Home cooks know it can be challenging pairing beverages with food for a dinner party, but restaurants always make it look so easy. But is it? I asked the staff at Pacific Grill to give TNT Diner readers a behind-the-scenes look about something unusual happening Jan. 26 at Pacific Grill – the first ever beer pairing dinner featuring Belgian Abbey beers. I asked Pacific Grill’s tasters to tell TNT Diner readers how they came up with the menu, and give readers tasting notes about each of the beers.
Weighing in on the tasting menu and beer pairings is Pacific Grill owner Gordon Naccarato, with Executive Chef Ian Thompson and Bar Manager Carol Reutercrona:
First course: Cheers! Gougères (humboldt fog goat cheese, pickled beets, red grapes)
Beer pairing: Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale
Food notes: “Instead of an amuse-bouche as a starter we decided to start off the meal with a less formal Cheers! Designation – and serve a single one-bite gougère that will stimulate the appetite and go well with the first beer. There will be a bit of chili spiciness hidden in the rich goat cheese, and the pickled beets also will be nice against the sweetness of the red grapes.”
Beer tasting notes: The Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale has rich soft bubbles with a hint of creaminess.
Second course: Blond Choux Salad (‘blond’-braised red cabbage salad, Nueske’s apple-smoked bacon, Oregonzola blue cheese, warm sherry vinegar and garlic vinaigrette, fresh thyme)
Beer pairing: Maredsous Blond 6°
Food notes: “Since the Beers were all from Belgium, and the cuisine there is heavily influenced by French cuisine, and I love humble bistro cooking (comfort food), I thought of a favorite salad I used to make when I had my restaurant in Aspen. This is a classic bistro choux salad (which means cabbage in French and pronounced like the shoe on your foot). I thought to serve it with this beer because we used to serve it shaped like the mountains in Aspen and the blue cheese is grated over the top like snow, turning the cabbage ‘blond,’ and the salad is very rustic and very bistro, and perfect with beer. And of course the Nueske’s bacon as we all know is the best bacon in the world!”
Beer tasting notes: The Maredsous Blond 6° has wheat and grass flavors followed with a floral finish.
Third course: ‘Gnome’ Soup (roasted sweet onion soup with cave-aged gruyère crostini)
Beer pairing: La Chouffe, Achouffe, Belgium
Food notes: “When I researched the name ‘La Chouffe’ I discovered that it meant ‘gnome,’ so we decided that a classic roasted sweet onion soup made with beer would be a perfect match, since the raft -or crostini – floating on the soup would have ‘cave-aged’ gruyere chese on it. And we all know gnomes live in mountain caves, right?”
Beer tasting notes:This beer tasted of ……. spicy cardamom notes with a rich golden full body that pairs perfectly with gruyère cheese.
Fourth course: 8° Short Ribs (braised short ribs, oven-roasted root vegetables, dubbel mashed potatoes)
Beer pairing: Maredsous Dubbel 8°
Food notes: “For our Winter Menu, which debuts (this) week, we are going to feature Gig Harbor’s 7 Sea’s Brewery’s Stout in one of our new dishes (described below) … so it was already on our mind to feature a main course with short ribs braised in beer. For the main course we decided to cook the short ribs sous vide; that is – vacuum cook the short ribs in a water bath at low temperature yielding succulent meat of incredible intense flavor. The 8° is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the low temperature of the water bath at which the short ribs are cooked. The mashed potatoes are also prepared with some of the beer cooked into the mash.”
Beer tasting notes: Light-bodied ale with heavy notes of caramel and malt.
From the winter menu: Beef & Brew Pot Roast, ‘7 Seas’ Port Royal Stout-braised short ribs, oven-roasted root vegetables, ‘stout & cheddar mashers’, drunken sauce & horseradish cream.
Fifth course: White Hoodie Pudding (sticky toffee pudding, cherry ice cream, witkap caramel sauce)
Beer pairing: Witkap Dubbele Abbe
Food notes: “The research on the word witkap turned out that it meant white cap, and the photo showed a woman wearing what almost looked like a white hood – or in today’s fashion a hoodie. So I went to our Pastry Chef Erin Powell, and asked her to come up with something fun based on that image.
Beer tasting notes: Lots of citrus and apple notes with a molasses sweetened finish which I thought would be great for a dessert course.
Pacific Grill’s First Beer Tasting Dinner
When: 7 p.m. Jan 26
Where: Pacific Grill, 1502 Pacific Ave. Website here http://pacificgrilltacoma.com/
Details: A five-course chef tasting beer dinner featuring Belgian Abbey Beers
Reservations: Call General Manager Chip Venzone at 253-627-3541 or email firstname.lastname@example.org