Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wild animal flesh and beer? I'm in.

This past Sunday, the Beerhouse at the awesomely awesome River City Casino had a special event.  This type of event only happens on the third Sunday of each month.  For the month of September, the event was a wild game and beer pairing.  The beers came from a small brewery in Oregon, called Dechutes, and they are just starting to enter the Missouri market.  The Beerhouse executive chef, John Johnson, worked with the brewery to make dishes that paired well with beers from the brewery.

So, the first dish, was a roasted Northern Pike with some peach risotto and some grilled asparagus.  The fish was seasoned well and cooked so well, that I enjoyed it.  If you have been reading my articles for a while, you know that I'm not a huge fan of seafood, however in some cases, I am learning to like it.  In this case, it was good.  The peach risotto was good enough that my wife suggested I go home and make some for the kids.  The grilled asparagus, was grilled fresh, not frozen or a few days old.  You could tell because even as it was grilled, it was still tender and had a crisp or crunch to it.  Old or frozen asparagus when cooked is stringy and a flimsy.  This dish was paired with the Chainbreaker White IPA.  I'm not normally a fan of IPA's, but this one had a very high citrus flavor in it which made it work great with the fish, risotto and asparagus.

Then came the Antelope rarebit, with polenta fries and cole slaw.  So, they made a play on the Philly Cheese steak sandwich by having a crunchy piece of French bread, made into a garlic bread, and then having little chunks of Antelope smothered in cheese on it.  It didn't look nor really taste all that strange.  I'm not a cheese person either which was odd because I was eating this dish and my wife would comment about the cheese and I would say "what cheese?"  The polenta fries were sticks of polenta, which if I had a side of ketchup would be awesome replacements for any hamburger.  The creamy slaw was tasty and perfectly seasoned and lent a bit more creaminess to the dish.  The pairing with the tart Mirror Pond Pale Ale, gave the acidity in flavor to counter the sweetness and richness of the other items on the plate.

The next dish was one of the entrees, and was a grilled Elk loin chop, with a chanterelle spaetzle and glazed baby carrots.  The chop was cut in what I believe to be a tomahawk chop, where there is a long bone sticking out of a circular cut of meat.  It had a nice sear to the outside and was pink, juicy and cooked perfectly on the inside. The Chanterelle spaetzle didn't have a strong flavor to it, which was nice paired with the dish.  The glazed baby carrots were perfectly cooked.  Most of the time, when baby carrots are served at restaurants, they are either too mushy or still hard.  These were perfect.  (I will have to say that this goes into one of my biggest complaints about spaetzle: the pronunciation.  The word is "spaetzle" and it is pronounced as "spetzel".  I know that people on food network or wherever sometimes pronounce it as "spayt-zel" or "spet-zley" but those are incorrect.  Having grown up eating spaetzle cooked from scratch from my German grand-mother, I know that it is pronounced as this.  It just irks me when someone says, "this is paired with some spaytzle".  I always say under my breath, "its pronounced "SPE-TZEL", like "pretzel"!)  This was paired with a very nice Inversion IPA.

The second entree' came out as a wild Boar schnitzel with sweetbreads and a potato hash with crispy brussel sprouts.  The boar schnitzel was a huge piece of breaded and deep fried happiness on my plate.  Then again, I'm happy to eat anything deep fried.  The big thing on the plate, the main factor for me, was the sweetbreads, of which this was the first time trying it.  You know, it was good, it wasn't what I expected it to taste like.  Yeah, I know it is cooked testicles, but it was good.  It was creamy and rich and reminded me of pork fat; of which I am a huge fan of.  The beer that this one came out with was the Black Butte Porter which was a good heavy beer.  It was heavier and darker than my normal favorite: a Guinness.  The super heavy and dark beer gave me this European setting as I ate my Wild Boar schnitzel.

The last dish in this tasting was the dessert and in this case, it was a chocolate bread pudding and a cinnamon ice cream.  The beer that went with this dessert was the Stoic and was delivered to us in a Brandy Sniffer glass and had a very nice, relaxing flavor to it.  The chocolate bread pudding reminded me of a fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate brownie.  The cinnamon ice cream was fantastic, partially because I have had cinnamon ice creams at other places and they always use the "red hot" candies for their flavoring.  This ice cream was made with what tasted like real cinnamon, not cassia.  The flavor was almost a light vanilla flavor with the soothing cinnamon flavor at the front and end.  The beer, went well with this and almost took the place of a dessert wine.

The Beerhouse in the River City Casino does a special meal with beer pairing, every third Sunday of the month.  So, be sure and go there for their Halloween special meal, in October.

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