Mad Fox Brewing Company isn’t known for having an exclusively plant-based menu, which makes the fact that they are hosting a vegan beer dinner all the more interesting.
Travis Weiss, Mad Fox’s head chef, told the News-Press back in March that he’s been wanting to try to incorporate more vegetarian and vegan options into the restaurant’s menu, to take on the challenge of introducing plant-based dishes to Mad Fox’s meat-heavy bill of fare.
“I was anticipating doing a more vegetarian menu but at one of our marketing meetings it came up,” Weiss said. “And I said ‘Screw it. Let’s go vegan. Let’s see if we can do this.’ I figured we’d challenge ourselves a little bit.”
Weiss, who spoke to the News-Press from the new Mad Fox Taproom he’s helping to open in D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood, said that he’s found the challenge fun so far. The menu features all Asian dishes.
“We figured Asian because Asia’s got a lot of cool flavors and a lot of cool things you can use as proteins and [in place of] animal products,” Weiss said.
“So we figured it would be a fun path to explore. And then my sister is a pretty talented home cook. She does a lot of paleo and organic cooking down in North Carolina and she actually came up with one of the dishes.”
The process that Weiss, his chefs and his sister took to come up with the menu was fun. He said that they picked five Asian countries – India, The Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan – and wrote them down on separate pieces of paper, wrote down the five courses of a meal – appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert – on separate piece of paper, fold them all up and threw them into a hat with their names and picked them at random.
“One of my guys, Brandon, picked appetizer [and] India, so he’s doing an Indian appetizer,” Weiss said. Brandon’s appetizer is Puri Puri – chickpea fritter, mint chimi, crispy puri and “butter” sauce.
Weiss ended up having to come up with a soup dish inspired by The Philippines. What he came up with – Matusake Caldeerta – was inspired by a Filipino chef of his from his days at Belle Haven Country Club.
“It’s not how he used to make it. He used to pork or beef bones to make a really nice, rich stock and then build it from there,” Weiss said. “But it’s got tomatoes and potatoes. It’s a really hearty soup. And he used to make it for our family meals at work. So whenever we had spare s*** laying around, like beef bones, he would let it cook all day and at the end of the day we’d have this awesome soup called caldereta.”
Weiss’ Matusake Caldereta’s is made up of bean thread noodles, achiote, avocado oil and flaxseed cooked in a mushroom stock.
Weiss also came up with the Japanese inspired dessert, GT Mochi, which is made up of handmade mochi, green tea sorbet, lychee and red bean paste.
As of press time, Weiss did not know what the beer pairings were going to be for the vegan beer dinner, but was excited to figure it out.
“It’s gonna be fun because breweries aren’t really known for doing a lot of curries and a lot of Asian food,” Weiss said. “So it’ll be fun to see how we pair these up. “