Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday night FOOD blow out!

While this week was not near as action-packed as the week before, it was still full of surprises! In addition to attending my first STLWineGirl (http://www.stlwinegirl.com/) event in awhile, I ended up going to a spur-of-the-moment party at Chef Ashley’s house later that same evening!

Normally I am not a big beer drinker, but I figure I just need to take the time to learn about it, just like I did with wine, so I can appreciate it more. And like with wine, I tend to lean to the lighter side. I don’t want to be weighed down by my alcohol and prefer a refreshing flavor. So it was pretty easy for me to pick out my favorite beer of the night: Great Divide Tripel Belgian Style Ale. A close second goes to the Bell’s Winter White Ale that was served as the reception beer.

I could probably write a lot more about the beers I don’t like; the strange beer that came in a wine bottle, IPAs (too much aftertaste!), or anything dark that requires a fork and knife to drink it (Porter). After the last and heaviest beer, the bitter taste caused me to make that “bitter beer face” just like on the commercials: the Dieu du Ciel “Aphrodisiac” warmed.

As for the food pairings…they were out of this world as usual. I am never disappointed and always come away feeling like I’ve eaten two meals even though they’re tasting portions. The salad came with a delightful “Blackberry Vinaigrette” which went well with the fruity beer to start with. Next came the IPAs, so an equally spicy Chicken and Sausage Gumbo was paired with it. Chef Scott said that Cajun food is his favorite to cook and this was excellent, although it’s a little too spicy for me.

One of my favorites was the Wiener Schnitzel with Gruyere Spatzle. (Say that a few times for fun!) The schnitzel tasted like “chicken fried steak” to me but it was covered with a fried egg on top so it became more like a greasy comfort food, especially since the spatzle (looked like bow tie pasta) was covered in melted gruyere. This was paired with my favorite Tripel.

As with wine, the beef item was paired with a heavier and darker beer. I almost didn’t mind the heavy porter since the beef item was actually a mini bison burger with tomato relish. I don’t get to eat hamburgers too often so this was such a treat! I definitely wanted seconds.

And no matter how good the food is, the dessert is always outstanding. I often think Chef Scott should just become a pastry chef because they are so incredible. We finished with a chocolate bread pudding with vanilla bean mousse. Both flavors of the mousse and the bread pudding just melted in my mouth. At this point, I was ready to start picking leftovers off of my friend’s plates.

Luckily, I didn’t mind leaving a little bit of beer in my tasting glasses because I still had more partying left to go. Someone suggested that Chef Ashley throw a last minute get together…and I seconded! Hehe By the time I got there, I was wishing I hadn’t filled up on my first meal because Chef Ashley had a lot of goodies prepared for her guests! I saw a couple of familiar friends…a bowl of guacamole and the vegetarian chili that I’d had a couple of weeks ago. But I also made a NEW friend: Thai vegetable soup! A miso-based soup that included the following: red chili paste, coconut milk, leeks, new potatoes, fresh green beans, bamboo shoots, roasted red pepper, garlic, lemon grass, lots of ginger and curry. It was FULL of flavors to go with all the vegetables in every bite, which is how I prefer my soups. Since it was a Thai soup, it was a bit on the spicy side and so I had to finish off my meal with one scoop of the vegetarian chili.

Since I was eating such spicy and hearty foods, a red wine was definitely in order and I washed my…wait…what meal comes after dessert?...last course with a Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage 2005. Cabs are so smooth. J

In other cheese news…unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I was stuck with quite a bit of cheese leftovers for a birthday party that didn’t happen over the weekend. The scale at the gym is definitely showing proof of all the cheese I’m “being forced to eat” to clean out my fridge. I had a slightly aged red wax Gouda, Kerry Gold’s Dubliner, and now I’m working on Kerry Gold’s Aged Cheddar. I can never tell which I like better…the Dubliner or the Cheddar…which is why I always have to buy BOTH of them. Then I had an Alouette coupon to use so I picked up some crumbled feta for salads and a brie. I’m looking forward to finding out how creamy the brand is…stay tuned for details!

I have been really bumming all week because it looks like I’m going to have to work late on my monthly cheese class night at Whole Foods Galleria (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/st-louis/storecalendar.php). The class is on November 17th at 6:30pm. But in a way it has all worked out because it is a “blue” cheese class and that is my least favorite cheese.

On that same night, the Wine Merchant (http://www.winemerchantltd.com/html/clayton.html) in Clayton is also having a cheese class, starting at 6pm.

Other than that, nothing else planned except for the big turkey day. My stepbrother and sister-in-law are excellent cooks. But that doesn’t mean the next adventure isn’t waiting right around the corner!