I got my first taste of kitchen work at a small restaurant in Seaside called Vista Sea Cafe, at the age of 14. Some of my readers and all of my siblings worked there at some point. A quaint downtown restaurant focused mostly on pizza and sandwiches. Melissa and I met there when she was hired to bus tables, and we went on to return once married to run the restaurant for an absentee owner. In all I must have worked there for almost ten years. Melissa and I almost bought the restaurant on a few different occasions and sometimes I cant help wonder what our life would be like had we done that. I know with zero doubt that I wouldn't be half of the cook I am now if we had. On the flip side of that, I also know that with what I know now, I could've made the food better. Don't get me wrong it was never bad, but some small changes, and a touch of creativity could've taken a once trendy restaurant and made it more fresh, and streamlined. I just didn't know that then. The restaurant has long ago closed, and is now defunct. Inside of it is a horrible taco shop, that I took Abe to once and marveled at the floor I had mopped so many times, and the counters I had cleaned, the shelves I had stocked, the issues with customers I had dealt with, etc. Of the things I miss beer bread isn't at the top, but it is on the list, but people still ask me about it. Because I still work with some guys who worked for me there we bust it out at the restaurant every now and then. So currently I am working to get the pizza/bread dough recipe together to get broken down into a manageable size so that I can post it for all of you, and can fool around with it myself. It was a long time ago, and recipes in kitchens are odd. We measured flour by weight without "taring" the scale, we just measured it in the exact same container everyday. At the time I never thought to actually weigh the container to see what amount of actual product we put into a bowl, machine, or pan. I wish I had. So many times there have been recipes I have wanted to write down and then I have thought - I have done this so many times, how could I forget. So I never do, then 6 months down the road it begins to get a tad fuzzy, and 2 years later it is just a vague recollection of some ingredients, and now 5 years later I cant even remember all the ingredients.
Beer Bread- (Exact Vista Sea Recipe)-
5# Self Rising Flour
3 cups Sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
76 oz beer
Measure flour, add sugar to flour, whisk to combine. Add beer, then oil, stir gently to break up the lumps. Split evenly between 5 greased loaf pans and bake at 350 for about an hour, until golden brown and pulls clean with a skewer. Let rest for about 10 minutes then gently pull them from the pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
That's it. Crazy simple. First off though I would never buy self rising flour. A single use ingredient that is just a combination of other things you have in your kitchen already. Use AP flour and add 1.5tsp of baking powder per cup, and 1/2 tsp of salt per cup. Self rising flour is mostly just flour but has these ingredients already mixed in. In it's store bought form it takes up too much room in my pantry at home to keep around. Not to mention I don't see recipes calling for it very often anymore. As for the beer, long ago we used two 40's of "Lucky Dog." Funny stuff in hindsight. We then cut the beer back a tad and started using draft Bud Light. I have tried it with different darker beer before and the beer will affect the color and flavor quite a bit. I would stick with a light beer that is cheap at least for the first few times. Then you can experiment more if you so desire. Chances are you will enjoy it enough as is. I bought two "40's" of Old English to use early this morning and the clerk looked at me like I was homeless. Good stuff.
As far as uses, I like it warm with a bit of butter, or even some honey. It makes an amazing french toast, and I am going to use some of the batch coming out of the oven in a bit to try a bread pudding of some sort. It will last a day or so, and probably freezes well (I have never tried) but like all homemade bread it will not store on the counter very well. Give it a shot and you wont be disappointed. I used a tad smaller than standard loaf size pans and got six out of it, so I will most likely give 4-5 loaves away today. I told Melissa I was going to make a half batch and she seemed to think that was a waste of time cause she knew enough people that would be interested in some. Hopefully even with Vista Sea Cafe gone, we can work to preserve things like this. Without this job I would have never got into professional cooking, nor would I have ever met my wonderful wife, and I worked there with all of my siblings (never at the same time....that could've been ugly) at one time or another. We had fun, learned tons, and are better people for it. Lets not let that die.