Dionicess IX: Beer & Booze for Charity

October 21st 2011, I had the privilege of going undercover as a waitress at the highly publicized and anticipated Dionicess IX, a culinary extravaganza which has been appearing on the LA scene for the past 3 years, with all proceeds benefitting charity.

Gev Kazanchyan,a member of the Real Medicine Advisory Board and creator of these events was introduced to Real Medicine 3 years ago through our Armenian Project Director, Nairy Ghazourian.  This introduction would lead to a series of pairings over the next 3 years benefitting our project in Shinuhayr, Armenia. From Dionicess II (which paired Coffee & Chocolate) to Dionicess VI (which paired Beer, Sausage & Fries) all have had rave reviews and have brought much needed awareness and support to our Armenian Projects.

This year’s event  teamed up Gev with Dave Waltrous (Beachwood BBQ & Brewing) , Randy Clemens and Matt Biancaniello featuring “Beer & Booze” with an assortment of vegetarian dishes to compliment each.

The event was held at the Steingarten LA, which gives you a feeling of times past. Dark woods, a beautiful patio area and an atmosphere of sophistication, were the perfect setting for what we were about to experience. Their extensive menu was hard to pass up, and I enjoyed an absolutely exquisite Wild Boar & Berry Sausage with owner Abraham Berookhim  between seatings.
Matt Biancaniello (voted  LA’s top bartender 2010) was hard at work preparing the garnishes for the cocktails. There was fresh verbena that had been hand picked at 2am, pumpkin infusions, and a rare Belgian elderberry liqueur thathad never seen American soil. International shipping had caused quite a predicament as the precious nectar-of-the-gods had only arrived 2 days prior to the event!

Author and Chef Randy Clemen’s tantalizing vegetarian dishes included items such as the “Taquit-Ohhh Yeah”, a fabulous “Risotto Pop” and myfavorite, “the Hop and the Hound” which had a had a kick stronger than a mule!  Randy’s “Sriracha Cookbook” is
available through Amazon.com and his recipes do deliver a punch! If you like it spicy, this is definitely the crème de la crème of cookbooks!

Having not waitressed since college (we won’t say how long ago that was!), I was a bit nervous-but with the assistance of  Dr. Susan Jarakian & Armenian Country Director Nairy Ghazourian we were well prepared for the days journey. The 1st seating’s attendees consisted of a host of press from a variety of culinary publications, some local and some from as far as Wisconsin.  The 2nd seating was primarily comprised of Gev’s cult following, this being his 9th highly anticipated event which each year sells out within days of its announcement.

This year’s event raised over $1,400 for our project in Shinuhayr ,Armenia which supports 8,000 people from surrounding villages and is the only access to medical care in the region. Last year, we were able to provide food and clothing to sustain families through the brutal winter months as well as providing the region with an ambulance equipped with emergency supplies.

A huge Real Medicine thank you to all that helped to put on this year’s event! To read more about Dionicess IX please go to:

DionicessIX: Combining Craft Beer & Cocktails for Charity and to be added to the
main invite list for future events please send a simple email request to: dionicessgigs@gmail.com.
For information about our Armenian Project and how you can help support the families through this year’s winter please go to:

RealMedicine Armenia or directly to our donor page here.

Dionicess V: A Tale of Five Pairings

CitySip LA
September 27th, 2009

I had written about Dionicess IV’s chocolate and beer last May, and I had heard about the Dionicess events that had come before that as well, so though I had never been, I was sure I knew what to expect from Gev Kazanchyan’s Dionicess V.

This was my first event: beer by four different breweries and pizza by Tomato Pie. Simple enough, right? Well, no. Not really.

Not all Those Who Serve are Barkeeps

Once at CitySip I was put to work immediately and met the team as I went.

