Bittersweet Chocolate
Saturday, September 19:
  • Knife Sharpening, 11am - 2pm: Free knife sharpening provided by Messermeister knife experts. Have up to three (3) knives sharpened while you wait at Surfas!
  • Sushi Chef Institute- Izakaya Japanese Cooking Demo, 12pm - 1pm: Chef Andy is back in the kitchen today demonstrating the stype of Izakaya Japanese cooking. On the menu today: Nasu dengaku (Tofu dengaku)- White mise Japanese eggplants, Negi maki style- Thin sliced beef and Asparagus, and Jumbo Shrimp & Cherry tomato Kushiyaki.
Sunday, September 20:
  • Quick Bites, Meals for a Radiant Life: The Versatile Bean (Visiting Chef Class). 4pm - 5pm. $25 per person. Please visit the website to register: Or call at 310.963.4279, or email at

    Beans are a bountiful and versatile food that pack a punch with nutrients. We'll show you how to make them from scratch in a pressure cooker and give you some great recipes for quick meals with beans.

    These classes are designed for all ages and skill level. A 1 hour demonstration style cooking class filled with delicious plant-based recipes and information that can help either an amateur cook or anyone who knows their way around the kitchen, but needs help making low fat, healthy, and delicious vegetarian food.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Upcoming Weekend Events at Surfas!

  • Bread-making Afternoon with Jerry Maybrook- Ciabatta Demo, 12pm -4pm: Spend an afternoon at Surfas with premier home baker, Jerry. Not only will Jerry share his secrets for making his out-of-this-world loaves, but also give each student some of his sourdough starter. While the bread dough is resting, enjoy a tasting of our selection of beer and cheese led by one of the Surfas award winning beer and cheese experts. Tickets are $25 per person, must be 21 and over to attend. This class will fill up FAST! Early registration is suggested. Only a few tickets left!
  • Cake Decorating 101 with Gourmandise Desserts, 12pm - 3pm VISITING CHEF CLASS.
    Decorate like pro! Learn the few basic techniques it takes to create sweet masterpieces. We will make two types of fillings and a Siss Buttercream, then will fill, stack and ‘crumb coat’ a cake (each student will have their own freshly baked cake to work with).

    The second part of the class will feature piping techniques and frosting decorations such as borders and flowers. We’ll top this class off with fondant work and great ideas for themed cakes.

    $55 per person. To register, please email or call 310.382.4692.

Surfas Products now sold online at the Culinary District!

Fans of Surfas might have noticed this week that Surfas Online is no longer online. DON'T PANIC! Surfas in Culver City is still on the corner of Washington and National, we're not going anywhere.

If you were a virtual fan of Surfas, all of the Surfas products (and more!!!) are now being sold through We hope all of you love the site as much as we do.

The Surfas store is also getting a new website! Now you will be able to find store events, chef class schedules, recipes and more at The site is still under construction, but will be up soon. For now, look here for upcoming class schedules, and be our Friend on Facebook!

The Surfas Events Team

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sake Tasting Notes

Many thanks to Yoshi Murakami for making our first Sake tasting an informative and memorable one! Below are the notes from the tasting.

Shinrai “Thunder Boy”(Tokubetsu-Junmai)
This Junmai is clean, crisp, and beginner friendly with delicate dryness and smoothly dissolving finish. When warmed, this sake presents itself with a curious alter ego of intensely focused personality with a pleasant dried fruit-driven maturity. Enjoy chilled, room temperature, or gently warmed.

This sake is a real treat, for it is a good lesson in contradiction. The lesson is... that it is complex in its simplicity; it is sweet yet dry, it's chewy but soft, and it seems a bit dull even though it is vast in flavor. The nose shows marshmallowy fruit, and yet the granular fragrance of the rice adds a welcome nuance. This sake is round and easy to drink for the novice, and yet interesting enough for even the seasoned sake lover.

Kobe No Kaze
This sake is very round and smooth on the palate. It is very approachable, yet it has some unique flavors like sweet nougat and green tea with a pleasant nuance and mouth feel of honey-cured bacon fat. All of these facets come together seamlessly and create what can only be described as umami. Enjoy as a cocktail, but be astounded when this sake is paired with a hearty, white sauce Italian dish.

