21 September 2007

Review: Free State Beer Banquet 2007

Ya know, it's just one of those weeks. I feel like I'm going a million miles an hour and pulled in eighteen different directions. Not like that's necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean I'm light on blog updates. No time to cook new and exciting recipes, let alone post them on the blog!

So instead, you get a recap. Last night we attended the Left Hand Brewery Beer Dinner at the Eldridge Hotel (held in the same ballroom where Hubs and I got married, how sweet!). No I didn't get any pics, although I wish I had because whew, those were some great beers paired with awesome food. The Eldridge staff never disappoints, that's for sure. The third course was a sticky braised short rib with roasted baby porcinis and a Maytag cream sauce. Mmmmmm.

Anyhoo, if I was just going to rehash an old post from my old blog, I thought this Restaurant Review would be perfect. Without further ado, my review of the 2007 Free State Beer Banquet.

Oh and P.S.: sorry for the crappy shots, my camera was dying and the flash was a nightmare in that place...

Free State Beer Banquet, 2007

First, a little background. Free State Brewery in Lawrence has an annual Beer Banquet to celebrate the brewery's birthday, and we've been lucky enough to attend for 6 years. Free State is a consistently good restaurant anyway, but they bring it all out for the annual banquet: Four courses plus an intermezzo, with all courses matched to hard-to-find brews. They throw a few of their own special brews in there as well; it's three hours of wonderful beer, great food, and lots of fun. Tickets sell out in a day: People come in from all over (JoCo, KC, Hays, we even met a retired couple from GA who RVs here in the winter for the Beer Banquet) and there's only 40 people allowed per night (over 3 evenings), so you need to be quick to get a seat.

This year it was all Belgian beers, a repeat theme from a few years ago but with different brews. Each table seats about six, and when seated you find a bin of ice filled with your beers for the evening (and pitchers for the Free State originals). There are generally 1-2 beers with a matching course, about 8 beers total. We tried to sit with friends this year but were separated, instead sat with two retired Air Traffic Controllers and their wives. A very fun bunch! You always meet the most interesting people at this thing.

On to the Banquet! First off: Dulle Teve and Pomme Lambic beers, the first a tart/sour Tripel-style beer and the second tasting EXACTLY like green apple cider . They were paired with a chicken liver mousse, served with microgreens, smokey bacon, toasted country wheat bread, and a molasses malt reduction. Very yummy! A bit of a secret: I absolutely adore liver and onions. My dad used to make it occasionally for me and Beah when we were younger and still living at home, we'd gobble it up. This liver was just as good, and the beers delicious too. Great match.

Second course was the salad: Frisse and arugula with coriander oil, tamari shitake relish, dried fruit, and smoked pistachios. Not bad, but my goodness: Salty! I think it was the tamari. Anyhoo, served with Duvel. I've had this before and forgot how good it was, a perfume-y light brew, very crisp. Didn't really cut through the salt though. Gah, that salad was salty.

Time for two more beers, La Chouffe and Free State's own Double Gold (a special batch of Wheat fermented with Belgian yeast, aged since 2005). I had the La Chouffe at my first beer banquet and it's yummy, a hint of coriander and very light. The Double Gold was strong (wooooo!) and also very good. Both beers were followed by the intermezzo, a peach-ginger sorbet with rosemary and black pepper. Hubs thought it was odd but I liked it, except the black pepper was fresh-ground so there were some big chunks. If you skipped them though you were fine. It was refreshing and spicy. Loved it.

On to the entrée and beer! The beer was McChouffe, the dark counterpart to La Chouffe. You could taste molasses and fruit. The entrée was pork tenderloin with a porcini/ancho crust and Mexican cocoa demi-glace. Served with wilted greens and celery root custard (like mashed potatoes), all with organic orange coulis. Oh, yum. The pork was tender but crispy outside; the sauces were both perfect with it. I absolutely loved the celery root, so much flavor. My second-favorite of the night (see dessert below).

And finally, on to the dessert course. Two beers, Gouden Carolus Classic and Free State's Chocolate Porter. The Gouden was a strong Belgian, hints of raisins. The Chocolate Porter was very nutty with a chocolate base (it's brewed with cocoa nibs). Mmmmm, my favorite kind of beer. The dessert, my goodness: Tart cherry bread pudding with a pilsner crème anglaise, mascarpone ice cream, and green tea syrup. Sprinkled with "vanilla caviar". I gobbled this down, even on a diet but man I demolished it. I love fresh cherries and this was soooo good with whole tart cherries and the right bread pudding consistency and the cold creamy mascarpone. The green tea syrup was a surprise but worked well with the dish. If Free State added this to the menu, I'd order it every time we went there (which is often).

What an awesome meal. We left and met back up with friends, for a nightcap at The Bourgeois Pig. Then off to bed for us, as it was late. Again: if you ever come across the Beer Banquet, you must go.

1 comment:

SRDJAN :) said...

mmmm tasty recipes thanks for share. Cheers