Wednesday, October 27, 2010
You could tell this one had Moshe's touch, too. Most cheese, veggie and dip courses don't have ten-year old Gouda cheese in abundance, and that the course was accompanied by Mike Sella's Scottish (NOT Scotch) ale also indicated an avant-garde approach. Moshe's Kohlsuppe, paired with Avery's Ellie's Brown Ale, was a huge crowd (and belly) pleaser, as was his Tomaten Salad. The Brat course, served with Mike's ale-based Oktoberfest was melt-in-your-mouth good, but Moshe's Rouladen entree was just killer. Accompanied by Moshe's favorite German Oktoberfest beer--Paulaner--nearly every one of the 45 person group mmmm'ed and wowed while putting it away. The Sweet Noodle Pudding came with a dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream prepared with Hailey's Ale from Hailey's Harp and Pub in Metuchen, becoming known for its beer dinners as well. Proprietor Chris Flynn was in attendance. The dish was joined by Left Hand Brewing's Milk Stout and the pairing got great praise.
Lots of new faces were at this event, but the old standbys were also well represented--Dave, Gri, Uncle Frank, Deb (and that guy she's next to, Gary), Jim and others.
There was of course, the usual Oktoberfest Music and Mayhem, but at night's end--after 10:30--everyone went home sated and happy. Uno's next beer dinner will probably take place after the hoildays, so stay tuned for notices here.
Check out the pictures top right, and for some video, head to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R39VPDI8PZw or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95QXOZPtVG8 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6efE-zLcmo
TO SEND ONE REGIONAL BREWER AND ONE LOCAL BEER DRINKER
TO BELGIUM FOR COLLABORATION BREW
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- One regional brewer and one local beer drinker and will get a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to Belgium to help brew a Philly Beer Week (PBW) collaborative beer with world-renown brewer Dirk Naudts of De Proef Brouwerij. The two lucky winners will be selected during a fun party on Wednesday, November 17 starting at 7 p.m. at McGillin’s Olde Ale House (1310 Drury St., 215-735-5562) in Center City.
Beers lovers can enter a raffle ($5 per ticket or 5 tickets for $20 to benefit PBW) to select the brewer that they would like to send to Belgium. At 8:30 pm, one raffle ticket will be picked and the person who entered, along with the brewer named on their entry, will win the free trip.
A partial list of participating breweries will include: Dock Street Brewing Co., Dogfish Head, Flying Fish Brewing Company, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Lancaster Brewing Company, Manayunk Brewpub, Nodding Head, Sly Fox Brewery, Stoudt’s Brewing Company, Twin Lakes Brewing Company, Troegs Brewing Co, Victory Brewing Company, Weyerbacher Brewing Company and Yards Brewing Company, whose brewers will be on hand for the drawing.
“This is a project that perfectly embodies the spirit of America’s Best Beer-Drinking City,” said Don Russell, a.k.a. Joe Sixpack, the executive director of Philly Beer Week. “Thanks to so many Belgian-style bars and locally brewed Belgian-style beers, Philadelphia has a worldwide reputation as ‘Brussels on the Schuylkill.”
In February 2011, Naudts will work with the winning duo to produce a special porter that will be unveiled during the annual celebration to be held June 3 through 12, 2011. The porter will be part of DeProef’s ongoing Brewmaster’s Collection series and will be poured alongside hundreds of other great craft beers, including another Philly Beer Week collaborative beer created by a group of the region’s brewers.
“Porter is a classic Philly style,” said Russell, who noted that, for Philly Beer Week ’10, area restaurateurs brewed the collaborative ExPorter with Sierra Nevada. “It has been brewed here since before the Revolution. It’s an extremely flexible style that allows all kinds of interpretation by inventive brewers.”
Philly Beer Week, which will be held June 3 to 12, 2011, is a 10-day celebration of the Best Beer-Drinking City in America, highlighting the region’s diverse beer scene – its world-class breweries, neighborhood taverns, trend-setting restaurants and rich beer culture and history. Established in 2008, it’s the largest beer celebration of its kind in the United States, featuring hundreds of festivals, dinners, tours, pub crawls, tastings and meet-the-brewer nights at area bars, restaurants and other locations throughout Greater Philadelphia. The event is organized and operated by Philly Beer Week Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization overseen by a board comprised of brewery owners, distributors, restaurant owners and others, to promote Philadelphia’s beer and hospitality industries.
