Needless to say, there was
great anticipation for this dinner. Stephen always puts on a great event.
He is one of the best speakers on food and drink that I have had the pleasure
to know. A real class act who is extremely knowledgeable on many culinary
subjects and is an all-around regular guy.
He has been traveling a lot as of late and doesn't see a slowdown soon. He recently toured Belgium and parts of Germany with local drinks writer, Lew Bryson. From the blogs, it was a very successful journey.
Well, I started out the evening with a De Ranke XX Bitter on draft and got a chance to converse with SB before the start of the dinner. It had been almost a year since we had seen him and it was a pleasure as always. Our welcome beer was a great one, '02 Cantillon St. Lamvinus, a blend of lambics aged in oak casks with cabernet sauvignon grapes. This is not an easy one to find and is certainly not cheap as you can imagine. I love lambics and this was especially enjoyable.
The next beer is another favorite of mine. It is one of those that you either love or hate. Deus from Brouwerij Bosteels is made by the methode champenoise, a long and labor intensive regime that naturally carbonates the beer and removes the sediment prior to corking and caging. It is wonderfully fizzy and delicately flavored. The Lobster and Mussel Beaumont was not overpowered by this delicate brew and accompanied it perfectly.
Usually by now, we are stuffed with all the food and beer we get, and I thought I could coast through the rest of the dinner until I saw the Wood Grilled Cowboy Ribeye that was being served next. A plate full of steak and vegetables that could sate the largest appetite. To be on the safe side, I took most of it home for an enjoyable lunch the next day. The beer that was served with it was a rare one, especially on the East Coast. Firestone Walker Brewing Co does not make it out this far and is only tasted at the likes of the GABF. This particular brew was their 11th Anniversary beer, aged in oak bourbon barrels and was quite malty with all the accompanying flavors from the barrels...vanilla and bourbon. Excellent! It must have taken the combined pull of Stephen and Tom to get this one!
For those who have been to Monk's Cafe, it is no surprise that Tom Peters has an extensive cellar of aging beers. He brought one out of his collection for the next course.....a 4 year old JW Lee's Harvest Ale in a calvados wooden cask. Being a fan of this beer, I could not get enough of this selection, though at 11% it is not advisable to overdo it especially when more is yet to come. A cheese plate of 4 styles set off this wonderful brew: Brillat Savarin, Jerome French Munster, Le Delice de Bourgogne and Cabot Cheddar aged 2 years. Not being a big cheese eater, I left some to the wife.
Chocolate Bourbon Bread Pudding exited from the kitchen to an eager though stuffed crowd. To wash this fine delicacy down was another rare one from the Left Coast. Port Brewing's Older Viscosity had a hop and currant nose with a warm, dark fruity flavor and a light hop finish. I don't think I need to tell you how good this pairing was!
For the piece de resistance, Samuel Adams was nice enough to provide a supply of '07 Utopias for the dinner. The rep from SA gave us the rundown on the beer(?) and its production. Many will argue that it's not beer at all, but splitting hairs should not detract from the sheer pleasure of this beverage. Another one that is loved or hated, I happen to enjoy it immensely. I have a bottle saved from '04 that I want served on my death bed. The very warm brandyish notes makes this a great company for the smooth chocolates that came with it. At 25%, it is like having a scotch or brandy after dinner.
Stephen has had some crazy dinners here and I don't know how he's going to top this one. A great time was enjoyed by all and we looked forward to returning to Monk's the next day for another PBW happening!