September 18, 2012

Remembering the night that was: The Local Pig Beer Dinner

A very full Beer Kitchen played host to September's beer dinner last night - a six-course meal prepared by Local Pig's Chef Alex Pope. It was fantastic. I know I say it after every dinner, but I promise, it doesn't make it any less true.

If you're not familiar Local Pig, you should be. Alex Pope opened the charcuterie early in 2012, with an emphasis on local products. In addition to the ever-changing meat offerings, the store offers premium spices, a butcher box subscription (spots fill up in a hurry, so if you see an opening announced, act quickly!), and classes on breaking down whole animals and making your own meats. And everyone at the shop is a beer lover! If you're a home brewer, you can trade some of your beers for sausages. I believe there's a limit of six at once, but that's unofficial, so don't hold me to it.

That's a little look into why this dinner was so enticing, and sold out in a hurry. Now, a course-by-course breakdown of the dinner, with some of the tunes that came on during the meal, a la my write-up of the Green Dirt Farm dinner (what can I say, when I find a gimmick I like, I'm not afraid to return to it. Plus, the music was great. And apologies for any ads that might play before the songs).

(EDIT: YouTube got all clever and changed the minimum size requirements for the players. I think. My eyes may be too tired and I may not know enough to know any different. So now the players are slightly bigger, but the music's still there!)

First Course

Beer: Stillwater Debutante
Food: dry-aged beef tartare / slow-roasted tomatoes / green dirt farm cheese / gaufrettes
Song: The xx - "Intro" -

Much like the last time I did this, a song during the first course was a little "on-the-nose," but it's a song from one of my favorite groups. So, yeah. I love beef tartare. It's raw meat, what's not to love? This course had a couple familiar components - heirloom tomatoes from Kurlbaum's, and cheese from Green Dirt Farms. An unfamiliar part was the "gaufrette." Turns out it's a thin, fried potato wafer. Kind of like a fancy ridged potato chip.

This beer was a little sweet, little tart, and a lot delicious. Stillwater is a "gypsy brewery," meaning that they don't have their own commercial space, but travel to different breweries to make their beer, and generally focus on saisons. (Another such brewery is Mikkeller, who has made collaborations with Stillwater. One of these collaborations, Our Side, is currently on tap at The Foundry!) Debutante is brewed with spelt, honeysuckle, and a host of other spices, giving it a some funk, while staying true to the saison style. And it went well with everything happening in the dish. The crispy gaufrettes, smooth cheese, and tender beef and tomatoes combined for a wonderful and adventurous intro to the meal.

Second Course

Beer: Crabtree Ginger Bee
Food: coppa / sweet corn bread / soy-braised shiitake / red pepper custard / fennel
Song: David Bowie - "Ziggy Stardust" -

The song is unrelated to the course, other than it played during said course. And I like the song a lot. There you go.

I made a slight mistake in not featuring the coppa in the photo, but I was in hurry to eat it. Plus, I'm not the world's be photographer, if you haven't noticed. . . It's laying on top of the shiitake/fennel and sweet corn bread there, towards the top. What's a coppa? Similar to ham, and this particular version included orange peel, toasted cloves, and sage. It was a salty component to go with the sweet corn bread. For me, though, the star was the soy-braised shiitake. I love mushrooms.

The Ginger Bee brought out a lot of the citrus flavors from the coppa. It's a blonde ale, with, as you may surmise from the name, ginger and honey. This has been the only beer I've had from Colorado's Crabtree Brewing, and I'm looking forward to trying more. It was easy to drink, with the ginger as the main attraction, and honey coming in towards the back end.

Third Course

Beer: Deschutes Chainbreaker
Food: chorizo verde, grilled scallions, and almonds in phyllo / kale & berber vinaigrette
Song: MGMT - "Time to Pretend" -

This song fits. I promise. If only in my head. You see, a fellow diner described this next dish as an "egg roll for grownups." So you see, it's like it's time to pretend. Either we're kids pretending we're eating grownup food, or grownups reminiscing to knucklehead times. I was probably a few beers in when this theory came to me, but I think it's just as valid.

The chorizo verde was very, very good. It seemed to have a hint of curry somewhere in it, but it could have been a combination of flavors tricking me. And then there's the kale. I know people love it, and rave over it, but it's not for me. Too bitter or something. I still cleaned my plate, because it worked in the dish, but if I were to pick nits, that's where this one slacked a little. I don't have any suggestions for anything I'd like in it's place, because I'm not knowledgeable in the area.

Chainbreaker is a white IPA, similar to the collaboration Deschutes did with Boulevard in 2011. Floral, kinda hoppy, kinda Belgian-y, kinda wheaty, with citrus and coriander. I like this beer a lot, especially with this dish.

