Oktoberfest- Part 1

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."- Ben Franklin

It's that time of year again: pumpkins, falling leaves, beer and brat. I speak of course of the wonderful event known as Oktoberfest. I had decided to partake in a couple different Oktoberfest events. The first was a 5 course meal at Wine Vault & Bistro. Originally, I had invited Ellie and Betty. Ellie's on a strict diet so she had to decline. We invited Betty's friend, Daniel, to join us that evening.

I have to apologize in advance for the quality of my photos. I took pics with my new smartphone and the room was a bit dark. A couple of my beer pics didn't load.

The first course was: Local Yellowtail, Stone Crab, Beer Battered Shallots, Julian Apples 2 Ways: Raw + Roasted Aioli served with Sünner Kölsch beer. The appetizer was clean, refreshing, and light. My favorite was the stone crab which was savory and flavorful. The beer battered shallots were crispy and genius. I love shallots as they have a delighfully mild onion flavor which was complemented by the beer batter. The apples were less successful to me but they added a little sweetness and texture.  (No photo of the beer.)
The Sünner Kölsch beer was fantastic! It's a regional specialty of Cologne, Germany. It is "clear, bright straw yellow color with a prominent floral hoppiness and a mild bitterness. . . . The result is a clean tasting beer not dissimilar to a Pilsner, but with more fruity esters and a lighter bitterness" (Wine Vault & Bistro menu).
1st Course: Yellowail with Stone Crab, Shallots and Apples

The second course was one of my favorites. We had marinated local mussels with San Marzano tomatoes with carmelized garlic and ricotta on top of ciabatta. The mussels were in a flavorful broth. What brought the dish together for me was the creamy ricotta and the San Marzano tomatoes which were slightly tart. The beer we had was Franzikskaner Hefe Weisse. The beer has "distinct banana, pear, and bubble-gum esters along with mild clove aromas mark this as a classic Bavarian hefewiezen. The fruitiness of the palate is complemented by mild wheat flavors and a light, dry finish" (Wine & Vault Bistro menu).

When the beer expert (sommelier doesn't seem right) mentioned bubble gum, I was a bit skeptical and nervous. Sure enough, I could tell there were definite hints of bubble gum but it was not cloying sweet. The beer was good but not something I will seek out.

2nd course: mussels, tomato, garlic and ricotta on ciabatta

Franziskaner Hefe Weisse
The third course was another favorite: Housemade Shelton Farms Chicken "Sausage", Tomato Mostarda, Root Vegetable Slaw with Caraway. The reason the chicken "sausage" was not a true sausage is that there was no casing. In fact, the chicken "sausage" was in a fun circular shape.
It was my first time having chicken "sausage" and I enjoyed it. The meat was moist, juicy, and well-seasoned. The tomato mostarda was also something new. It is a typical Italian condiment- fruit and mustard. I also thought the root vegetable slaw added a nice textural contrast as the veggies had been julienned and were crispy.
3rd course: Chicken sausage, mostarda, with slaw

The beer, Spaten Oktoberfest, was "an amber colored, medium bodied beer with roasted malt flavors balanced with the perfect amount of hops. Its richly textured palate has a hit of underlying sweetness true to tradition". This beer was a balance of light and dark beer which supposedly would appeal to the most beer drinkers. While I liked it, it was not as good as the first beer. (No photo available.)

The fourth dish was Wagyu Brisket "Pot Roast" with Tuscan Kale, carrots, turnips and their greens in Roast Jus. The concept was clever putting some of the best beef in the world and treating it as pot roast. Unfortunately, my Wagyu was mostly fat. Seriously, big white chunks of lumpy fat with perhaps 3 small bites of actual beef. I was rather disappointed to have such a measly edible portion of the beef. The Tuscan kale was quite good if a little bitter. I'm not that familiar with kale but I thought that it was a good foil to the beef. The other veggies were nondescript. Another first- a turnip. I honestly think that turnips don't have a distinct flavor which makes them forgettable to me.
4th dish: Pot roast and veggies

The fourth beer was Schneiden Hopfen Weise which unfortunately none of us liked. We each took one sip and promptly left our glasses full. It's extremely hoppy and I discovered that night, I am not a fan of the hoppy beer. Sorry to those of you who are.
Schneider Hopfen Weise
Finally, our 5th and final course was Basil Tres Leches with Brown Butter Ice Cream and Valrhona White Chocolate and Espresso Crumble. (I got mine sans ice cream as I can't eat it anymore.)

Now, the basil tres leches was one of the most intriguing desserts that I have ever had. Tres Leches I have had before and enjoy the caramely sweetness of that moist cake. But the basil had added a surprising twist cutting into the sweetness. In fact the tres leches was almost savory with the addition of the basil. I would have like to try regular tres leches alongside the basil version to see which was better. The first bite was iffy. Then it grew on me.
Having the white chocolate and espresso crumble added both texture and flavor to the dish. Valhrona is one of the best chocolates in the world and is rather pricey. Of course, if you are going to use the chocolate as a garnish or in a similar prominent matter, you want high quality chocolate that is silky not chalky.
5th course: Basil Tres Leches cake with ice cream

The beer was Weihenstephaner Korbinian which is in the "double bock" style. It was a dark and strong beer. We found this more palatable than the previous beer. "This smooth, creamy, medium-to-full bodied beer offers complex, roasted malt aromas of coffee, chocolate, caramel, bread and raisins, and delivers plenty of malt with notes of peppery spice, alcohol and hop bitterness. At the same time, this is eminently drinkable and highly regarded by lovers of the style" (Wine & Vault Bistro, menu).

Weihenstephaner Korbinian
It was a delightful meal but had a few flaws. I did learn a lot about beer that night.


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