Classification of sake:

Ingredients: Rice, Water, Koji mold, Yeast, Rice, Water, Koji mold, Yeast, & Distilled Alcohol.

Seimai buai (Polishing Rate) =% of the rice which remains after grinding.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Father's Day Weekend Kickoff: Beer and Sausage Tasting Class

The Best of the Wurst

We kicked off Father's Day weekend in the best way we could think of: Beer and Sausages! Aly was back to lead an informative and tasty class on some perfect beer and sausage pairings. Below are her notes!

1. Julius Echter Hefe Weiss (4.9% ABV)
Rabbit, Pork and Ginger Sausage (D'Artagnan)

a. This foggy pale yellow brew has a powerful aroma of banana and clove, typical of the German Hefeweizen yeast used. These pale, moist sausages, which contain no artificial ingredients, preservatives or colorings, at first bite give off a subtle, light flavor that works in tandem with the barley and wheat malt, bringing out the sweet caramelized notes of the grilled sausage. But, wait a moment and ginger and a hint of garlic descend on the palate, giving the sausage an Asian flair the complements the peppery notes of this Hefeweizen.

b. Suggested Condiments: House Roasted Veggies (with scallions or roasted sesame seeds

2.Prohibition Ale (6.10% ABV)
Mergeuz Sausage (Fabrique Delices)

a. Bittering hops play a large role in this American Red/Amber Ale, which isn't typical of all beers this style. The ale goes through several layers of alternating biscuity, toffee malt tones and piney hops, illustrating the amazing complexity of this beer. The medium carbonation and crisp hops simultaneously refresh the palette from the heat of the spicy Mediterranean beef and lamb sausage. Citrusy and sour esters beckon the diner for another round of this pairing

b. Suggested Condiments: Harissa

3.Gouden Carolus Cuvee van der Keizer (10% ABV)
Chicken Apple Sausage (House Made)

a. Deep raisin and brown sugar from this Belgian Strong Ale brings out the caramelized flavors of the grilled chicken and apple sausage. One wouldn't notice that behind the green apple and sweetbread aroma, this full-bodied ale weighs in at a whopping 10% ABV. The dry, crisp finish of the brew invites one to revisit the chicken apple sausage for another succulent bite.

b. Suggested Condiments: Grilled Onions, Sweet Maui Mustard ((or other sweet mustard))

4. Dragoons Dry Irish Stout (5% ABV)
Venison and Cherry Sausage (D'Artagnan)

a. An exemplary Irish Stout with generous hops and a strong roasted character. The tastes of dark bitter chocolate and coffee swirl together in a medium-bodied, almost creamy, brew and marry well with the sweet tart cherries in the sausage. Venison's lean nature isn't overpowered by the low carbonation, which gives way to the slight dryness on the finish.

b. Suggested Condiments: House Made Pickles

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Recipes from Events

Did you know that every recipe given out at one of our Surfas events is available on the website?

You can find them all here on the recipe page:

Are we missing one? Let us know! You can always reach us at info at

Thursday, June 4, 2009

“CHEAT SHEET”: Beer Styles and Flavors

“Put it back in the horse!”
-- H. Allen Smith, after he drank his first American beer.

When shopping for a beer, one is greeted with a dizzying array of imported and domestic beers to choose from. Colorful labels almost beckon with a “come-hither” gesture, as if to invite one to enjoy the bubbly brew that is awaiting within. The label of a beer is more than a marketing tool, and is often an extension of the beer/brewer/brewery's personality itself. When we are in a crunch to select a beer and don't know where to start, the label is the first place we look to, hoping that the elegant script or the dancing pink elephant on the front is indicative to some extent of the experience we will have upon opening it.

