Monday, March 28, 2016

Terra Cafe's Chestnut Brew Works Beer Pairing Dinner

Photo by Sher Yip
Prix fixe dinners are becoming trendy in Morgantown now (though this culinary trend hit a level of popularity years ago elsewhere). A prix fixe dinner is a meal of several courses served at a fixed price. Many of these dinners have either wine or beer pairings.

Terra Cafe & Chestnut Brew Works Beer Pairing 6.24.2016
Photo by Sher Yip
Just a few days ago, I went to Terra Cafe's Chestnut Brew Works Beer Pairing Dinner. I typically shy away from many prix fixe dinners unless I know the chef is going to bring it -- because it's already going to be pricy, and sometimes my bank account can't take that gamble. But with Terra Cafe and Chestnut Brew Works, I knew this meal would be nothing short of awesome. And, with a $45 price tag, I couldn't pass it up.

Terra Cafe Chestnut Brew Works Beer PairingVicki, Steve, Lisa and I made reservations for the six-course meal. It sold out pretty quickly! When we arrived, we were seated at table 26 and, before long, we got started. Terra Cafe's Head Chef Lauren Hartman and Chestnut Brew Works' Owner and Head Brewer Bill Rittenour began the evening with a thanks, and Lauren talked a bit broadly about beer pairing dinners, noting that there are two ways to do it: Either coincide with the flavors within each beer or go the opposite way. Because each Chestnut Brew Works beer encompasses so many wonderful flavors, she took the former route. Then, the duo introduced each course and the beer paired with it.

Terra Cafe & Chestnut Brew Works Beer Pairing 6.24.2016
Photo by Sher Yip
First course:
Class II Wheatwater paired with Asparagus and goat cheese terrine w/ charred citrus.
I know Lauren loves a terrine, and they're always super beautiful. This was no exception. The goat cheese was delicious and mild (my favorite kind of goat cheese). The citrus just gave a slightly sweet flavor to the mixed greens - which pairs perfectly with the Class II Wheatwater that is a light beer brewed with orange peel.

Terra Cafe & Chestnut Brew Works Beer Pairing 6.24.2016
Photo by Sher Yip
Second course:
Nate's Nut Brown paired with Almond fried English peas with espresso balsamic reduction and shaved chocolate.
The coating on these pea pods were super tasty, but I struggled a bit with the pods being stringy. I resolved to push each pea out, grab a bite of the coating and a nibble of chocolate for a very tasty trifecta. Also to note: Nate's Nut Brown is possibly my favorite beer ever, so the chocolate pairing was delish.

Terra Cafe & Chestnut Brew Works Beer Pairing 6.24.2016
Photo by Sher Yip
Third course:
Halleck Pale Ale paired with Turkey lemongrass lollipops with spicy plum BBQ sauce.
I was really looking forward to these "lollipops," and the flavors were on point. The savory turkey and the spicy plum BBQ (and those tiny candies) paired together made for that perfect sweet/savory combo. I kind of wanted them warmer to help those flavors even more, but they were super tasty as is. The Halleck - probably the brewery's most popular beer - is hoppy but without being too bitter. It could probz go well with anything.

Terra Cafe Chestnut Brew Works Beer PairingFourth course:
South Park Porter paired with the 3 Way Beef Burger, of breaded brisket as the bun, local beef liver patty, and beef liver pate with gremolata sauce.
This is a whole lotta cow on one plate. That brisket was pretty damn tasty dipped into that gremolata sauce (which is a herb condiment of lemon zest, garlic and parsley). The beef patty had some great seasoning, and even the pate added a little something something. The South Park Porter is a heavier beer - fitting for the course.

Terra Cafe Chestnut Brew Works Beer PairingFifth course:
Entish Ale paired with Trout and Fiddlehead chips with tartar sauce of quail eggs and currants.
I think this may have been my favorite course. The fish was cooked beautifully. The fiddleheads had only a slight flavor, but they also acted as a vehicle for this amazing tartar sauce. Seriously. So good. And the currants! Probably my new favorite thing. The Entish Ale is a new English-style Old Ale beer brewed with authentic English malted barley and yeast.

Terra Cafe & Chestnut Brew Works Beer Pairing 6.24.2016
Photo by Sher Yip

Sixth course:
Your Best Hoption paired with Fruit and Coconut Sushi with creme anglaise, peanut coconut sauce, blueberry sauce, and cloudberry champagne sauce.
These sauces were so killer. I love the diversity. Don't love the peanut coconut sauce? Try the blueberry. Or the creme anglaise. I loved every one, and I thought it had this fantastical element with that cloudberry champagne sauce. Pair the super sweet with super hoppy, and it works.

Terra Cafe Chestnut Brew Works Beer PairingGreat flavors, great beers with some great people. Couldn't have asked for a better Thursday evening.