All together, we were a fellowship of ten behind the bar: Gev Kazanchyan, writer, professor, and gracious host; Nicole Daddio, owner of CitySip LA who not only donated her space but went above and beyond to help out through the day; Nate Sellergren, home-brewer extraordinaire and Stone Brewing Co. rep; Dave Watrous (the “Greuze-Hound”) humanitarian, teacher, and beer-savant; and Harout Bursayan, photographer and Dionicess graphic designer.

Though everyone helped out, of the ten of us there were formally five servers including myself: Nairy Ghazourian, CEO of Wellness Matters, Inc., Public Health Specialist and Real Medicine Country Director in Armenia; Sarah Kissell, Public Information Officer for LA County Public Health; Susan Scheinman, a holistic, custom nutritionalist with Ideal Source Nutrition; and Tamara Sofi of Total Health Enhancement, a designer nutritional supplement company challenging the perceived limitations of human (and horse) ability.

These women were incredible. My mom has a name for women like these: lionesses. And they were. I did not know I was working in such close proximity with so many accomplished doctors, scientists, and healers until I was forced to steady myself while hearing things like, “well, it is about as close to a cure as you can get for sickle cell anemia without changing the DNA, which is basically impossible.” Look sharp. This is the real thing.

Good Morning Punk

Gev likes to keep an element of surprise to his festivities so as he puts it, “people get more than they expect”—and he goes to great lengths to keep it that way.

IMG_1617On the other hand though, he is also an impeccably thorough host who likes to keep his guests comfortably in the know. For example, when things started to fill he scooted into the back and the next moment music filled the room. “If you start off with Celtic punk, people will get the general idea,” he said raising his glass as he walked back into the fray of hungry writers, friends, general enthusiasts, and hockey players.

Timing is Everything

Swordfish ipod

Right out of the gate: surprise number one. As people began to filter in they were served a glass of Stone Levitation Ale by Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido, San Diego.  Besides setting the tone of a day with a bit of a bonus bang, Stone Levitation was meant to cleanse the palate.

This is a new beer by Stone Brewing, and it is actually a bit unique in the sense that when they first brewed it they were not all that impressed. They liked it, but they were looking for love. Tried, and true, they went back to the drawing board and flying in the face of Stone history they decided to reduce the amount of hops. It worked. As CEO Greg Koch puts it, on the Stone Brewing website, “lessening hops hurts but we all know that sometimes there’s some hurt on the way to true love.” Though truly, my love belongs to Guinness, Levitation’s 57 IBU, bold and refreshing complexity was a delight I would happily flirt with again.IMG_1687

Wherefore Art Thou, Tomato?

At exactly 12:25pm the first pizza arrived: a Breakfast Pizza with bacon, sausage, spinach, white onion, and egg. It was paired with Smoked Porter, an American porter also by Stone Brewing.

The smokey fragrance filled my glass and even that alone was strong enough to taste. This was an in your face beer. The day had officially begun.

It was a big hit—the strong, eccentric bouquet of sweet and sour. A dark roasted, malted beer, Stone’s Smoked Porter is even said to remind people of red wine in its deep, dark, and rich framework.

As for the Breakfast pizza, to be honest it was a bit strange—but, then again, I have a touchy relationship with eggs when they appear out of context. Let me explain. Though admittedly my favorite pizza is pineapple and jalapeño, I tend to consider myself a traditionalist when it comes to pizza. As long as the three main ingredients are there–cheese, sauce, and dough—then you really can’t go wrong. Of course, just the opposite is true once you start messing with those three basic components of the pizza DNA structure: mutations abound.

That said, I asked myself later: “So, if it was not a good pizza, could it be a good quiche?” And, like a complete lunatic, my answer was: “Sure.” Which, if nothing else, may prove that while a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, a pizza by another name might very well taste better.

Hot Grandma Orchid

Before we knew it, another pizza delivery man scuttled by and we were on to our second pairing: Orchard White, a Witbier by The Bruery of Placentia, Orange County paired with a pizza called Grandma.

