July 24, 2012

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato (doesn't really work in text)

Last night's beer dinner featuring Kurlbaum's heirloom tomatoes was a great success!!  Five courses of some of the best tomatoes you can get in Kansas City in delicious dishes, paired with fantastic beers.

Sky, Liz, and Sally were in attendance representing the farm, telling the fellow diners about their farm and the tomatoes used in the dishes.  There were some great facts about heirloom tomatoes, and the Kurlbaum farm.  They have a dry farm - meaning they don't use any irrigation, only rain - and 43 different varieties of tomatoes.  The hot, dry summer has actually helped produce some of the best tomatoes they've had.  And heirloom tomato seeds can be traced back hundreds of years.  Very cool.

Onto the meal.

The first course paired agnolotti & warm lump crab in a crunchy broth, smoked trout ricotta, and Juanne Flame tomatoes.  The tomato was filled with the smoked trout ricotta and bits of sea salt.  The sweet, smoky, and salty flavors blended perfectly!  And the agnolotti (sort of like a ravioli) with the lump crab and crunchy broth was delicious.  All of it went well with the sweeter Tripel Kermeliet.  A great start to the dinner!

Next was one I was really looking forward to - ginger pork belly, iceberg lettuce, and mayo (pictured on the right) and a short stack with pancetta.  The tomato rounding out the fanciest BLT I've ever had was the Gold Medal, and Nebraska Brewing Co.'s Apricot au Poivre tied it all together.  So good.  A sweeter tomato, the Gold Medal was perfect for the saltier pork belly.  Then, the savory and sweet short stack provided a nice contrast.  Apricot au Poivre is a great beer for this course.  It's sweet, with a good spice from black pepper used in the brewing.  I would have so much more of everything in this course.  Like, a full sandwich, the size of my face.  Two or three of them.  I would eat all of it.

The third course brought us the Cherokee Purple tomato charred & chilled and served as a sort of soup, with a seared day boat scallop and lobster cream. YUM. I love scallops, I love lobster, and I may love this tomato. It's got a smoky flavor. It worked well with the cream and seared scallop. The Odell Double Pilsner held up well with the dish. Fuller bodied, sweet malt with a good hop backing. Smooth. Like the dish.

A Brandywine tomato wedge with Maytag blue cheese and a tomato jerky might have been my favorite use of tomato on the night.  It was fairly straightforward, but with high quality ingredients, you don't need much.  Then with the smoked marrow emulsion and the braised beef toast, this was a great course.  New Belgium's Belgo is a good beer.  The hops may have been a bit strong for the more delicate flavors of the tomato wedge portion, but I think the beef toast and emulsion had enough backing to keep up with the beer.

Finally, dessert.  A cobbler featuring a Chocolate Striped tomato, topped with a Hillbilly Potato Leaf "frozen & spun" ice cream.  It sounds a little strange, but it actually worked really well, especially getting a bite of the ice cream and cobbler together.  The cobbler was better on its own than the ice cream, but it was impressive work to make a tasty sweet treat out from the tomatoes.  The beer pairing, Ommegang Witte, was a nice, light way to finish the meal.

Yes, a great, great meal.  Once again, Chef Michael Peterson created a fantastic menu.  I'm already looking forward to the next one!  Keep an eye out for the date and menu for the August beer dinner - it'll be our annual vegetarian meal!  Cheers

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