Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Highlights from the Brewer’s Plate

The 4th Annual Brewer’s Plate, held Sunday just past at the Independence Visitor Center, was, as expected, a veritable frenzy of food and beer pairing madness. Though navigation of the grand hall could be claustrophobic once all attendees had gained entrance, there were rarely any lines that defied patience. There was enough food, though, to defy even the most wide-eyed and deep-gulleted of appetites. As you all know by now, I can eat. But I’d just about had my fill after the first hour. No worries though. That was perfect timing in that it allowed me, with a free conscience, to head upstairs to check out the event’s feature seminars. Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, conducted a beer and cheese pairing workshop, followed by a presentation on the physiology of taste by local sommeliere Marnie Old. Even without heading upstairs to the "VIP" tasting or the presentation room, there were plenty of highlights for all to see, drink and eat in the main hall.

Chef David Ansill of Ansill Food & Wine served up the funkiest plate of the night, with one of his signature dishes, pig's head terrine. Though it wasn’t paired with Ansill’s terrine, the most unusual brew in the hall was certainly St. Alban’s Old Ale from Dock Street. Based on an 18th Century recipe, it’s brewed with 16 different herbs and tastes like strong brown ale crossed with Amaro.

The prize for simple decadence, at least from what I managed to sample, has to go to London Grill's delicious pan-fried duck wings, which paired quite nicely with Stoudt's Blonde Double Mai Bock.

Yards, the brewery that arguably started Philadelphia's brewing renaissance, was in the house, pouring their flagship Extra Special Ale (ESA).

The most addictive dish of the night just may have been the braised and glazed chicken wings served up by Snackbar chef, Jonathan McDonald. Washing them down with Yards ESA made for one of the best pairings of the evening as well.

The guys from Climax Brewing Company and Choptank Oyster Company were looking a bit shell-shocked (yes, pun intended) as the evening began to wind down.

For many event goers, I'm sure things were a bit fuzzy by the end of the night.


Chicken Fried Gourmet said...

so what flavors were Snackbar's chicken wings?

David McDuff said...

Welcome, CFG,and thanks for stopping by. You're putting my memory to the test and I can't claim to have the recipe down but here goes what I do recall from chef JMcD's description. Fry the wings, then braise for 30-60 minutes in beer (Yards ESA in this case). The finishing glaze was somewhat akin to a mole, though I don't remember tasting (or him mentioning) any chocolate. It did include several herbs, dried peppers for just a lick of fire, and banana as a thickening agent.

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