I’m rushing to get all these “special event” food posts out before they’re past their prime and the world forgets that it even happened. Especially late will be the Blue Point Tap Takeover at Ashley’s Westland post, which happened about 2 or 3 weeks ago – C’est La Vie.
John contacted me about 2 weeks ago about a Pitmaster’s Dinner in Royal Oak at Lockhart’s BBQ that was featuring Arcadia Ales. At first I was a little hesitant to attend, but I eventually gave in to the promise of great food, great beer, and great company – I am so glad that I did. The dinner was $50.00 a person but it was well worth it, and I even have some leftovers that I will devour tonight for dinner. The dinner was 4 courses each with a pairing of beer. Arcadia’s beers tend to be extremely bold and flavorful, and the ones that were picked also were fairly high in alcohol content. Lockhart’s has these dinners about once every 6-8 weeks and each one is given a theme. The selection of meat for the dishes for this particular occasion was shank. Even as we first arrived I knew we were going to have a great meal.
The first course (as you can see in the picture below) was Sticky BBQ Hog Wings from Fried Green Tomatoes paired with Loch Down Scotch Ale. We found out from chef Scott that the hog wings were from piglets so that they were especially tender. This course was probably my favorite. The meat, the fried green tomatoes, and the beer when consumed together made for the most mind-blowing sensation to my tastebuds. The meat was sweet and tender, when I tried to cut it off the bone it just fell off as you can see in the picture. The fried green tomatoes were firm and crunchy and the breading had just the right amount of flavor. When eaten together, the soft, sweet, tenderness of the meat combined perfectly with the crispy, firm, tartness of the tomatoes.
The scotch ale was surprisingly light. I was a huge fan of that, in fact I had to get a refill because of how delicious it was when paired with the food. Both individually with the meat or tomatoes, as well as when all three were combined. The ale was not very bitter, and had this great mellow sweetness that combined terrifically with the hog wings sauce. When all three parts of this meal were combined it was like fireworks in my mouth. Wait…is that a good thing? That would seem painful. Well you know what I mean.
The second course was Lamb Osso Buco with Arugula and Raddichio Salad paired with Hop Rocket Double IPA. Let’s start with the beer this time. The Hop Rocket Double IPA was incredibly hoppy. I’m usually a huge fan of IPAs, but this one was especially hoppy – very, very bitter. Don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious and it tasted good with the food that was served up with it. In my amateur opinion, I thought it paired much better with the Arugula and Raddichio salad. The bitterness of the beer caused the salad to taste especially sweet. I really can’t remember much about the dressing other than that it was sweet, but the beer definitely made it taste all the sweeter.
When I tried the beer and the lamb together it was okay, but nothing really stuck out to me. The lamb was seasoned wonderfully though. The flavor that stood out the most to me was the delicious fresh pepper – large scrumptious grounds of pepper seasoned the lamb. At first when eating the lamb, my initial impression was that it was a little tough but that was primarily because of the way it was roasted, and the inside just melted in your mouth. The taste was spectacular; John & I even took the marrow out of the bone and savored it. The food outshone the beer for this course, though that’s not to say any of it was anything less than amazing.
During our culinary journey, we were lucky enough to sit by two regular patrons of the establishment. These two have been at every pitmaster’s dinner, and even frequent the establishment more often than not which I suppose would be why they are regulars. They were incredibly nice people and they made for an even more enjoyable meal with someone to talk to and converse with both about the food and about life. I hope to see them again at the next pitmaster’s dinner!
The third course that was presented to us was Veal Osso Buco with redskins, baby zucchini and baby carrots paired with Cereal Killer Barleywine. I wish I could say that I finished this course, but alas I had to box away that which I could not stuff down my gullet. I really can’t comment too much on the food except the veggies because I was so full, that I have a good portion of the veal left in my refrigerator right now. What I had of it was delicious, but I will update this post when I get around to eating it again tomorrow.