Unlike many ambiguous wine labels, which almost seem to mock the uneducated wine buyer, beer labels are more like your friendly next door neighbor; they willingly divulge the style, taste and sometimes, way to pour. Pending on where the beer was brewed and what combination of hops, yeast and malt used, there can be a large variation in a given style. If you don't like one beer, don't rule out all others in the same style/category. Most beers claiming to be of a certain style have certain characteristics as a base, and from there, can stray in a number of different directions. If you are unfamiliar with the characteristics of a certain style of beer, try one out! Often you can spend as little as $2 to try something new. Here's a simple cheat sheet to get you started:

“CHEAT SHEET”: Beer Styles and Flavors***

Abbey – Strong, fruity, spicy, aromatic, complex
Altbier – Bronze-colored, snappy bitterness, full malt flavor
Amber – Color signals caramelized flavors in amber ales and lagers
Barleywine – Very Strong, dark, bittersweet, malty, complex – a sipping beer
Bière de Garde – Full-bodied, herbal, flavors of anise and earth
Bitter – Fruity and racy, subtle, low carbonation, robust hopping
Bock – Dark (usually), strong, malty, toffeeish, full-bodied, with restrained bitterness
Brown Ale – Dark, caramelized, fruity, light chocolate and coffee
Doppelbock – Very strong, dark, toffeeish, with some sweetness
Dortmunder Export – Golden, dry, bready, moderate bitterness
Dubbel – Dark, fruity, complex, raisiny, spicy
Dunkel/Dunkels – Dark, malty, juicy, bready, moderate bitterness
ESB -- “Extra Special Bitter,” amber, fruity, slightly strong, hoppy
Framboise/Frambozen – Beer made with raspberries; can be sweet or dry
Gueuze – Pale, dry, funky, wildly complex, quite tart
Hefeweizen – Wheat beer with yeast, light-bodied, spritzy, clovey, banana-like
Helles – Golden, light-bodied, malty, bready, restrained bitterness
Imperial Stout – Very strong, dark, roasty, coffeeish, chocolatey, robust
IPA -- "India Pale Ale", amber, strong, dry, robust hop bitterness and aroma
Kölsch – Very pale gold, bready, lightly fruity, restrained bitterness
Kriek – Beer made with cherries; can be sweet or dry
Lambic – Fermented by wild yeasts; tart base for gueuze and fruit beers; funky
Märzenbier – Amber, bready, round, malty, caramelized, juicy, medium-bodied
Mild -- Dark, lightly hopped, caramelized, raisiny, light-bodied
Oktoberfest – Should be the same as Märzenbier but sometimes paler
Old Ale – Somewhat strong, dark, caramelized, fruity, balanced bitterness
Oud Bruin -- “Old Brown,” dark, sweet-and-sour, fruity, juicy, raisiny, complex
Pale Ale – Amber, snappy, dry, fruity, hoppy, with some caramel flavors
Pilsner – If genuine – golden, dry, sharply bitter, flowery, bready, snappy
Porter – Very dark, chocolatey, coffeeish, caramelized, hoppy
Rauchbier -- “Smoked beer”; smokey flavors and aromatics, juicy, caramelized
Saison – Dry, sharp, spicy, complex, refreshing, hoppy, slightly strong
Schwarzbier -- “Black beer,” dark, bitter chocolate, dry, caramelized, bready
Scotch Ale – Dark, sometimes strong, malty, full-bodied, restrained bitterness
Stout – Black, coffeeish, chocolatey; can be dry or sweet, strong or modest
Trappist – Made by monks; strong, fruity, spicy, complex
Tripel – Pale, strong, dry, fruity, complex, spicy, rummy, spiritous
Vienna-Style – Bronze, sweetish, malty, bready, caramelized, light bitterness
Weisse/Weissbier – Wheat beer, usually with yeast. See Hefeweizen
Witbier – Belgian wheat beer, hazy yellow, light-bodied, citric, spritzy, slightly tangy

Try something new or amazing? Curious about my favorites? Send questions and comments my way.

I'll be seeing you at rounds. Cheers!