Fourth Course

Beer: Hofstetten Granitbock
Food: manchego-stuffed pork chop / smoked sauerkraut / butternut / dry-hopped honey / apples
Song: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Maps" -

Wait, pork chop. They don't love you like I love you. Smoked sauerkraut, you too.

I thought the presentation of this dish was beautiful, and quite clever. Looks a little like cheese slices on top, right? On a pork chop? WRONG, that's some butternut squash! Then there's the classic pork/apple pairing. And the dry-hopped honey, which was definitely hoppy. Below the chop is the smoked sauerkraut, and then bigger slice of the squash. Kind of lost in all of this is the manchego cheese, stuffed into the chop. When I noticed saw it and remembered it was there, it was great. But, with everything else happening here, maybe unnecessary. Who am I kidding. . . cheese is always welcome.

Let me take this moment to bring the focus to the sauerkraut. Chef Pope mentioned that he'd like the shop to get into more things pickled, and I applaud them. I love all things pickled. And this smoked sauerkraut was a revelation. I want all sauerkraut to be smoked. It tied in with the other elements of the plate so well.

This beer was a first for me. It's brewed in large granite troughs, and heated with white-hot granite rocks. This process gives the style of beer it's name - a stein beer, stein being German for "stone." And I imagine it contributes to the "Granitbock" name as well. The hot rocks caramelize the sugars in the wort, carrying through into the flavor. So we have sweet, smoky, and sour all represented here. Magnificent.

Fifth Course

Beer: Contreras Valier Extra
Food: whipped blue cheese / beet pie / pickled melon rind relish / balsamic
Song: Built to Spill - "Strange" -

Continuing a theme, I LOVE Built to Spill. One of my favorite bands. And hey, beet pie? Strange, yeah? But whoa. Whoa.

I believe it was the esteemed Jeremy Danner who said the pie tasted like a bizarro pumpkin pie, and I can't think of a better way to describe it. It had the sweet earthy flavors of a beet, and it worked. (In my notes, I have "Like Coen Brothers" written, but I don't exactly remember how that fit in. Maybe that it looked kinda bloody, had some underlying themes and was a parable for something, and was, by all accounts, great.) The pickling that I mentioned in the last course? Works just as well on melon rinds as it does on cabbage. It was sort of like a chunky applesauce, then the whipped blue cheese acted as whipped cream. So we've got bizarro pumpkin pie with bizarro applesauce and bizarro whipped cream. I'M SOLD.

To be honest, the Contreras Valier Extra was the least remarkable beer out of the bunch. That's not to say it was bad, but it didn't stand out. It's a Belgian beer, with the typical Belgian characteristics. My focus here, however, was the pie. And that would be shortly replaced by. . .

Sixth Course

Beer: McCoy's Monsoon Indian Malabar Brown
Food: pretzel bread pudding / morita white chocolate ice cream / rosemary pecans / roasted pear
Song: It's a tie!!!!
Talking Heads - "Psycho Killer" -
Weezer - "In the Garage" -

If I were to make a list of all-time favorite bands, these two bands would be on there, without question. And if I had to make a list of all-time favorite dessert foods (why are you making me make so many lists, and so specific?!), bread pudding would be on there. This was probably the best bread pudding I've had, without any exaggeration.

Pretzel bread! Locally made pretzel bread! Chef Pope used Farm-to-Market pretzel rolls for this dish, keeping the local theme alive. Oh. My. I think everyone was full at this point, but you couldn't set enough of this in front of me. I would've eaten it all. A bite with each component was magic. The ice cream used morita - kind of like a spicier version of a chipotle pepper - so it had some heat. On its own, it was a little much. With everything else, it was heaven. As I said, I love bread pudding. I also love pecans, ice cream, and pears. I had no chance.

And the beer. Oh. This is a special brew from McCoy's. It's the Hog Pound Brown, brewed with coffee. Monsoon Indian Malabar coffee. These beans are aged two years, left open to the elements of monsoon weather. This gives the beans a milder flavor, more earthy and nutty. The roasted flavors of the brown ale are heightened by the beans. For this dinner, there was even an added bonus. It was given a sweetening with maple syrup (sweetened the deal. Ha!). An amazing end to an amazing meal.

Chef Alex Pope created a fantastic menu, and Randyl provided the beers to match. Missed out? Well your next chance will be coming up on October 22, when Beer Kitchen will have an Oktoberfest-themed dinner! I'll put details for the dinner and more events up on the blog in the coming days, but tickets are available now! $50 for a five-course meal, tax and gratuity included. Call 816-389-4180 to make your reservation!

1 comment:

  1. Well done! You did a wonderful job of describing each course. The pork chop and tartare were the outstanding dishes for me, and as you mentioned the smoked sauerkraut was off the hook. Completely agree the Contreras was the least exciting beer. Randyl did a great job pairing! Wonderful dinner and if you like beer and food you need to attend a Beer Kitchen Beer Dinner!