Thursday, October 21, 2010
When Pat last left off, Freaktoberfest, had kicked off the events of the week and Pat was just getting started on along week of beer-vangelism and Dave was getting down to the city to join the revelry. This section is full of fantastic foods, so if you're hungry, go grab a slice of terrine or some baba ganoosh.
On Saturday, I was joined by Smuttynose Director of Brewing Operations (DoBrO) Dave Yarrington and we made our way over to The Get Real NY cask ale festival put on by Patrick Donagher of Rattle n Hum and Cask Master Alex Hall at NYC’s Altman Building. The scene here was simply amazing as the organizers built a huge rectangular stillage that housed over 80 cask -conditioned ales from all over the world. Food purveyors lining the outside of the room and the festival provided attendees with a chic mini pint glass to sample the beer.
The Smuttynose offerings were varied and amazing. There was the Big A IPA, quadruple dry-hopped with Simcoe, Centennial, Santium and Cascade and the elusive Chai Porter. There was a second Porter firkin that had been aged on apple brandy-soaked oak chips in addition to three other single dry-hopped brews; Star Island Single with Sterling, Pumpkin with Liberty and Old Brown Dog with Glacier. Dave was pulled from the crowd to speak to the geeks and we also did a few interviews.
Next, we were off to Brooklyn to attend a Zagat/Smuttynose Beer dinner at Benchmark Restaurant on 5th Avenue and 2nd Street in Park Slope. Chef Ryan Jaronik prepared a three course meal in a format that I was not used to but found to be very pleasant. Each of the three courses was portioned larger than the norm and we received a full 12 ounce bottle of beer with each course served in large wine glasses.
Course number one was a Ginger-Fried Squid Salad with Papaya, Spicy Cashews, Frisée, Squid Ink Vinaigrette paired with the Star Island Single. The delicate Belgian spiciness of the beer paired well with the appetizer and the beer’s clean finish went quite well with the fried calamari. The second course was a Duo of Beef: Broiled NY Strip Steak and Big A IPA Braised Short Rib with Horseradish Potato Purée, Boeuf Onions, Mustard Demi-Glace. I found this course to be great with the bold double IPA standing up well to the hearty dish. Finally for desert, a Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Honey Roasted Bananas and Hazelnut Caramel paired with the Smuttynose Robust Porter. This pairing was simply sublime with the best of both the beer and the food coming out and complimenting each other in a way that literally made both better.
After dinner we sauntered down to Mission Dolores on 4th Avenue, one of the main Smuttynose Craft Beer Week venues, and sampled some Rouge D’Shire, Vunderbar Pilsner and other offerings. We finished the night with a brief pub crawl paying a visit to Pacific Standard, 4th Avenue Pub and High Dive, all craft beer week venues that housed at least one Smuttynose line and then stumbled home to bed.
Sunday morning Dave and I went back to Get Real, sampled some more brews and food and did another interview or two and then headed over to Meet and greet Union Beer’s Mike Lavullo at the legendary Blind Tiger Ale House. Mike and company were in the midst of a Craft Beer Week pub crawl that he had organized through Manhattan’s East and West Village beer bars. We caught the first half of the Giants game (Dave and I both from Jersey are mutual fans) and then drove up to Tim Reinke and John Sharp’s Birdsall House in Peekskill, NY. This beautiful Westchester County beer bar and restaurant was featuring a dozen or so Smuttynose brews and though the beer dinner that Tim and I had discussed never materialized, it mattered not because the food was fantastic. Holed up for the night we started with a few charcuterie platters featuring fine artisanal cheeses, sausages and pate’s. The first consisted of Pork and fennel sausage with porter and caraway mustard, Brovetto Farms green peppercorn Tilset, chicken terrine wrapped in bacon over mesclun and the second Pork terrine with mustard seed caviar, spicy lamb sausage with red onion jam, and seared bacon lardon with apple butter over mesclun. After a few hours shooting the breeze with Tim and John and some of their patrons we settled in for dinner. Dave had the Fried Organic Chicken with buttermilk biscuits, southern-style giblet gravy, black-eyed peas, collard greens, glazed carrots and I had the 9-Spice Roasted Pork Loin with sweet potato and cheddar mac-n-cheese, braised brussel sprouts and smoky tomato marmal. All of the food at Birdsall is locally sourced, house made, organic and outstanding. This place is well worth a trip and easy to get to and from via the Metro North railroad out of Grand Central Station in NYC. In the morning Dave headed back to the Shire and I back to Brooklyn for a well earned day off…well from drinking at least.