I thoroughly enjoy when Baton Rouge restaurants do something exciting and adventurous. This can happen in many ways. Restaurants can expand their horizons through local ingredients, modern techniques, or attention to the most finite of details. It can also be done, in my eyes at least, with alcohol. I recently helped prepare a pop-up restaurant beer dinner at the Tin Roof Brewery, so this time I was excited to just show up and enjoy the fruits of somebody else's labor. In this case, that somebody else happened to be Chef Nathan Gresham. He combined efforts with his partner at Beausoleil, Jeffrey Conaway, to pair a five course meal with craft beer out of Utah. The Utah Brewers Cooperative, consisting of beer from Squatters and Wasatch, provided some excellent liquid accompaniments to the cuisine of the evening. Here's a quick recap of the evening's indulgence:
The meal began with some hors d' oeuvres and a Little Slammer from Wasatch. The Little Slammer is their golden ale that comes in a fancy little 7 oz bottle. It certainly provided a nice palate starter and paired well with a few snacks. We had a puff pastry filled with duck pate and some of Beausoleil's signature pork rinds, then patiently awaited our next dish. The rest of the courses were themed to coincide with times of the day.
"Dawn" came with a blue crab corn fritter set atop an oven roasted tomato slice and peach remoulade sauce. The sweet crab and corn inside the golden brown fritter worked extremely well together. With just the right amount of crunch and smoothness, the fritter pleased the crowds. The dish elevated itself to the next level with the bright acidity of the tomato and the fantastic peach remoulade sauce. The Wasatch Belgian Style White Ale paired amazingly with the crab and the hints of peach. I'd suggest the Wasatch White Ale to anybody who enjoys that style of beer. It is a great one. Blue Moon can jump off a cliff and shatter on jagged rocks.
"High Noon" brought on a nice portion of grouper and some crispy sweetbreads. The grouper was sauteed and then placed over some cooked down sunflower shoots and a coriander citrus butter. The grouper flaked apart well and the sweetbreads had that excellent can't-quite-place-it organ taste... I love 'em! The dish came with the Squatters IPA. The bitter hops from the India Pale Ale worked very well with the lightness of the fish as well as the coriander citrus butter. "Dusk" arrived an opportune time. The sun set with the most creative dish of the evening. Chef Gresham braised a bunch of lamb shanks, pulled the meat off the bones, formed patties, breaded them in panko, and gave them a quick fry. The lamb shank "Milanese" came with some roasted root vegetables and an Outer Darkness stout reduction. The dish proved to be inventive and downright delicious. Each bite supplied a myriad of textures and tastes. I'd order this dish again and again. It came paired with the Squatters Outer Darkness Stout that the reduction was made from.
I figured we'd get something dark for the "midnight" course. The bacon and chocolate terrine with cocoa espresso beans and pistachio creme anglaise certainly fit the bill. The chocolate had an incredibly smooth and velvety texture until you hit the crunchy bacon scattered throughout. The pistachios and espresso beans added some more layers as well. While the dish kind of laid flat on the plate, it still packed some excellent sweetness that rounded out the night along with the Wasatch Devastator Double Bock. While I think the stout and the double bock may have paired better had they been switched around, they are still both certainly excellent beers! I especially like the Outer Darkness. I need to have a few more of those.
I'd like to congratulate Nathan and Jeff and everyone at Beausoleil for an outstanding beer dinner. Thanks to Natalie from International Wine and Spirits and Mark Cleveland from the Utah Brewers Cooperative for doing their part on the beer side as well. The event brought in a great crowd and everybody left extremely pleased. I'll be looking for Beausoleil to put on more dinners like this in the future... perhaps even some whiskey dinners or some other breweries that don't get much attention around here. That'd be great!
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