Each year since 2007, brewmaster Dirk Naudts of De Proef Brouwerij in the village of Lochristi has collaborated with a highly regarded American brewer to create a series of one-of-a-kind ales. The beers, distributed nationally by SBS-Imports of Seattle, Washington, have met with critical acclaim and have been chosen as a monthly selection by the prestigious Michael Jackson Rare Beer Club.
“I am very excited to add Philly Beer Week to the outstanding list of partners in the De Proef Collaboration Series,” says Alan Shapiro of SBS-Imports. “PBW is the benchmark beer week throughout the U.S. and I have no doubt this beer will be highly sought after by specialty beer enthusiasts across the country.”
2007 - Signature Ale with Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing.
2008 - Les Deux Brasseurs with Jason Perkins of Allagash Brewing.
2009 - Van Twee with John Malle of Bell’s Brewing.
2010 - Monstre Rouge with Spike Bukowski of Terrapin Brewing.
2011 – Yet-to-be-named Philly Beer Week brew with yet-to-be-named brewer.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
Even in the business of emceeing beer dinners, there's a first time for everything. When I get called to emcee one, I'm used to walking into a restaurant, chatting briefly with the chef (after having previously selected the beers we'll use}, then sitting back and watching the restaurant's workers bring out the various courses and beers. I discuss the pairings, do some shtick and another group of happy beer-dinner go-ers is sated with fine food and fine beer.
My chef buddy Bob "Buddy" Dick and I have teamed up on a number of these very successful beer dinners in the past, but the recent closing of his restaurant made it look like those great events were history. For a chef of Buddy's caliber, however, there is always a market, and he got a call from a group to be a "guest chef" for one of their dinners. He, in turn, called me.
I had never heard of this group (I was late to Facebook, too), but the idea of doing a beer dinner in a VFW Hall in Kenilworth with a bunch of guys who claimed they would do the cooking ignited my interest. Buddy would be the Master Chef, and the guys would be his assistants. "What the hell," says I. "As long as the beer is there and I eat what Buddy himself prepared, I'll be all right." So I assented.
Had I had enough time (or sense) to read the background of these guys, I wouldn't have been so surprised to see fifty or so grown men in white coats and chef hats (called "toques" I later learned) hustling about at various tables, each with a different course in different stages of preparation on top. Many of the guys were "Boomers" like me, but there were quite a few younger guys chopping, cranking, molding, mixing and dusting, too, all under the watchful eye of Master Chef Buddy Dick.
They are Les Marmitons , which means chef's assistant or kitchen boy in French ( depending on whether you're talking to the chef or the assistant). Les Marmitons is "a gastronomic and social club of gentlemen who share a common interest in fine food, wine and the culinary arts…." Except this time they were doing an Oktoberfest dinner, and beer, not wine, was the beverage of choice. Hence my presence.
But Buddy Dick was also wise enough to contact Der Brewmeister himself—Roselle Park's Dave Hoffman—who provided two of the beers for the evening, and extremely insightful tableside conversation. Dave had brought along his award-winning Helles as a "Quaffer," which is part of every Marmitons dinner and what they all drink while prepping the food. "This could be interesting," I thought.
Les Marmitons are deadly serious about their work/hobby. Each is supposed to arrive with his own culinary weapons, as well as his culinary attire, which for some is adorned with colored bands, signifying a rank in the club. [See the pictures top right] It is an international organization, I learned, but in the West, the credit seems to go to a Johnny Appleseed-like character named Jean-Pierre Jobin, who, after joining the group in Canada, traveled the US countryside while working as a computer consultant, creating chapters of Les Marmitons as he traveled.
The format for this five-course Oktoberfest meal was SOP for Les Marmitons. The "team" of chefs who prepared the course, cooked it, plated it and served it, and a member of the team stood up mid-course to explain the details of the dish. Every chef at the table paid rapt attention, too. My role was to "explain" the beer choice, and as these guys are accustomed to wine accompanying their food, I had to make the necessary comparisons. "The major difference between wine experts and beer experts," I said, "is that we beer guys would never spit out what we we're drinking--unless it's bad."
The president of the group, Richard Dreher, had sent me the night's menu, complete with the recipes of every dish prepared, and I matched the various courses with beer. One, of course, was Dave Hoffman's Oktoberfest which accompanied the main course of Schwein Skotelehen mit Knockwurst. Translated, that meant Pork Chop with Knockwurst, accompanied by an out-of-this-world Carrot Souffle, Spaetzle and dark Beer Bread. Les Marmitons were as impressed with Dave's beer as we were with their food, and that was just one course. So much food came to the table, topped off by an ice cream float using Young's Double Chocolate Stout (hey, you don't see many skinny chefs or Germans) that we had to waddle away at night's end. Originally, Les Marmitons would do all the cleanup, but they were smart enough to pool their money and pay two other people to do it.
