Fried okra bread, smoked peach relish with Culmination Urizen ISA
Okra has a mild flavor so it didn't contribute much as a component of the fried sourdough bread but it was hands down the least slimy preparation of okra I've experienced (score!). Served with a well balanced relish combining the sweet smokiness of peach and a nice bite of onion, the slight greasiness of the bread was cut by the lightness of Urizen and the dinner was off to a great start.
Lamb, eggplant, pomegranate, chickpea, feta with Migration Better Off Red IPA
In a very interesting composition and presentation the eggplant (another ingredient that usually doesn't wow me) was thinly sliced and used as a wrapper around the lamb which was heavily spiced (nutmeg and cumin perhaps?) and salted. An assertive dish, the pairing with this equally assertive, Vic Secret dry-hopped beer was spot on.
Pistachio fried rock crab, hulled barley risotto, lemon oil with Coalition Sangria Bretta
The beer, a collaboration with Enso Winery, is a big hit with me on its own but was taken to another level when paired with the delicate crab flavor that was encased in a crispy pistachio crust. Complimenting that crispiness was a perfectly cooked, tender and creamy "risotto" made from hulled barley (similar in size to Israeli couscous) instead of the traditional rice.
Braised oxtail, charred onions, eseputna mash, green oak, cilantro with Base Camp Fresh Hop Town Saison
The first fresh hop beer for me this season is also one of the best I've had from Base Camp. A Saison, generally not a style I enjoy, was brightened by a substantial amount of hops, transported from the fields at Goschie Farms to Base Camp's brewery by bike. The fall-off-the-bone tender oxtail, potato foam (aka eseputna mash) and gravy were delicious on their own, yet even better paired with the beer.
Goat barbacoa, fried squash blossom, avocado, sour cream with Mt. Tabor Crown Point Porter
As with the previous course, what the plate lacked in color was more than made up for in the flavor - brown goodness, my, oh, my! Here, however instead of being accompanied by a bright beer, the roasty porter with both a delicious aroma and pleasing mouthfeel was the perfect match and made for the best pairing of the night. (For those wondering why Mt. Tabor, which had been located in downtown Vancouver was included, the exciting answer is that they will be opening a taproom at 124 SE 11th Avenue possibly as soon as next weekend.)
|Tomas Sluiter, Culmination
Panna cotta, honey comb, blowtorched berries, pear with Burnside The Riveter
Getting full and perhaps a bit tipsy as the dinner rounded the corner into the home stretch, this pairing wasn't as spot on as the previous ones. The dessert on its own absolutely rocked however and it was fun to try this collaboration beer made by my favorite Burnside brewer, Natalie Baldwin, and Do Bongers of Oersoep Brewing of the Netherlands.
Vegan banana ice cream, buttermilk caramel, pear chips with Alameda Stubs Old Crow Hazelnut Porter
The final course, like the previous one, didn't offer a pairing that was on par with the savory ones but at this point it was all gravy (well, not literally, that was back in the fourth course). A lightly sweet end to the meal topped off a wonderful evening surrounded by people that make and enjoy good food and drink.
If you haven't been to a Beer Belly dinner yet, consider this my push for you to do so. As an added incentive all of the dinners benefit a charity (this one for the Children's Cancer Association) so you can eat, drink and do good all in one delicious package.