Aly Iwamoto
Surfas Cheese and Charcuterie Lady
Beer Lover, Enthusiast, and Brewer

hey.beermeplz at

***Oliver, Garrett. The Brewmaster's Table. New York, NY: HarperCollins Books, 2003. Print.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Keys to the Store: Beer Terms

Brewing Ingredients:
The German Purity law lists beer ingredients as:
• Water ( the medium)
• Malt ( base)
• Yeast (the catalyst)
• Hops (the stabilizers and flavoring agents)

Belgians and other distinctive craft brewers use spices, seeds, nuts, flowers, fruit, coffee, ad many other flavors. The legitimate grains for malt are barley, wheat rye, and oats. All others are considered adjunct (substandard) such as corn, rice and other lesser grains.

Types of Beers
Lager and Pilsner: are bottom fermented and are generally lighter and lower in alcohol.
Ale and Wheat Beer (Weiss): are top fermented and usually fuller flavored and higher in alcohol.
Stout and Porter: can be either top or bottom fermented.

Additional Terms
Imperial: A highly extracted version of a certain type of beer.
Double: Twice the malt half the water, way too much of a good thing.
Vintage: Beer produced in a certain year or for a holiday
Bottle Conditioned: A second dose of yeast is added to insure complexity
OG (Original gravity): The ratio of solids to liquids in a brew
IBU (International Bittering Unit): Amount of hops on a scale of 100
ABV (Alcohol By Volume): The amount of FUN in a beer

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Aly's Intro: Cinco de Mayo Beer and Cheese Tasting Notes

This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which
the Lord has intended a more divine form of consumption.
Let us give praise to our maker and glory to His bounty
be learning about beer.
--Friar Tuck

There is a reason why monks are known to brew beer and make cheese. Perhaps it is because beer and cheese make people happy, and the production of these products serves the community around them, or perhaps the process of manipulating basic ingredients into something beautiful is a near-holy experience in itself. Whatever the reason is, there is no denying that the pairing of a bubbly brew with a delicious cheese is a divine one.

Naturally, when asked to conduct the first beer event of the year for Surfas, I relished the opportunity. What better way to kick off our Beer Series at Surfas than by paying homage to this time-old traditional pairing? I picked five beers and cheeses that I thought would illustrate the range and flexibility in which these two things could be paired and enjoyed.

1. Old Speckled Hen (5.2% ABV) -- Greene King Brewery; Bury St. Edmunds, UK
Beecher's Flagship Cheddar
(Beechers Creamery; Seattle Washington) melted on French Baguette crostinis, topped with Jamon Serrano
--This English Pale Ale and Cheddar share a common terroir ((UK)). The sharpness of cheddar picks up the maltiness and caramel notes of the English Pale Ale, as well highlight the apricot and nutty flavor.

2. Blue Star Wheat (4.5% ABV) – North Coast Brewing Co.; Ft. Bragg, CA
Acapella Goat Chevre (Andante Creamery; Sonoma, CA)
-- The citrusy notes of the Belgian Witbier complement the slight tartness of the chevre, while the banana and fruity notes pick up the sweetness. Carbonation refreshes and cleans the palate from the creaminess, as if to invite taste buds for another tasting.

3. West Coast IPA (7% ABV) – Green Flash Brewing Co; Vista, CA
Grayson (Meadow Creek, VA)
--The bold flavor of this stinky cheese stands up to the 95 IBU (bittering level) of the hops in this India Pale Ale. The fresh grassy elements of the hops pair well with the creamy, intensely perfumed cheese.

4. Gouden Carolus Cuvee van der Keizer (10% ABV) -- Brouwerij Het Anker; Mechelen, Belgium
Five Year Vintage Gouda (Holland)
--Caramel and fruit notes of the cheese will match the deep raisiny notes of the strong dark ale. The dry finish of this Belgian ale intensifies the creamy butterscotch notes of the Gouda.

5. Cucapa Barleywine – (ABV 10%) Cucapa Brewing Company; Mexico:
Saint Agur (Auvergene, France)
--The intensity of this beer needs an equally intense cheese. Creaminess complements the
sweet dessert like quality of the beer, as well as the syrupy mouthfeel. Tastes of dark fruit complement the saltiness of the St. Agur, which marry well in this low carbonated brew.

