Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beer dinner

I attended my first “beer dinner” yesterday. It took quite a period of time from having my interest piqued to actually going to one. Sure it may be the hipster thing to do but I can tell you one thing. It was awesome.

The beers were used to cook- er… wait, prepare- the food. A glass of roughly 4 ounces accompanied each course. And as expected, they worked out very well.

Rather than try to explain them all, let me pilfer the menu itself from the St. Francis Brewery. My thoughts follow their description.

Course 1

We start our tour in Jolly Ole England where we will enjoy a bowl of Smoked Porter Beef Barley Soup. Delicious choice cuts of beef and vegetables simmered in a smoky porter, finished with tender barley. This soup will be paired with our “Smokey the Beer” Smoked Porter. Excellent way to start the meal. The porter was prominent in the broth, giving it a rich, hearty feel. The beer holds up in its own right. Smokey aroma, pleasant taste. I wanted more.

Course 2

Next, let’s head eastward to Deutchland and sample some of Germany’s finest sausage. Here you will enjoy a Maibock Sausage Plate: a weissewurst and a bratwurst slowly simmered in Maibock beer with a special Maibock mustard. Enjoy your wurst with a glass of, you guessed it, Maibock. The wurst was ok. It was cold when I got to eating it. I don’t blame the waitstaff as I was busy talking. The chef wasn't happy with how the mustard settled. Yes it was a bit runny like he said but it packed some great flavor. The Maibock was excellent. Smooth, carmelly. I wanted more and got more when they graciously served me a second glass!

Course 3

Our trip takes a Westerly dip to the unique land of Belgium. Here, we’ll lighten things up a bit with a delicate Grilled Belgian Endive Salad: Grilled Belgian endive served with a citrus Belgian wit vinaigrette, orange segments, grapefruit segments and candied walnuts. This salad will pair nicely with our citrusy Belgian Wit Beer. I hadn’t had endive before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Especially when it was paired with some grapefruit, not one of my favored citrus fruits. They chef wasn’t sure about this course either. He said he had never cooked prepared endive before. He thought it was bitter, but it wasn’t . The Belgian Wit was ok. Could use some more body in my opinion.

Course 4

Aye, let’s go back North to the rolling hills of Scotland. Here you’ll have a country classic Cassoulet made with duck legs, sausage, vegetables, tomato, scotch strong ale, white beans, herbs and bread crumbs. This hearty plate wouldn’t be complete without an equally hearty ale: our Scotch Strong Ale. WOW! What can I say beside WOW! The duck leg was tender and moist. The white beans were flavorful having spent 72 hours soaking in the Scotch Ale. This is a dish I would easily go back for. Especially with the Scotch Ale on the side. Slightly on the heavy side (as it should be) it had the flavors that not only went with the meal but danced on your tongue. Yes, I said danced on your tongue. This alone was worth the price of admission.

Course 5

And finally, we’ll end our tour in the mystical Emerald Isle: Ireland. Cap off your evening with a daring, yet delicious dessert—an Oatmeal Stout Float. We take vanilla ice cream, add our oatmeal stout, a drizzle of raspberry chambord liqueur, some whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Easily one of those items you think wouldn’t work but deliciously does. The stout takes on the root beer role and provides a smooth creamy taste with the ice cream. A great way to end the dinner.

One thing that kind of surprised me throughout the evening was the chef. He does an excellent job. But the one thing that jumped out at me was how humble he was. Maybe it’s the whole TV chef image from all the reality shows. Chef Ron was nothing like that. He was honest and forthright about his meals. He didn’t come off as cocky or arrogant like I seen on the boob tube. He was given a challenge by the brewmaster, accepted it, and hit it out of the park. Bottom line was he made one awesome meal. I look forward to the next time I eat at the St. Francis Brewery.