I have to admit, after a very dry spell, I’ve actually been having a little culinary fun lately. Last Friday, I was treated to an exceptional meal at Le Bec Fin—a cozy table for two, the royal treatment, and one decadent bite after another, with escargot and foie gras all in one sitting. And after yesterday’s Dogfish Head-infused seven-course meal at Teresa’s Next Door, it’s foie gras twice in one week.
Dogfish Tasty Tuesday panned out well for me—and for its masterminds, Sam Calagione, Andy Dickerson and Michael Ellis. Andy and Michael are co-owners of Teresa’s Next Door, and Sam is Dogfish Head’s lauded brewmaster and the author of He Said Beer, She Said Wine (written with Philly’s own Marnie Old). Calagione made the short drive up from Delaware to spend some time sippin’ suds with the region’s beer geeks. (With two events in the afternoon and evening, I’m hoping he didn’t make the drive home.)
Tasty Tuesday was just one of the many Beer Week 2009 events on tap through March 15, locally and in the city. This was my first foray into the Beer Week phenomenon, and I have to say, I don’t think I could make it past two days. Sly Fox’s—and the region’s—favorite beer lass, Suzanne Woods, was also in the house (and nicely did a spot for Main Line Today on NBC’s 10! Show this morning). Even she admitted she was close to crying, “Uncle.”
She’s about 20 years my junior, so even if she felt worn out, she looked smashing. Her mission yesterday was to rejoice in a variety of Dogfish Head brews in the company of the ladies’ beer group she escorts around the region’s brewpubs. One of these days I’m going out with her to see what the I.P.A. (aka “In Pursuit of Ale”) girls are all about. Maybe if some of you gals out there e-mail me, I can coax Woods into taking us on a beer crawl and teaching us a thing or two. (If you’re interested in joining or finding out just what Woods has to say about beer, visit beerlass.com.)
Now, I’ve written about this cult happening aplenty, but until today, I’d yet to experience even one iota of Beer Week madness. And a lunchtime beer-and-food pairing was certainly a novel idea. I mean, in a down economy, who doesn’t need a midday pick-me-up?
For someone used to wolfing down leftovers in front of my computer, sitting down to these seven innovative amalgamations was heaven: deviled quail eggs (so cute!) with tomato-carrot soup and crunchy GruyÃ¨re toast, paired with our first beer, Aprihop; a lovely crostini made with poached foie gras, rolled in pralines and napped with a juniper-maple syrup, that also had a little vanilla bean and scotch, perfectly paired with the frisky and smoky Immort Ale; baby arugula and baby green leaf, blood oranges, ginger-roasted beets and lavender-candied fennel, all laced in a mild, slightly sweet hop-malt vinaigrette and served with spicy, ginger-loaded Pangaea (a word that describes our land mass before it broke into seven continents, aka Calagione’s attempt to “put the world back together in liquid form”); plus Black and Blue Porelkbit (Teresa’s Next Door’s version of turducken), a crazy yet clever roulade of rabbit loin, wrapped in pork loin, wrapped in elk loin, all wrapped in salty speck and served on top of a generous bed of shredded duck leg barsotto (barley) with just a hint of black- and blueberry sauce (the Black and Blue is the beer).
Next up was a potent Fort Sorbet, a brisk dessert of bourbon-vanilla gelato and a crunchy Hopperdoodle Crisp. I forgot to ask, but the icy and high-octane topping tasted like a bourbon granita to me. It certainly had a kick!
Hard to believe, but we dug into two more courses. First up was Red White, a lovely cheese course with some very interesting fruit “salumi”—or as Dickerson likes to call them, “Fruit Roll-Ups for adults.” There were three types, and all had their own unique texture and flavor. My favorite was the fig-walnut. Apparently, they’re made in-house and allowed to hang in the basement for a month. All three paired well with the cheese selection: Prima Donna, creamy La Tur (forget brie or Camembert), and Blue de Basque (if you like mild blues, you’ll love this). The beer: Red White.
And for the grand finale: a hop “snack plate” paired with Palo Santo Marron—a super, Ã¼ber yummy stoudt-porter-like brew with hints of chocolate and licorice. The snacks were a thin rectangle of gelatinous milk (sounds weird, and it kind of was; but I despise milk, so don’t go by me), a hunk of barley-brittle and a gooey, chocolatey brownie. (After tasting several kinds of barley at Sly Fox Brewery, I’ve decided it would make a great addition to cereal.)
I ate almost everything, but I only took a couple of sips from each beer. Others, however, were far braver and, after two-plus hours of gorging, trekked over to Matt Guyer’s Beer Yard to crack open a few cases and drink some more.
Me? I went to the gym.
Summer flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%
Limited time offer. New subscribers only.