If you're looking to try something new but don't know where to start, or are already a beer aficionado looking for something different, we carry all of the above beers and cheeses at Surfas and I encourage you to give these pairings a try.

Fellow beer-geek? Shoot an email my way with your name ((just first name, don't try to get fresh with me)), favorite beer/style of beer, favorite way to drink it ((pairings, glasses)) and if you're a homebrewer, what was your last brew? I'd love to hear your feedback on these pairings, whether positive or constructive. :D

I'll see you at rounds. Cheers!

Aly Iwamoto
Surfas Cheese and Charcuterie Lady
Beer Lover, Enthusiast, and Brewer

hey.beermeplz at

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mother's Day Teatime Benefitting Downtown Women's Center

We are so excited about this event! Saturday on the Cafe Surfas Patio we will be hosting a Teatime Benefit for the Downtown Women's Center from 3pm to 5pm. In addition to the tea, Cafe Surfas Executive Chef Brandi Quinn has put together a scrumptious assortment of mini sandwiches (Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Tobiko Cream Cheese Spread, Curried Chicken Salad, Sliced Cucumbers with Goat Cheese, and more!) and mini desserts (Coconut Macaroons, Mini Blueberry Lemon Thyme Pies, Mini Raspberry Linzer Cookies, and more!).

Tickets are $25 per person and 50% of the proceeds will go to the Downtown Women's Center!

For more info on the event, please visit our Calendar page!

For more info on the Downtown Women's Center and their amazing work to provide supportive housing services for homeless and extremely low-income women, please visit their site here!

Monday, May 4, 2009

What to Do About Left-over Cheese

Hey Cheese Fans!

OK! People want to know what to do with left-overs. Start by evaluating the cheese(s); Trim rinds, unwanted molds and dried out bits. Smell the cheese. It should not smell ammoniated. This is bad.

OK. Now that you have cleaned and gathered the stragglers, roughly chop and lightly coat with flour or other starch. Add liquid (i.e. milk/cream, beer, white wine) and heat over a low flame while stirring to incorporate cheese.

With this concoction the possibilities are endless: Add macaroni or other noodles for a quick lunch, pour over hearty bread and bake for a quicky rarebit. You can do so much with this simple idea! Share your recipes and discoveries. We'd love to hear them.

All is fair in cheese,

Henry T. Cram

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sparkling Wine and American Artisan Goat Cheese Tasting Notes

Sparkling wine and goat cheese make a perfect pairing. The earthy “barnyardiness” of goat cheese is softened and sweetened by the bubbles of sparkling wine; ultimately showcasing its grassy floral notes and creaminess.

Our featured pairings:

Bellefon Brut Champagne -One of my favorite non-vintage champagnes.

This wine contains more Pinot Meunier than Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. It is dry yet with a long rich finish and because it is lower in Chardonnay it is less acidic with a fuller mouth feel. I served it with Cypress Grove's Midnight Moon - Goat Gouda! The rich creamy sweetness of the cheese is enriched by the champagne.

Trevisiol Prosecco

Intensely aromatic and crisp, bringing to mind yellow apples, pear and white peaches. This is a fresh and light sparkling wine from the Veneto region of Italy and paired with Cypress Grove's Truffle Tremor. The group loved this pairing. Everyone asked for seconds! Truffle Tremor is a fluffy goat cheese, with a rich fondue outer layer. It is made with a black truffle slurry. Every taste of the wine and cheese brought on an uncontrollable need to eat and drink more!

Cava Torreoria Brut Rosado - Cava Rose!

I love blush colored sparkling wines. This Cava Rose made with 100% Grenache is clean and aromatic with light fruitiness and dry berries, small bubbles, structured and balanced. Served with Andante Cavatina, a very creamy goat cheese with an ash rind and slight yoghurt sourness. The Cava Rose cut through the earthiness of this cheese, while the cheese enhanced the wine's bouquet of wild forest strawberries.

Four Vines Zinfandel Port – Not a sparkling wine, but it is the perfect dessert!

