This is a good read folks. One of the most eye-opening and gastronomically marvelous tastings I have ever timidly attended...Why, you ask? Well...as a gal who hasn't really eaten meat since 1993 (um yes, that's 17 years!), this was a MAJOR step outside the box for me. But I knew if there was anyone I could trust my tummy to it was Chef Alex Carballo, and if anyone would prepare an incredibly attentive pairing it would be undoubtedly Dr. Bill. So I felt confident I was in good hands, and in true extreme Laurie form, I figured, if I'm gonna do it, might as well go BIG. Or is that PIG? And so I did. Without further ado, I give you For the Love of Pork, a Masterpairings tasting:
Charcuterie paired with Brouwerj Smisje t'Smisje Wostynje, 7% ABV:It's a good thing I'm not reading this to you aloud. That beer name is a tongue-twister! What an incredible beginning to this utterly decadent evening. Check out this lineup:
- Pâté en Croute -wonderful fall flavors, reminds me of Thanksgiving stuffing! Delicious mix of textures
- Pigs Feet Torchon -surprising delicious with an interesting cinnamon and spice aspect
- Mortadella -great nutty offset with the pistachio against the mild mannered pork
- Andouille Sausage -hey this is a New Orleans staple! Always a good choice
- Chorizo Sausage -nice and spicy, a great counterpoint to the other offerings
- Proscuitto -oh my buttery deliciousness! It is wonderful. Literally like butta.
The beer: What an interesting nose! Spice, peppercorn, and an array of unidentifiable spices. Think of standing in an Indian or Moroccan spice market. That's what comes to mind. Produced in fact, with mustard seed, the spices of the beer pair beautifully with the various meats. At times refreshing to the spice, other times seamlessly melding, this beer is the perfect introduction to the evening.
Menudo (Not the band, folks! Instead: Pigs feet, tripe, hominy, and cabbage salad) paired with Dogfish Head Sahtea, 9% ABV: Whoa. I have never had, nor honestly had the desire to have tripe before, but I am a brave girl. And I watch alot of Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern. I figure, if he can eat crickets, bull testicles, and rotting fish, I can certainly handle a little pig stomach. Right?...Right?
Ok, here we go...Hmm definitely a distinct earthiness here, a true "of the earth" taste profile. Meaning very real, unmasked, simple flavors without any bells, whistles, or flashing lights. I like that. This is a beautiful pairing. In both directions, the flavors are a bit too much for me on their own.
When I first tasted the beer, my first comment was "Holy spice rack..." A sensory onslaught of chai, cardamon pods, cinnamon, anise, and others. And indeed, it is made with cardamon, coriander, juniper, and black tea. This Dogfish Head offering has a wonderful autumnal quality. You literally feel like you could heat it, and drink it on a blustery fall afternoon!
What makes this such a wonderful pairing is the balance that is achieved on both sides when the two are paired together. What might be considered overwhelming in the beer or soup becomes a highlight to its counterpart. This is truly an example of food and beer perfectly playing off of each other.
Pork Cheek with Black Mission Fig, frisee, Roquefort Papillon bleu cheese, and honey paired with Liefmans Goudenband 2005: One of my favorite dishes on the night! The cheek was unbelievably tender, and with the fig and bleu cheese? A bite of gastronomic joy....
What a delicious beer and incredible treat for us. Standing alone, it was an experience, but was simply stunning with the dish in 3 distinct ways: with the cheek, the sweetness of the plum, fig, and winter fruits emerged; with the fig, the earthiness and oakiness of the barrel came into relief; and with the saltiness of the bleu cheese, the beer gained lovely balance and smoothness. Incredible pairing.
(When was the last time you had a 3-part entree?) Score!
Braised Port Belly with Mushroom and Onion Confit paired with Rochefort 8, 9.2% ABV:I just going to go ahead in put this in capital letters: This was INSANELY GOOD. My favorite of the night, hands down. The cinnamon, clove, brown sugar, and port sweetness (a port gastrique was used) brings out the herbs in the beer. Absolutely lovely and divine.
Pork Pot Roast paired with Paulaner Salvator, 7.9%:This is a curl up, under a blanket kind of meal. Warm and comforting, the earthy, peppery notes of the stew counter the glazed sweetness of the Dopplebock. The beer has lovely aspects of dried apricot, tree fruit, fresh herbs.
Wild Boar Baby Back Ribs braised in Stone Smoked Porter and Stone Levitation Ale paired with Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard, 7.2% ABV: I just love this beer. Over and over, each time I have it, I think it makes a simply wonderful pair to food. This pairing screams Americana. Standing over a grill on a July afternoon, the air filled with that smokey sweetness of ribs cooking. Yet another flawless pairing, in such a different way from every other offering of the evening.
Rice Pudding with White & Black Truffle paired with Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus Bier Helles, 14% ABV:Truly one of the most incredible desserts in my life. And my sweet tooth oughta know. I KNOW it sounds bizzare, and even unappetizing to some, but BELIEVE me, it was incredible. And I have never been a rice pudding fan. I think it's just plain weird.
But if you read my review of Andrew and Bill's Beer and Chocolate tasting (CLICK HERE), you also know that I have the upmost faith in Andrew as one of the most innovative and brilliant pastry chefs I have ever had the pleasure to meet. So there.
The beer was dangerously and fantastically delicious with the dessert. The graham cracker, honey, candied sugar notes of the Samichlaus paired beautifully with the anise and cinnamon aspects of the pudding. That earthiness provided by the truffles(yes, mushrooms guys!) provided a complex offset to the sweetness, and you truly felt as if every part of your senses was peaked. I say again, BRILLIANT.
Yet another incredible Masterpairings from Dr. Bill, Alex, and Andrew. My greatest thanks to them for an unforgettable and gastronomically stunning evening. If you live within 2 hours of Stone Brewing Co, FIND A WAY to get to one of these tastings.