September 26, 2013

We don't need no stinkin' meat

Last week's beer dinner welcomed a little bit of a different crowd, as Beer Kitchen hosted the Vegetarian Beer Dinner. Even better than the food was the cause the meal benefited. New Roots for Refugees is a wonderful organization that helps refugees start new lives in the Kansas City area. Really, click on that link and read about them, because they're doing fantastic work.
People love the veggie food!
Last year's vegetarian beer dinner was excellent, and I knew that I probably wouldn't be missing the meat. It started with a nice chilled spinach soup with water spinach salad and lemon creme. This small reception dish was a perfectly light start for the dinner, setting us up for a lovely dinner.

The first pairing for the night was miso marinated heirloom tomatoes with red chili mozzarella and Thai basil pesto focaccia with Brouwerij van Steenberge Piraat. The miso added a savory component to a sweet tomato, and the Belgian IPA is just a dang good beer. I like dang good beers. There wasn't a lot of chili spice in the mozzarella, but the classic pairing of tomato and fresh mozzarella is magic.

Up next was a golden and red beet napoleon with feta and Burmese sorrel paired with Contact High from the St. Louis brewers at 4 Hands. I rarely eat beets, but when I do I wonder why I don't eat them more often. They've got a sweet earthy flavor, cut here by a little bit of an acidity in the sorrel and balanced in creamy feta. Contact High is a hoppy, hoppy wheat, so a hint a sweet with bitterness. It all worked so well.

As odd as this may be, I think this next course might have been the first time I've had ratatouille. Accompanying the ratatouille terrine was crispy black truffle polenta and micro greens with a white balsamic gastrique, and another beer from Brouwerij van Steenberge. This time the beer was a favorite, Monk's Cafe. A Flemish sour ale that's on the sweet side, it went wonderfully with the bitterness from the dish. I would eat ratatouille again. In terrine form or otherwise.

The next dish was probably the one that most resembled meat with a portabella-seitan wellington served alongside roasted fingerlings, oyster mushrooms, and a rosemary pan jus. The picture below doesn't do the dish justice... you can't see the portabella seitan inside of the puff pastry. But trust me, it's in there. And it was fantastic. And you can't go wrong with potatoes and mushrooms. Again, trust me. The beer was another from St. Louis, this time Civil Life's American Brown Ale. I'm a big fan of Civil Life, and especially of this beer. It's a great example of a brown ale, and a great choice to compliment the food.

Before the dessert was a nice palate cleanser, watermelon sorbet and marinated melon. Mint and vinegar flavors, very cleansing.

Dessert was a combination of sweet and savory in with kale zeppoli with Calabrian chili honey, and Bell's Oarsman brought a light tartness. A zeppole is kind of like an Italian doughnut. So, this was kind of like a kale doughnut. I'm not big on kale by itself, but I am big on doughnuts covered in powdered sugar. And honey. The Berliner Weisse was light and kept the dessert from beginning too heavy.

Another successful dinner! One of the great things about going to the beer dinners is getting to try a wide variety of foods with first class beer, and this was no exception. The chefs showed meat is optional!

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