I have a really good group of friends that happen to love good food and even better beer. We’ve gotten together a few times in the past for “pairing dinners,” in which we’ve each brought a dish (or two) to be paired with a specific adult beverage. The first time we ever did this (back before I was blogging), we focused solely on pairing food with wine. Last February, we had another pairing dinner and chose to have beer be the star. That dinner was so good, and we finally did it again this past Saturday night. For the last dinner, there were just three couples and we each created two dishes. That ended up being a lot of food, so we decided to just stick to one dish each this time. That ended up being a good idea, because we had two more couples join us (which meant two more courses!).
Since Greg and I had created the beer advent calendar for December, we thought it would be fun to base our recipe off of the beer that was already chosen for that day. And that happened to be Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout. Naturally, we chose dessert. And I’ll be honest here- I wasn’t totally original or creative. I actually looked up Brooklyn Brewery’s website to see if there were any suggested beer pairings, and there was just one. And that’s what I made.
Our hosts, Michelle and Zack had nuts, olives, crackers and hummus for us to snack on. Zack brews his own (award winning!) beer, and actually has 6 different beers on tap! They have an actual BEER ROOM that attaches to their kitchen from outside of the house!! They were in charge of the first course…
Salads with either steak or grilled portabello mushrooms, crispy onions and homemade blue cheese dressing. I am generally not a fan of blue cheese at all, but this was great! The salad was so simple, but had so much flavor- that’s my favorite type of dish!
Holy crap, I need to make these at home. This was from James & Jenny- a tart (made of puff pastry) with butternut squash, goat cheese, and lemon rind. It paired perfectly with this hefeweizen, which brought out the citrus notes.
Italian crabcakes from Ray & Siobahn. Most of us are native Marylanders, and we are particular about our crabcakes. Nothing fancy needed- mostly meat and a little bit of breadcrumbs and seasoning is perfect. However, these were to die for! They had Italian seasonings, herbs, carrots, and I don’t know what else- but they were wonderful. AND- the cocktail sauce. I never, ever use cocktail sauce on seafood- but I could have eaten this by the bowlful! Cocktail sauce is usually ketchup + horseradish. Instead of ketchup, this had marinara. Brilliant!
Beer floats from me & Greg. First, we poured a little chocolate stout into each cup. Then, a scoop of vanilla ice cream was added on top of that, followed by shavings of chili-infused dark chocolate. There was also a chocolate chip biscuit-type cookie in there. The combination was delicious!!
Another beer float- but this one was actually quite different! Apparently Malcolm & Gudren were on the same wavelength as Greg and I with the float idea, but no one complained one bit! They brought two different beers to try with vanilla ice cream- and we discovered that when you put both together, magical things happen.
It was SUCH a good night- so much good food, great beer and lots and lots of laughs. I can’t wait to do it again! (We’re still talking about doing a tequila pairing dinner…)
Have you ever been to a pairing dinner? What’s your favorite pairing?