Another Philly Beer Week arrived
along with the "rockstars" of the brewing world. Among them are Vinnie
and Natalie Cilurzo founders of Russian River Brewing who have attained
a plateau equal to Sam Calagione!!(LOL) Seriously, RR makes some of the
best beers in the world which makes them hard-to-find and expensive. But
at least once a year they appear at Monk's Cafe to wow the crowds with
their beers. The ticket for this dinner was one of the most sought after
for Philly Beer Week. My friend Nanci and myself made the trip to Monk's
on a Monday morning and claimed our place in line(5th I think) and proceeded
to wait until the selling began.
Several friends who have never been to a Monk's dinner decided to accompany us: Nanci and Ken and Ryan and Rachel figured it would be fun despite the $125 price tag. Tun Tavern brewer Tim Kelly and friend Arleen rounded out the party.
Rumor had it that Vinnie had licensed six new beers in PA just for this dinner. That shot the value of this ticket wayyyy up!!
Mary Lu and I decided to spend the night in Philly to avoid the long ride home especially after drinking all that beer. The Radisson just a few blocks away had a special PBW rate and we made the reservation!
Anticipation grew until the day arrived. We checked in and met up with Nanci and Ken for the walk over. Arriving early, I got a chance to talk to Brian Morin, chef from Toronto's famous BeerBistro, who has been a guest chef here on several occasions. Surprisingly, he remembered me and greeted me warmly. You knew this dinner was going to top all the others!
Perusing the menu, something seemed strange...everything was stuffed! So went the theme of the dinner.
We started out with Redemption, a Belgian Blonde Ale, accompanied by a Truffle Stuffed Scallop ceviche style w/redemption, jalapeno, basil and lime. A great start to a long night.
Next, we had Temptation, a lightly sour Blonde Ale aged in French Oak Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces. Lobster Stuffed Ravioli w/quail egg, corn puree and temptation butter was delivered to complement the brew and it was wonderful.
A new beer for most of us was Defenestration, a dry, hoppy Belgian style with a slight coffee flavor. Served with Sweetbread Stuffed Quail w/smokehouse bacon and jusation, the bold flavors of both melded well together.
Another new beer showed up at the table, Rejection, which was a Belgian inspired Black beer with a nice dry finish. Lamb Stuffed Mushrooms appeared before me and was one of my favorite courses. Served with goat cheese polenta, coffee brined lamb and onions, again the bold flavors complemented one another.
After all those distinctive dishes, a palate cleanser was in order. Compunction stuffed Compunction was a wild ale sorbet placed in the glass of the wild ale itself. Nicely tart and woody, it was one of my favorite beers of the evening if there was such a thing.
I've had Supplication several times and I love it dearly. A brown ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels with additions of sour cherries, Brett, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus gives it a very complex flavor profile....tart, horseblankety, sour....all the flavors I enjoy. Duck Stuffed Duck, supplication marinated duck breast w/foie gras stuffed confit and young beet and parsnip puree, was chosen to accompany this beer and was a great choice. The tartness of the beer and the richness of the duck and the foie gras was van outstanding contrast in flavors.
By this time, even with small portions, I began to feel a little stuffed myself but I sucked it up and muddled through the last 2 courses.
Erudition, a Saison with Brett, came under my nose next. Another sour beer with a wheaty, dry profile was paired with Black Walnut Stuffed Brioche w/Delice de Bourgogne cow's cheese. It cleansed the cheese's fat right off the tongue and blended well with the brioche.
A unique beer, Symposium Sour, which was made for this year's Craft Brewers' Conference. It was a brown ale fermented with Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss yeast and aged in Fritz Maytag's red wine barrels with some "bugs" added. Little to no carbonation and a taste of vinuous fruit. Not the best beer of the night but neither were the Cream Filled Donuts w/local rhubarb which were a disappointment. The donuts were a bit dry and the cream was not plentiful to combat it. But, after all that we had, one couldn't complain.
All in all, the dinner was one of the best ever and was worth every penny! Can't wait for the next one!
Check out Monk's website for upcoming events and get in on the fun!