Posts tagged ‘boston restaurants’

March 16, 2011

Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner at Garden in the Cellar – Cambridge, MA

Last week I had the privilege of attending a Beer Dinner hosted by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company at Garden in the Cellar restaurant in Cambridge, MA. The dinner was an absolutely spectacular event, and if you have the opportunity you must visit Garden in the Cellar – the restaurant is small but comfortable, the drink list is great, and the food is prepared skillfully and with passion.

The Beer Dinner was a 5-course adventure with each delicious course paired with an equally delicious Sierra Nevada beer. A few Sierra Nevada Representatives were on hand to explain the history of the brewery, and provide basic background on each beer being served.

The first course featured famous, and locally farmed, Island Creek Oysters. Farmed in Duxbury Bay, these exceptionally fresh oysters were served with frozen horseradish granite, caviar and honey, and the course was paired with Glissade Golden Bock. This first course set the tone for the evening beautifully – the dish was so light and fresh, I swear it tasted like spring. The oysters were chilled, fresh, and wonderfully enhanced by the flavor of horseradish and the sweet and subtle aftertaste of honey. The beer pairing was spot on, as the Glissade Golden Bock was light and crisp with a mellow malty bite, a refreshing beer for a refreshing first course. The flavor profiles were delicate, sweet, and slightly tart, and had us all looking forward towards spring.

The second course built on the flavors of the first course remarkably well. The dish was Razor Clam Ceviche, served with dark rum, fried plantain, bacon powder and cilantro and was paired with Kellerweis. I thought this dish creation and placement within the menu was genius – it featured the same light and fresh flavors from the first course, but added citrus, latin and tropical flavors that really worked well together. The dark rum was drizzled on the plate and was dense and boozey, perfectly complimenting the fresh ceviche that had fresh tastes of pineapple and cilantro. Bacon powder was an interesting addition, I am not a huge fan of molecular gastronomy and I tend to shy away from it, but in this case the bacon powder provided the flavor of bacon to contrast with the fruity tastes on the plate, without having a slab of greasy, heavy bacon to overwhelm the delicate flavors.  The fried plantain provided some texture and crunch to the dish, and a small taste of salt. Out of all of the beer pairings, I found this course to be the best matched. The Kellerweis is a non-traditional Hefeweizen that has delicious flavors of clove and banana, but remains light and crisp. I often find German Hefeweizen’s to have a tongue-coating aftertaste that keeps me from having more than one, but Kellerweis was refreshing and delicious and went wonderfully with the Ceviche. I will definitely be buying this beer again, it will be a perfect accompaniment to a long anticipated summer day! (I also plan to make my own ceviche this summer, so stay tuned for that!)

The third course was my favorite dish of the evening. Torpedo Cheddar Soup served with an apple cigar and topped with popped corn, and paired with Torpedo beer. This soup was one of the most delicious soups I have ever had. The taste was so intense – sharp cheddar and hoppy beer flavors in a creamy broth. Hats off to the chef on this one! The room was literally filled with voices declaring their love for this soup. The soup was cream and vegetable based and made with the Torpedo IPA – a big, hoppy, bold beer that you could taste with each bite. The popcorn garnish added a nice crunch to the soup, and the apple cigar was filo-like pastry wrapped around slices of apple and cinnamon – perfect for dipping into the soup! Of course the beer pairing worked well since the beer was featured in the actual dish itself. I will attempt to make this soup myself because it was so delicious I simply must have it again!

The fourth and main course was Slow Cooked Venison served with yellow foots, butternut squash, and espresso crumble, and paired with Sierra Nevada Porter. This was a creative dish and although I do not typically eat venison, I did enjoy this course. The meat itself was rare which was a bit much for me, but seemed to be appreciated by most of the people I was dining with. The butternut squash was a delicious and sweet accompaniment that paired well with the smooth texture of the venison. The espresso crumble was an awesome addition I never would have thought off  and it really helped compliment the smokey flavors of the dish, while also adding a crisp texture. The yellow foots (a small and very thin type of mushroom) absorbed the flavors of the meat well and provided additional texture variation. The Porter was an excellent beer pairing for this dish being savory, sweet, and rich with hints of caramel and molasses. The dish had an overall winter feeling to it, and the Porter worked well in this concept. In addition, it went beautifully with the espresso crumbs.

The final dish was Bread Pudding, served with burnt sugar ice cream and Stout espuma and paired with Sierra Nevada Stout. Keep in mind, at this point in the night I have had four courses and four beers, and although I am sad to be at the final course, I don’t know if I have it in me to even finish it! That being said, the bread pudding was a wonderful way to end the night, and is always one of my favorite desserts in general. It was cooked perfectly, crispy on top, and light and doughey on the inside. The burnt sugar ice cream was a much needed bit of dairy to help diffuse the dry dessert. The Stout espuma was also a fun addition; espuma is basically a foam that has subtle flavors of an ingredient, in this case the Stout itself. The dessert paired well with the Stout, which was creamy, full-bodied and almost like a dessert on its own.

All and all the night was a tremendous success. The dishes were creative, flavorful, and delicious, and the beers were paired perfectly to both compliment and contrast the various spotlighted ingredients. I thought the menu was incredibly well designed, going from lightest to heaviest and through different seasons of flavor. I look forward to more Beer Dinner events at Garden in the Cellar, and have a new appreciation for Sierra Nevada’s array of beers.