IMG_1694For obvious reasons, this pizza was by far my favorite. First of all, Grandma is a nick name I acquired at the ripe old age of 23 for doing various grandma-esque things like going to sleep early, asking people to turn down their music, and driving slowly.  I thought it funny too that just as I was questioning my place in the current pizza scene (i.e. not liking the “new fangled” Breakfast pizza that “all the kids” are eating these days), voila! My pizza comes along: crushed marinated tomato sauce, garlic, and parmesan cheese with fresh basil on top. YUM! I want to eat it again right now. Two thumbs up Tomato Pie.

The Orchard White was a very accommodating companion for Grandma. A barely-there aromatic beer with subtle orange and lavender additions, Orchid gave Grandma’s fresh basil and glorious sauce a comfortably wide birth.

Aged Balsamic and Saison

The third pairing was Saison Rue, a Saison ale with 8.5% avb by The Bruery paired with Grilled Vegetable Pizza, a robust assembly of grilled vegetables, roasted garlic, and goat cheese drizzled in a light soy balsamic dressing.

The Little Princess

This was another excellent coupling. The Saison Rue, named after the wild yeast strain used to help it age had a sweet, creamy flavor that brought out the balsamic and goat cheese. According to The Breury website, over time the active yeast in will bring out the “rustic notes of leather and earth” to eventually create an entirely different beer.

Hops Away: Poetry in PestoIMG_1665

Civic Duty dvd The fourth duo was Pesto Pie, featuring garlic pesto, chicken, sundried tomatoes, and artichoke, paired with Stone Brewing’s Ruination IPA, an American Double/Imperial IPA (5.9% abv).

The proud Stone Brewing is not one to lack emotion when discussing their product so it’s no surprising to see Ruination lovingly described as “a liquid poem to the glory of the hop.” If it is a poem to the hop however, it is no ordinary poem but one modeled after the Star Spangled Banner, born amid the rockets red glare of a battle flamed sky.

Aptly dubbed, “the ruiner of palates,” Ruination drops a hop-bomb that obliterates everything in site. Like the Smoked Porter, I could taste the Ruination before it touched my lips. Unlike its flowery scent however, it was neither light nor blossoming but heavy and bitter, a veratable malted blackout.

For me, the hop-splosion was a bit overbearing but then again from a personal standpoint it was the perfect match for the pizza. I do not consider myself a picky eater, though this piece seems to be mounting some opposing arguments, but canned artichoke and I do not get along. Regardless, I forged ahead, wearily onward in the face of preserved vegetables, using the palate shredding power of the Ruination as a kind of artichoke annihilator. Victory!

Plantain Fields Forever

The fifth and final pairing was dessert (or so we so navy thought): an exquisite prosciutto, plantain, pine nut, and honey pizza paired with The Lost Abbey’s Avante Garde, a Biere de Garde beer with 7.0% avb.


download The Host dvd

This coupling was my favorite because it was so unusual and yet so well matched. In this case, the beer and the pizza came together like long friends, effortlessly promoting and supporting each other. The earthy, creamy flavors of the pine nuts and plantains easily joined the doughy bread, apples, and vanilla flavors of the ale, and the ale’s sour yeast complemented the sweet honey of the pizza.

This was my first Farmhouse Ale so it helped to have Dave set the scene: “Imagine you are in the country, you work in the fields and you are just coming home from a long day. You take a bottle from a dusty, cobwebbed cupboard, and rest your feet by the fire…” I closed my eyes and there they were, the pizza and the beer sitting together, blissfully bundled in familiar comforts.

Fuzzy and Fully Loaded


Of course, just as I was beginning to feel nostalgic for my own familiar comforts, out saunters Speedway, an ominous beer, dark and brooding, flanked by a highly suspicious partner in crime: the Irish car-bomb cupcake.We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Typical gangsters these two characters crashed the party and stole the show.  Speedway Stout by Alesmith, a self proclaimed “HUGE Imperial Stout” weighs in at a mammoth 12% abv. Made with pounds of coffee and chocolate aged in Bourbon barrels, it poured thick almost syrupy with the arrogance of fine liquor. It was marvelous. Speedway eclipsed all the beers that came before it, enveloping them in its vast and starless night.