There are usually no women at these events, except around the holidays, which is in keeping with the founding idea of a gentlemen's hobby/club. There are also some strict rules regarding comportment and behavior at these events, as this entry from their website will attest: "Members share a common desire to cultivate and enjoy the gastronomic and social aspects of the club - and excessive consumption as well as the conducting of commercial business is deemed inappropriate at club events."
Les Marmitons (there are two separate chapters in NJ, one in Port Reading and this one, Les Marmitons of Cranford) have eight monthly meetings and special holiday dinners. This was the first which actually had beers as the basis for the entire menu, and it was well received by everyone present.
Anyone who has the good fortune to be invited as a guest would do well to take advantage. You may have to wear a white coat the while, but that's a small price to pay for good food, good company and a good time.
Any readers interested in participating with the Cranford Chapter should contact Richard Dreher.
©Kurt Epps 2010 All rights reserved
Friday, October 15, 2010
Until then, Ein Prosit!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Artisan's "First" Fest another Winner
By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
You sort of knew what kind of night it would be when the crowd burst into cheers, hoots and dogbarks because the tuba player blew his first warmup note of the night.
No doubt, this crowd was primed to rock and roll at what was Artisan's first-ever Oktoberfest Beer Dinner. Though it was technically Artisan's first (because the restaurant changed its name last year), it was the eighth for The Petes, Executive Chef Steve Farley and at least three of the Artisan Dirndl Beauties. And they just keep getting better. Some folks, either newbies or those obviously affected by the excellent beers, even said they heard a few new jokes.
From a first run of 55 Festers in 2002 to an overflow of 102 last night, this event may be the premier Oktoberfest dinner in NJ in terms of attendance. The Artisan Dirndl Beauties (who really make the night run smoothly), the Firehouse Polka Band (in fine form as usual) Brewmeister Dave Hoffman and Steve Farley combined their efforts to produce yet another memorable event. I even got to meet the delightful Kim, who keeps the Cook cooking.There were folks dancing in the aisles and at least twenty rousing choruses of Ein Prosit (though, truth be told, some of the guests had some trouble pronouncing Gemutlichkeit). Nobody, however, gave a damn.
Dave Hoffman's beers are legendary among the beer cognoscenti and these didn't disappoint. His O-fest is one of my personal favorites and the beer I usually start and finish the night with. But on his suggestion, I tried his Pumpkin Ale. Really good pumpkin ales are not easy to make, as pumpkin itself has little taste sans spices. The spices then become the flavor. Dave's had both. It was not the standard—and sometimes cloying--"pumpkin pie in a glass" version, but a hearty, very well balanced and extremely tasty brew—one that could easily be a winter session beer if you don't like Belgians and Stouts. 100 pounds of pumpkins will do that.
Steve Farley's food is equally storied, and this dinner showed why the guest list has doubled at Artisan's. My tablemate Brad's comment said it all: "This is really outstanding." Though he could have applied it to all the courses, he was speaking of the RINDFLEISCH KURZEN RIPPEN, BIER SOSSO, SPATZLE, APFELMUS ODER APFELBRI, PIKANTER KOHL,KARTOFFELPUFFER ODER REIBERDATSCHI
Or for you monolingual types, the SHORT RIBS W/BEER SAUCE, SPATZLE, HOMEMADE APPLE SAUCE, SWEET & SOUR RED CABBAGE, POTATO PANCAKES
Dave and sidekick Roger (with the help of a most comely lass viewable in the pictures) tapped a keg of Dave's Oktoberfest to accompany that main course and the matchup was excellent. In fact, all of them were, according to Brad and Beth, my tablemates who were polite enough not to steal the last shrimp, unlike the pirates across from me.
Many luminaries of the beer world were in the audience as well. Beer-Stained Letter creator Jeff Linkous sat at the same table with beer artist Gregg Hinlicky and chamois-wearing Bavarian icon Kurt Hoffman, father of the brewer.
Artisan's first/eighth Oktoberfest lived up to both its billing and its reputation. Kudos to The Petes for pulling off another rousing success. More importantly, these guys have always made quality a priority, and it clearly shows. Will they be building an addition onto Artisan's to house the next Fest? Maybe arrange for a live video feed of my buddies in the Firehouse Polka Band?
With giveaways, jokes, song, dance, gorgeous servers, great food and great beer what's not to like?
Besides Parkway traffic…
©Kurt Epps 2010 All rights reserved
Thursday, October 7, 2010