An intensely rich port while still fairly low in alcohol, with tastes of wild summer blackberries and rich chocolate. Paired with Andante Etude, aged cheese with parmesan like qualities, truly an amazing pairing! This cheese and wine fit perfectly, like a puzzle finding its missing piece.


Friday, April 24, 2009

NEW!!! Chef Classes in the Surfas Test Kitchen Starting in May

Starting May 3!!! Unlike our free demos, these classes offer the opportunity for YOU to be a participant in a small class setting.

Learn cooking, baking and culinary skills from pre-eminent professional and private chefs, bakers and caterers, restaurateurs, wine and beer experts and culinary teachers. Discover first hand the tricks of the trade and many invaluable tips of the industry in our state of the art commercial kitchen. All programs are developed by independent food professionals for you to gain knowledge that can be used in your own kitchen. These are unique classes hosted by Surfas but are solely created and arranged for you by the instructor. Therefore these are experiences that will reflect the ideas, techniques, and expertise each instructor brings to the group. We encourage you to consider being a participant and to enjoy bring your friends and have fun learning from these wonderful professionals.

Some of our upcoming classes:
  • May 3, Spices Un-Limited with Un-Curry
  • May 6, Cupcake Lunchdate! Gourmet Cupcake Baking and Decorating Class with Gourmandise Desserts
  • May 13, Amanda Cushman: Dining in Tuscany
For more information, and a complete listing of classes, please visit our Chef Classes page!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Cheese Quality

Orange, "cheese-flavored" foods are rampant in the markets today and have really warped our understanding of what cheese is or can be. Lets say, 'no', to the over-processed and rediscover the real (cheese).

There are three divisions of cheese: Artisanal, Farmhouse and Factory Cheese.

Artisanal cheeses are handcrafted, small-production and often traditionally made cheeses. Truly the pinnacle of cheese-making, they are generally produced on a small scale on a farm or a small factory. Some artisanal cheeses are strictly regulated and are specific to a region; others break tradition and aren't regulated at all.

Farmhouse cheese or Fermier (of the farm) is usually made by hand with raw milk from animals from that farm. They are often well crafted and interesting cheeses. While most follow traditional production methods others are made using more progressive processes, including biodynamic and organic set-ups which appeal to the health-more conscious consumers.

Factory cheeses came about during the industrial revolution, the first being Derby cheese which appeared around 1890. During the First World War truly large scale manufacturing began with the milk being long shipped distances in steel tanks where it is over-pasteurized to kill bacteria that could affect the shelf life of the product. Unfortunately, killing the bacteria that causes spoilage also kills the bacteria which gives flavor and texture to the cheese resulting bland cheeses.

These methods eventually led to processed cheeses, cheese food or imitation cheese products, or as I call them, dead cheese.

Cheese curator,

Henry T. Cram

***Also, a quick note about raw milk cheeses- Many people are asking about raw milk cheeses. Many great raw milk products are withheld from importation into the United States because of our strict regulations for the handling of raw milk and production of raw milk cheeses, despite findings that there is little health risk in the consumption of raw dairy products.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Beegreen Farm Stand on the Surfas Patio All Spring and Summer Long

Bettina from BeeGreenFarm will be selling seasonal items from her organic farm on our Cafe Surfas Patio all spring and summer long! For more information on BeeGreenFarm, please check out their site at: Here's a sampling of items Bettina will be selling:

  • A culinary assortment fresh, dry and potted oregano, thyme, bay laurel rosemary
  • Rosemary skewers for grilling
  • “Cozy Culinary Kindling” a fragrant culinary potpourri for your BBQ
  • Dehydrated oranges and lemon
  • Dried viola, perfect for decorating cupcakes and candies
  • Potted miniature olive trees
  • Assorted flowering branches

Blog Spot: Apples and Butter Blog Highlights David's Buratta Sundae

We at Surfas are fervent believers of the "Savory as a Dessert" school. If you'd like to check out a truly unique idea for Buratta cheese, click on over to the Apples and Butter blog for a detailed look at David Rozansky's Buratta Sundae. Direct link here.

