Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Pairing Dinner to Remember - Featuring Cider

Last night was one of the most outstanding pairing dinners I've been to and yet I have not a single picture of the meal to share. Maybe that's not a bad thing although the dessert and third courses were certainly as much a feast for the eyes as for the mouth.

If you can get past the lack of foodporn I'll do my best to use my words to tell you about this first ever pairing dinner held at the Alberta Street Pub. They teamed up with Reverend Nat's, makers of some of the best cider being produced anywhere, for an intimate meal.

Sacrilege Sour Cherry with Fernet & Sour Cherry-Glazed Hazelnuts
Not only is this a beautiful cider to look at, it's absolutely delicious to drink and complimented the hazelnuts wonderfully. The glaze, made with a reduction of the cider, was slightly sweet and while it worked I'm curious as to how roasted, salted hazelnuts would be with the cider. It's something I may have to explore as I will most certainly look to enjoy more of this cider, which according to Nat this version is slightly different from past batches and will be the recipe going forward. Yum!

Tepache with Guajillo Chile Braised Pork Cheek Tacos
I generally think of Tepache as a summery drink but when paired with this exceptionally tender and flavorful pork was transformed into a comforting, cold weather drink. As with the first course, the cider was used in the preparation of the food, no doubt infusing just the right amount of sweet into the dish. The portion size was very generous - two tortillas (not made in house, but you could have fooled me by Mike, their kitchen manager) chock full of hunks of meat and slaw - and could have been slightly smaller. That said, I finished every last morsel on my plate (and would have eaten more).

Winter Abbey Spice with Shepard's Pie
Whereas Tepache represents summer, this cider, which was aged for six months on raisins, exemplifies all that is winter. In this pairing it cut the richness of the Shepard's pie - served in muffin sized ramekins, a bottom of tender, flavorful meat and topped with cheese-crusted mashed potatoes - but was even more spectacular with the soda bread. This bread was no afterthought; the flavors from the raisins it contained clearly intended to play off the aging of the cider and the outside perfectly crusty to compliment the melt-in-your mouth interior. As an added bonus the cider was a delight with the remaining hazelnuts from the first course.

Whiskey Sour with Sea Scallop Masala
Not being a mixed drink drinker I can't say how true to the drink this cider is but if so I may have to start ordering them. Tart and lovely it played well with the smoky, perfectly cooked (if slightly over salty) scallops and was surprisingly stunning with the oven roasted tomatoes dotting the plate. Those tomatoes were reminiscent of the tomato confit I made recently and has planted the idea to make them again soon, pairing them with this cider, bruschetta-style.

Revival with Panna Cotta with Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Served in a stemmed dish the creamy panna cotta was topped with a chunky, fresh sauce and bordered with fresh orange slices. The most straight forward cider of the evening, a semi-dry cider aptly named, combined with the dessert to provide a refreshing end to the meal. I was revived and ready to start the whole thing over again.

The dinner wasn't without some issues from the kitchen - some courses coming out too close to one another, others with a significant pause between them and some dishes that were closer to room temperature than hot - but just like a newly opened restaurant, I'm more than willing to give them a pass. The quality and flavors of the dishes were outstanding and for the first time out, from a 10x10 kitchen no less, there's most definitely promise. I'm looking forward to getting information about their future dinners and I encourage you to do the same.

In the meantime, head over to Reverend Nat's tasting room or grab a bottle at your favorite shop to enjoy the liquid portion of this meal or visit Alberta Street Pub to enjoy the on-menu versions of the Irish Soda Bread, Pork Cheek Sliders or Shepherd's Pie.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! This sounds wonderful. Revival is my favorite Rev Nat's cider so far. I'm actually currently sampling the Winter Abbey Spice.