This past weekend I was graciously invited to attend my first ever Chef’s Table Dinner at The Garlic Poet. This particular evening was a craft beer pairing dinner featuring Chef Kurt Wewer’s specially designed dishes containing and paired with Liquid Hero Brewing‘s beers. While at the event I learned that Kurt is a home brewer himself, giving him a bit of an advantage in truly knowing the hops and malts in a beer and how they all work together to create a flavor, and in turn, what foods they would match with well. While I touched upon the menu and pairings briefly in my earlier post about the event, I think you really need to see this food to understand how delicious it was. Warning: FOOD PORN AHEAD!
Course 1: Grilled Baby Octopus paired with Heroweizen
So this was the course I was most excited about. The baby octopus was marinated and grilled using a blood-orange chipotle vinaigrette then nested in dandelion greens and served with the vinaigrette as a dressing and topped with pansies. I had never had octopus before this and have decided that it definitely isn’t my thing. The salad itself was fantastic and the dressing as well, but I just couldn’t get past the octopus. I am, however, glad to say that I tried it.
Course 2: Charcuterie Plate paired with Imperial Stout
This charcuterie plate featured house-made lemon-fennel pork belly sausage, Fourmet d’Ambert blue cheese, citrus and cascade hop infused fig jam, pickled mixed vegetables, grilled ale focaccia, and house made whole grain mustard. My favorites on were combining the cheese with the focaccia and bit of the jam for a sweet and tangy combination that somehow paired perfectly with the dark and roasted stout.
Course 3: Osso Bucco paired with American Hero Lager
On to my favorite course of all – the meat course! This organic grass-fed Scottish Highland osso bucco was braised in juniper infused ragu made with Liquid Hero’s Heroweizen. It needs no sides, it needs no further introduction, it is meat and awesome. I found it to be incredibly tender and juicy and wanted to marry it. The pairing of this with the lager, as opposed to a stout as most beef is, made a perfect blend of weighting. The meal was heavy and the beer was lighter which avoided that bogged down feeling you can get after a big ass steak and a big ass stout.
We also were given straws to suck the marrow out of the center bone, a new thing for me, which I was anxious to try. I am pleased to say that it was incredibly delicious with a flavor difficult to describe.
Course 4: Mango Ice Cream and Crepes paired with Irregardless IPA
Prepare your minds and mouths for this flavor combination: fresno chili crepes, homemade mango ice cream topped with vanilla cascade hop candy. Yes, yes, YES! The hint of heat from the crepes perfectly matched with the sweetness of the mango ice cream. I ate the hop candy first as I couldn’t resist, it’s one of my favorite things on earth. My only drawback on this pairing was that the sweetness of the dessert made the IPA seem all that more bitter in comparison. I elected to eat the dessert in full first, drink a quick glass of water to palate cleanse, and then drink the beer which had a more favorable result.
All-in-all, after attending my first chef’s table dinner I have to say I am impressed. Kurt certainly knows his stuff and is definitely an under-the-radar success for the restaurant. Liquid Hero’s beers never disappoint, so the pairing of the two made perfect sense. Look for more beer pairings in the future featuring more local favorites such as Roy Pitz, Troegs, Du Claw, and even Great Lakes.