Tickets are also still available for David's monthly wine and cheese class in the Surfas Test Kitchen. This Saturday, the 25th, from 4-5pm, David will be doing a tasting wine Sparkling Wines and American Artisan Goat Cheeses. For more details, check out the Surfas Calendar, here!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dessert Wine Tasting Notes

Below are the Dessert Wine and Cheese tasting notes from Surfas Sommelier, David Rozansky. This class was held in the Surfas Test Kitchen on March 28th, 2009.


The whole reason this pairing works so well is not only the contrast of sweet and salty, but the acidity of this high altitude wine with this specific goats cheese. The acidity cuts through the barnyardiness of the goat’s cheese, while the sweetness brings out the creaminess.
This wine is also the perfect pairing to spicy foods, such as blackened Big Eye Tuna.


I adore this pairing. Delice is slightly pungent, salty and has the consistency of cake batter, I then drizzled it with white truffle honey and served it with a varietal that has the nose of a big bouquet of flowers. It is magnificent. You taste it and your mouth cries “This must remain in my life forever!” It layers salty, creamy, sweet, floral and in anchored by the sublime earthiness of white truffles.


Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France is amazing. The French never create a wine by mistake; they always pair well with food. The varietal Chenin Blanc, is off dry and creamy on the palette. It also has excellent acidity. Grayson on the other hand is a meaty, slightly stinky, creamy washed rind cheese. After eating this cheese, you take a sip of the Vouvray and slightly gurgle it as it aerates in your mouth. The salty pungency of the cheese is replaced with honey, tart apples, apricots and honey suckle flowers.


Finally the dessert, of the dessert wine tasting. Four Vines Zinfandel Port from western Paso Robles is a lower alcohol port made from the best Zin grapes California has to offer. It reminds me of a chocolaty boysenberry pancake syrup when served with this cheese. The smoky blue, is tart and salty, with a smoked cheese finish from having been cold smoked over hazelnut shells for 15 hours. The layering of flavors is mind blowing, as if the cheese and the port exist only for each other’s benefit.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Kogi BBQ Truck at Surfas

Last Saturday Roy and the Kogi gang parked their truck in the parking lot at Surfas and dished up their Los Angeles fusion tacos for most of the afternoon. It was such a hit they had to bring in a second truck to fill in.

To finish the afternoon Roy did a demo, shared how Kogi got it's start and some of the secrets of their flavors. Kogi clearly has a passion for quality, affordable, food, mindfully prepared.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Note on Cheese Storage

Meet the Man Behind the Cheese Counter, Henry

The enemies of cheese are air, water, and extreme temperature. Avoid these elements as much as possible to prolong your cheeses life. Never freeze cheese no matter how much it rhymes. Cheese should be at a temperature no lower than your refrigerator is set to at home(35ºF). The ideal temp for cheese, in fact, is from 40º-50ºF. The warmest spots in the fridge are in a vegetable drawer or in the door making them ideal for cheese storage. Plastic wrap is not recommended for prolonged cheese storage as it may suffocate the cheese. Plasticizers in certain plastic-wraps meld with the fats in cheese imparting a plasticky flavor and raising a slight health concern. Loosely wrap hard cheeses in wax or parchment paper then in plastic if necessary. For softer cheeses it is important to wrap them more tightly with the paper or wax in order to prevent air from drying them out. Plastic containers can help reduce air flow around cheese. Fresh cheeses, on the other hand, generally spoil quickly and need to retain a good deal of moisture. It is recommended to keep these cheeses wrapped tightly in plastic or in plastic containers and to store them in a cooler portion of your fridge.
The best spot for cheese is in a specialized cheese case at your local, reliable, cheese shop. Cheese cut directly from the source and in appropriate portions is ideal. The less you have to fuss with cheese storage, the better it is for the cheese (no offense). Be smart and buy smart.

Your Friend in Cheese,
Henry T. Cram

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Welcome to the Surfas Blog

Welcome to the new spot for Surfas News! Check back often for store updates, special events, and posts from our Cheese, Wine and Beer Experts!

Looking for our Calendar of Events? Click here!

Looking for the Surfas site? Click here!

Looking for the Cafe site? Click here!