But the beer, oh the beer. The first time I had Cereal Killer was at Ashley’s Westland Cask Fest. The beer was served from a cask, and this time it was served from a keg. I could taste a difference. I feel the cask version was much sweeter and less carbonated than the keg version, but the keg version seemed fresher and more crisp. Both were delicious and it paired spectacularly with this dish. The Cereal Killer brought out sweetness in the small amount of veal I tasted. And when paired with the carrots, it was an entirely different flavor profile. Initially the carrots were al dente and fairly spicy, but when paired with the beer the spiciness was mellowed and it tasted almost smokey. It’s hard to remember and describe the particular flavor, but needless to say it was different and satisfying.
Unfortunately I ran out of Cereal Killer as it was my favorite beer of the night, and when i asked for more they informed me that since the keg/barrel was so small I wasn’t allowed to have seconds, or even purchase seconds. Instead I received another scotch ale to finish off what I could before boxing up over half the course.
The final course of the night was a Homemade Cream Puff stuffed with Shipwreck Porter ice cream and drizzled with chocolate ganache – this was paired with some Shipwreck Porter. I’ve also had the Shipwreck Porter while at Ashley’s, but never in Ice Cream form. I can’t say I was a huge fan of the Porter, but I don’t like porters in general. But when I ate it with the ice cream, it almost tasted like a root beer float – an alcoholic root beer float.
I managed to finish the cream puff (or profiterole) before my beer, and when I asked for more ice cream they happily obliged. What a delicious way to finish off the night. I only wish I could get more of that ice cream.
Dear Arcadia Ales, if you are reading this please consider making pints of shipwreck porter ice cream available for sale. Thanks!
John and I had an amazing time, and we even left with some swag! Our server was extremely nice and I only wish we had more time to talk to her like I do with my regular servers at Ashley’s. There’s always next time I guess! Our new friends next to us gave us their pint glasses as well, so we left with double the booty. I gave my second glass to my friend Will. He was excited about it.
As we prepared to leave we were seated right behind the table reserved for Arcadia Ales. Since we enjoyed their beers so much, and we only got to talk to one of the representatives as they wandered during dinner, we decided to go talk to them. We met and had some great discussion with the two brewers in attendance: Stacey Roth and Drew Rice. At some point one of the team had brought out a bottle of their anniversary ale titled only as 15 with a wax seal. It was delicious, apparently that particular bottle was the ale that was stored (brewed?) in bourbon barrels. Shortly thereafter another bottle was brought out with the label saying XV and similar wax sealing the the mouth of the bottle much like Maker’s Mark. This was apparently the same anniversary ale but stored in Chardonnay barrels. The taste was radically different, it was much drier but had a much different flavor profile than the sweeter bourbon barrel version. It was extraordinary to have been a part of that particular tasting.
They even used a picture they took with their camera and posted it on their Facebook page. I was informed of this when I went to Ashley’s Westland and Laura the manager came up to me to have a chat. She said she saw me on Arcadia Ales’ page as she was going through her news feed and recognized me. I was pleasantly surprised. Another crazy connection was that I told Elson about this fantastic dinner and he was sure that he was friends with someone who’s father owned Arcadia or something to that effect. Small world!
And how can I forget Chef Scott who was making his rounds to all the tables to answer any questions and talk about his delicious food. We had some great discussion when he came during the first course, and every course thereafter. He stopped by and asked how the food was, and we always had a few good questions for him to answer. I like to think that we kept him on his toes with our questions, and hopefully didn’t ask things that people normally ask. He was very friendly and it was great that he made it a point to stop by each table as we were eating, not only to make sure we were enjoying the meal but to answer any inquiries we might pose to him.
An amazing dinner and another great night with John. I look forward to the next Pitmaster’s Dinner, and how I can convince more of my friends to join me in enjoying whatever culinary treats will be presented to us. Here’s hoping they use Short’s Brewery again sometime soon!