co-written by: Joe Porter
A PERFECT PAIRING was the title of the night, and indeed it was. Two local institutions synonymous with greatness and bathed in Chicago revelry came together for a night of fine cuisine and beer pairing I will not soon forget. The night was hosted by Goose Island Brewmaster Brett Porter and Harry Caray’s Executive Chef Joe Rosetti.
We arrived at the event about 15 minutes early which gave our party ample time to socialize and try a couple beers on tap at the bar. Harry Caray’s has a great ambiance and a prestige feel to the setting that made you feel a just little bit better about yourself while sipping on a great beer. I (Joe), personally have not been to Harry Caray’s for a casual craft beer but they had a great variety of Goose Island beer to offer. Maybe it was because of the Goose Island event but regardless, they presented Baudonia on tap, a rare-only-in-Chicago Goose Island Imperial Stout. Baudonia did not disappoint. If you have a chance to try this beer, do not hesitate it’s amazing… period.
The dining room, where the pairing dinner took place, was a superb backdrop for what was about to be presented to us. Dim lighting, round tables surrounded by leather-upholstered horseshoe booths left no one with a bad a view. As if the setting and the beer wasn’t enough, we were honored to have Grant DePorter sitting at the table right next to us.
Candied Bacon and Winged Lollypop with Matilda
The evening of pairings started with a casual reception in which everyone was handed a bottle of Matilda along with a Maple-Glazed Chicken Wing Lollypop and Candied Bacon with watercress on it’s own fork. I was very impressed with the maple flavor of the chicken, which was more like a leg that was trimmed down to one end, and the bone was cut almost to resemble a “bone-in chop.” Matilda complimented the maple flavor on the chicken and hung nicely with the bacon. Both bites were perfect starters and showcased the greatness that was about to unfold in front of us.
Foie Maple Parfait with Madame Rose
The opening course was a Parfait made with Foie Gras and egg to form a mousse and topped with a jelly made with cherries, mostarda and some of the beer. It was all contained in a small flip-top jar served with some sliced and toasted baguette’s. It was a great presentation and fun to eat. The mousse was incredibly smooth and buttery while the jelly offered a fun layer to help pair the beer with the dish. The paired beer was Madame Rose which is a Belgian style beer aged in wine barrels with cherries. Personally I was never interested in this beer but it really made a believer out of me with its slightly sour finish. This dish and pairing almost should’ve been set back one further in the course because it was so incredible.
Berkshire Pork Belly with Lolita
Course 2 featured a braised Pork Belly from Berkshire farms served on top of Yukon Potato Puree and topped with Fuji Apple Butter and Parsnip Chips. My pork belly must have been braised for a week because it could not have been more tender and more perfect. This perfectly executed dish was paired with Lolita a Belgian Style Pale Ale aged in wine barrels with raspberries. Again what a surprise this beer gave me and the sour notes almost gave the dish more than it could handle. All in all this course was by far the prettiest.
Venison Sausage with Juliet
The 3rd course of the evening was a beautiful Venison sausage from Publican Quality Meats. Served with this bright sausage was a blackberry jam, pistachio’s and topped with sprigs of peppercress. Paired with this dish was another Belgian sour called Juliet, again aged in wine barrels with fruit, this time blackberries. Again it was another well put together beer. I really enjoyed the experience of these beautiful wine-barrel-aged beers!
27 Day Aged Veal Chop with 2012 BCS
At this point in the dinner I could hear the “oohs” from the diners as the 2012 Bourbon County Stout arrived at the table. Paired with this highly sought after beer was a 27 Day Aged Veal Chopped that was grilled and served on braised rapini, chanterelles and a BCS demi-glace. Believe it or not I could’ve have done without the chop because the mushrooms and rapini along with the glace were so perfectly done on this plate. Don’t get me wrong the chop was great, especially as I approached the bone.
Doughnut Holes and Pot De Creme with 2 BCS Variants
Course 5, or course 5 and 6 as it should’ve been titled, was a combined plate and double-barreled beer pairing featuring the super-rare, most sought after variants of the Bourbon County lineup- 2012 Coffee and 2010 Vanilla. We were warned at least twice throughout the evening this might be the last time anyone sees a BCS Vanilla, I sure hope they were wrong. The BCS Vanilla was paired with 2 doughnut holes on top of chocolate which were rolled in sugar and resembled something more similar to Ollie Boellen, just a little more supple texture. The BCS Coffee was paired with a espresso Pot De’ Creme which was brulee’d on top and mirrored a well done creme brulee. I personally thought the pairings were best flip-flopped, the vanilla beans from the Vanilla BCS really soared with the Pot De’ Creme, while the Coffee BCS went together with the doughnut holes like… coffee and donuts!
We know there are some people out there frown upon Goose Island. Their selling out to the Corporate Beer World did not strike a good chord with the average beer geek. However, if they continue to make great beer like the ones we consumed that evening, I (Joe) will continue to support.
We heard about this dinner via Twitter and we are so glad we did! All-in-all this evening was handled very well and would definitely attend another event like this. The staff at Harry Caray’s was excellent and the Goose Island reps in attendence were very friendly.
A special thanks to Ken from Goose Island and HopCast for the great conversation at Table #1!
Goose Island and Harry Caray’s we raise our glass to you for a great evening. Cheers.
For more pictures from the event visit our Facebook page photo album