The only thing that withstood this black blizzard was Speedway’s cohort, a mini cupcake made with love, whiskey, and scandal by miniature-cake-masters Christine Baboomian and Sarah Kissell. Like the rabbit at the Cave of Caerbannog in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, this cupcake was no fluffy pushover. A Guinness soaked body, a Whiskey fudge heart, and covered in Bailey’s frosting: it was like getting held up by someone wearing a corsage. Deliciously arresting.

A Limitless, Sheltering Sky

The Player dvdrip With the help of our sponsors, CitySip, Tomato Pie, Stone Brewing Co., The Bruery, Lost Abbey, and Alesmith, all those who lent a hand behind the scenes, and those who bought seats and donated on their own ( Joshua Lurie of FoodGPS, Dr. James Fallon, Bryan Sullivan, and even CitySip’s own Nicole Daddio), we were able to raise $1099 for The Real Medicine Foundation.

IMG_1675The event was not what I had expected—it was more. But then again, that is the nature of Real Medicine. The people that come to support us are of a particular breed.

It might sound lofty but it is true. In the midst of all the things that go wrong with the world, Real Medicine is doing something to help those in need and that kind of energy brings around some of the best kinds of people. People you read about, people who are changing things, even if only in seemingly small ways–like driving all the way out to Echo Park from Orange County for beer and pizza, or making a donation instead of the drive.

And these people are the heart of Real Medicine: real miracle workers slinging pizza and serving beer, real people lending their hands, lending their minds, their talents, and their weekends all for people who they will know only as people, Dora Saves the Snow Princess hd who are in trouble far away.

Thank you for helping us keep our promise to care for and protect our friends around the world.

Allison Glennon
RMF Projects Coordinator

Photos Courtousy of Gev Kazanchyan and Harout Bursayan

Dionicess V: the Best Beer on Earth, the Best Pizza in LA

phpYuaKdZAMOn September 27th, at the infamous CitySip in Echo Park, Real Medicine invites you to relive your college glory days in a manner benefiting the mature adult you are today.

Like a journey into another dimension, Dionicess V transforms drinking beer and eating pizza into an accomplishment worthy of proud display on any social networking or dating site. With all proceeds going to Real Medicine not only does this night of charitable cuisine give you holier-than-thou status for at least a week, you can write it off on your taxes and maybe even put it on your resume. The possibilities are virtually endless. Then again, so are the mind blowing combinations offered for this night of culinary complexity.

For Dionicess V, Gev Kazanchyan, a veritable Match.com for food and beverage, has taken 5 premium beers from SoCal Craft Breweries and, after months of painstaking research, has successfully paired them with 5 gourmet pizzas from Tomato Pie in a line up poised to hijack your senses and smuggle you down to flavor-town on a taste-sensation express. You might want to bring a friend for safety’s sake.

Throw caution and calorie-counting to the wind and help insure the existence of life changing programs around the world by indulging in the decadent delicacies that, many years ago, may very well have fueled your own existence.

Space is limited and tickets are selling fast. Buy yours exclusively online at:

For more information visit www.realmedicinefoundation.org

Here are some reviews from past Dionicess evets:

“It was refreshing to see an event created to fulfill multiple purposes, and in this case everybody benefited.”–Steve Wasser of http://gastrologica.com/

“Charity has to be the best possible reason to drink six craft beers and devour a box of artisanal chocolates. On May 17, Gev Kazanchyan provided that motivation when he hosted Dionicess IV, pairing Stone beer with Mignon Chocolate at Side Bar in Glendale.”–FoodGPS.com