Still dark in the wee hours of the morning, the sound of my phone vibrating on my nightstand brought me to a gasp. As my phone’s ‘do not disturb’ is set to my immediate family only to ring when enabled, I knew the call was something serious.
“Honey, Anthony is dead,” said my out-of-town wife. “He was 61”. As there’s nobody in our family with that name, I mutter, “Bourdain?”, “Yes, he killed himself.”
I sat in bed, silent. A few tears ran down my cheek…our fat chihuahua quickly hopped on my chest to lap them up as if they were some magical dog delicacy, tail wagging wildly.
Starting the day with such news left me vacant. You see, Bourdain has an 11-year-old girl, as do I. He wasn’t just some celebrity TV chef, he was a hardened restaurant cook, a dad, an author, and one hell of a storyteller. A big part of why I write about food and drink is because of his tenacity. His words served as sort of an anonymous mentorship to me…teaching me to craft my own voice…and to be fearless doing so.
As Friday dragged on, I needed comfort in the form of food, beer, and a proper vent-session with friends. But where to go? Most of my first-world travel experience cherries have been popped watching Bourdain’s No Reservations, where far out regions are brought into my living room. One old episode that stuck with me was in Hong Kong, where Anthony is bumped around by the locals over dim sum carts… an experience I’ve never had. The thought of being aggressive for bites of food in a full and loud tea house made it seem a little bit like delicious torture, one I’m willing to seek out.
Locally, a new dim sum place opened in the Anaheim Packing District called 18 Folds which offers a completely different dim sum experience. The building sits comfortably in Farmers Park…their sliding doors open air to the green eco-friendly grass hills where hand-holding couples snap selfies and kendama ninjas film each other doing tricks for hours on end. At 18 Folds, you order at the counter or belly up to their full-service bar…where eighteen taps of all local craft beers pair with the menu of small dim sum bites made on site from scratch.
“I’ll take an Offshoot Relax Hazy IPA,” I say to the beertender, admiring the all north-OC-made beers on offer. The couple next to me at the bar asks, “have you had that before…what the hell is a hazy IPA anyway?”…our conversation sparks a fun debate over beer and food: hazy vs. clear, dark vs. light, then on to chicken feet: fried vs. steamed, finishing with memories of Anthony Bourdain over a couple more rounds. It’s exactly what I needed.
I can’t say I’ve ever had craft beer with dim sum before, and it’s certainly not in any beer pairing guides, but damn if Relax (It’s Just a Hazy IPA) isn’t the perfect beer to balance out a soft and steamy pork and shrimp morsels and 18 Folds’ vampire-fighting garlic noodles. The beer chases dishes like spicy shrimp wontons, lotus leaf sticky rice, and soup dumplings with ease. Although hot tea is preferred by many with dim sum, I find that the soft carbonation and dank-juicy hoppiness of a good hazy IPA is now one of my new favorite things in life. Most bites are $3-6, beers are $7-8.
Find Offshoot Relax in cans and draft throughout O.C. or via their website at Offshootbeer.com which ships delicious one-off hazy IPAs. Currently Alpha and Bravo, a new release approach, is available for Fathers Day.
18 Folds, 430 S. Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim (714) 386-5768; 18finc.com.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest. When not writing about, photographing or filming beer, cocktails, and food, he can be found talking trash while playing Battlefield V under the name “OCBeer.”