Food: Art of the Table-Beer Dinner
On September 2nd (we’re a bit behind on our blog posts) we went to Art of the Table for another “supper club” dinner. We had been to a previous beer dinner with our friends Kye and Eric, and I was blown away by the beer pairings, and more importantly both Robin and Kye who don’t usually drink some of these more rich types of beers, became fascinated at the potential of beer and food pairing. As soon as we heard another beer dinner was planned we locked in reservations. Dustin Ronspies (the chef) and Laurie O’Donnell hosted us, alongside the passionate beer aficionado Matt Younts for what amounted to another fascinating exploration of beer and food pairing.
We started by opening up with Cider Aspall which was served with a crostini containing peach, Estrella Family Creamery’s Wynochee River Blue. The crisp yet rounded dry cider was like having a glass of sparkling to open a meal, with the peach and blue cheese on the crostini the pairing was perfect.
Next, we had a salad with frisee, arugula, chanterelles, sweet corn, tomme, pancetta and a basil puree. This was paired nicely with a Boulevard Saison. I’ve mentioned before that Boulevard is making some great speciality beer these days, and the Saison Matt brought was a Batch #1, and contains the famous Brettanomyces yeast. This yeast is sometimes considered a terrible consequence of contamination, except in traditional belgian styles or Lambic variations. This slightly spicy, bready, funky Saison from Kansas City paired quite well with the salad, the fatty saltiness of the pancetta, and earthy chanterelles in the salad.
The third course was trout served with hazelnut basil, smoked tomato jam (one of the highlights of the meal to me), and bitter greens. The crispy trout and smoked tomato jam had the great sweet, salty, smokey combo, that was a joy in each bite. The pairing was Hair of the Dog (Portland, OR) Ruth Pale Ale. A pale malty ale with honey, with grassy vegetal notes. The beer did a nice job of letting the complexity of the dish shine.
What might have been the best, or near best beer of the evening was Pliney the Elder (RussianRiver),which is one of the most highly coveted beers in the US (A+ on BeerAdvocate, and nearly every other source gives it top marks). Dustin made us both smile with this dish, which didn’t contain fancy ingredients but was creative, and has inspired Robin and I to look at Chicken wings in a way different way than finger licking andwatching football. Dustin served the wings confit, with curry powder, cilantro cream, on top of a polenta cake with chipotle chile, and topped with frisee. The dish had some heat, but the cream added a nice balance, and the beer really unified the flavors. Pliney the Elder is simply an outstanding beer in every regard. Any serious beer drinker who hasn’t tasted this beer, should seek it out ASAP! It contains a beautifully floral hopped aroma, with a bit of citrus coming through. Initially it tastes much like an IPA but it is balanced so effectively with maltiness, so perfectly, that even those who pucker with a bitter IPA will smile after a gulp. (We took some home with us, because, I wanted a whole bottle for Robin and I, to try again). GO BUY SOME, if you can find it!
The next course was a giant ravioli with confit onions, herbs, port madison goat cheese, rainbow chard, and caramelized fennel. A richly flavored and texture dish. The giant ravioli was beautiful and made us think, “why haven’t we done that before for guests?” They paired the dish with the Lost Abby Inferno Ale (San Marcos, CA). Another beer from a master brewer, which is aged in wood barrels, and has a yeasty belgian profile, with hints of clove and banana alongside a hint of ripe plout. A pairing that cut the rich pasta dish well, although not our favorite pairing of the evening, Lost Abby brings excellent beers to the table!
The final entree dish was a braised goat (24hrs), with red chili, cumin, corriander, 5 spice, roasted cauliflower, curried-pickled turnip slaw. A rustic dish with a contrast of perhaps gamey with pickled and spicy flavor. This was served with the Consecration Ale (10% ABV, Russian River). An extremely rich beer which contained a carmel fig and dried cheery sourness. Another wonderful treat, and the pickled food in this dish was a clever pairing as the rich beer needed something to balance it.
For dessert, we finished with the North Coast Imperial Stout Old Rasputin (Batch 11), which is aged in bourbon barrels, and was served in a coffee cup (you would think it was a cup of coffee, it is that black). Dustin served a fudge tart with, housemade strawberry jam, vanilla bourbon sauce, and huckleberries. Complex, richly textured stouts like the Old Rasputin deserve to be served with desserts, with chocolate, and rich foods. Quite a way to finish a really fun night.
As always: Matt delivered scrolls of passionate knowledge about the beer world, Dustin pausing to hit the gong and humbly explain his creations, and Lorrie quietly served us an evening of fun and experience we eagerly await for…
In you don’t like beer go to Art of the Table for a wine dinner. But, if you might like beer, or think you want to explore your palette in new ways, go to the beer dinner, we’d be willing to bet that you will look at beer in a totally new way, one that will forever change your weekly meals.
Art of the Table
1054 N. 39th Street
Seattle, WA 98103