Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baby's First Beer Dinner

Beer is not my only love. Anyone who has been acquainted with me for longer than a year knows that I harbor a secret ambition.   My greatest aspiration in life is to become the next Adam Richman, or at least his personal assistant (If you are reading this, Adam, we have a beer challenge here that NO ONE has beaten yet).  There is something about the concept of Man V. Food that appeals to me on about thirty different levels.  I don't know if it is the massive quantities of food (awesome) or the varieties of deliciousness that he gets to consume (super awesome), but all I want out of life is a chance to prove how much I LOVE food too.  That is one of the reasons why my first beer dinner, last Wednesday, excited me so much (I am imagining my mother putting a picture from this occasion in my baby book under the statement "Baby's First Beer Dinner").

Adam Richman -- My celebrity crush
One of the events that people come across quite often in the brewing industry is the ever piquant beer dinner.  This is an opportunity for restaurants to combine the two most delicious things ever invented, food and beer, in a way that opens the diner's eyes to a whole new experience.  Many restaurants will use the beer dinner to break away from their normal menu and experiment with flavors and ingredients that fall outside their usual offerings.  They then choose to highlight either one particular brewery or  many different companies.  When a single brewery is offered a beer dinner hosting gig, the restaurant will often send staff members to the brewery to sample all of the beers, while making pairing decisions with the input of the brewers.  Then, on the day of the event, either the brewer or one of the other brewery experts will speak on the chosen beers at the dinner, generally between courses. I HIGHLY recommend this experience to anyone who loves food and beer.

On Wednesday, the chosen locale for the beer dinner was Roma -- the very restaurant where I first made the awkward acquaintance of my new coworkers.  I was super excited, as the wine dinner there last month impressed me so much AND I am kind of the biggest fan of their staff.

I arrived there shortly before the dinner began with the intention of helping Britt arrange some of our marketing materials on the tables.  As usual, she was four steps ahead of me. Everything was in order when I walked through the door.

Was there ever a more beautiful sight?
The dinner commenced with the ONE menu item I did not take a picture of (probably because I was starving and devoured it instantaneously); the seared scallop with white bean salsa.  This was combined with GiGi's Farmhouse Ale. I was BEYOND ecstatic.  For starters, it was THE MOST DELICIOUS PAIRING EVER.  The white bean salsa had a little bit of mustard in it, which complemented the mellow taste of the ale to perfection.  I hesitate to admit my initial bias toward this course, but scallops and GiGi are both some of my favorite things (I am currently imagining Julie Andrews singing that).

The second course was an asparagus bisque with white truffle butter poached shrimp.  Helles Lager was paired with this and it was very good.  The crisp taste of the lager complimented the salty, creaminess of the bisque.  When I said that the previous course was my favorite, I had not yet tried this. (I apologize for the pictures, my camera is abysmal.)

Asparagus Bisque
When the Brew Master tried the next course, he made the unequivocal statement that he would never eat any goat cheese but fried goat cheese again in his life.  I must second that opinion.  If you have not tried fried goat cheese, you have not lived (I am fairly certain that is a direct quote from Thoreau).   Technically titled a "goat cheese fritter" and garnished with citrus vinaigrette and micro greens, this crispy, tangy, flavor explosion was made 72% more enjoyable when consumed with Wisteria Wheat.  The subtle clove and chamomile flavors in the Wisteria Wheat danced across my palate, enhancing the vinaigrette atop the fritter.  This was my favorite dish at the conclusion of this course.

Goat Cheese Fritter

The final real food course (not to be confused with fake food: i.e., dessert) was a short rib slider, perched atop a brioche roll, and liberally decorated with shallots, bleu cheese, and tomato jam.  The Doppelbock was chosen to accompany this treat.  The caramel undertones of the Doppelbock paired perfectly with the savory slider.

Short Rib Slider
Dessert followed hard upon (I have been reading Shakespeare lately.  Forsooth, my language reflects that).  Now, more than anything in life, I am a dessert person.  I hesitate to call myself a future diabetic, but it may be true; my great-grandfather was a diabetic dentist.  For dessert, Roma paired cinnamon donuts with espresso ganache and Oak Barrel Stout.  It was fried perfection. The espresso ganache cascaded my taste buds and contrasted with the semi-sweet donuts; the vanilla undertones and oak chips in the stout juxtaposed the decadence of the dessert.

Donuty Goodness
In many ways, this dinner reminded me of the line from the movie Office Space (except the opposite) -- Every single course was better than any one before it.  So that means that every course was the best course of my life.

Mr. Richman, if you are reading this.  I think I just proved that I love food as much as you do.

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