Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beer class at Provisions 4/27/2010

Angie, STLwinegirl (http://www.stlwinegirl.com/), took a break from the norm this month and hosted a beer and food pairing for Craft Beer Week (http://www.stlbeerweek.com/). I was hoping the beer theme would get a few new folks out to a class and I managed to get a couple of newbies. Unfortunately, the class overall was pretty small. I don’t know if it’s a busy time or year or the wine drinkers refuse to branch out?

As usual, I always learn a lot from Angie since she always does her research beforehand. Germany has the largest number of beer drinkers per capita (40 gallons per person per year) and beer is the third most popular beverage behind water and tea.

I was a little nervous with this class because I’m not the biggest beer fan and there were TWO beers paired with each course. (Yes, you all really missed out big.) Angie’s goal was to introduce an old-style beer versus a newer craft beer, which I thought was creative.

The best part of the class was the food (of course) but more specifically, the combination of the beer and food REALLY stood out…more than any wine class.

Below is the menu:

BREAKFAST:
Crab and Cheese Frittata
Saison Dupont vs. Goose Island Sofie (http://www.gooseisland.com/)

LUNCH:
Chicken Mole Enchilada
Newcastle Brown Ale vs. New Hollands Mole Ocho.

AFTERNOON SNACK:
Ham and Potato Croquettes, Meatballs, Cheese Straws
O'Haras Irish Red vs. Moylans Danny's Irish Red

DINNER:
Smoked Beef Brisket with Onion-Tomato Au Jus
Aecht Rauchbier vs. Haandbryggeriet Norwegian Wood

DESSERT:
Caramel Cheesecake
Young's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout vs. Boulevard Smokestack Dark Truth Stout

I think breakfast was one of my top favorites because like wine, I prefer lighter beers. Not that I would drink one for breakfast, but it was light enough to go well with eggs. The Saison was still too spicy for me so I prefer the milder Goose Island beer. (I normally drink the 312 so I was definitely biased there.)

I don’t know that I’ve ever had an enchilada (I’m a quesadilla kind of girl) but it was quite tasty and it made sense to pair the fuller flavored beers with it. The Newcastle was way too plain but the Mole Ocho definitely goes well with spicy foods. Woah!

Another top pairing was the smoked beef brisket with smoked beers. These two beers caused me to make the “bitter beer face” by just SMELLING them! I could barely stand to taste them! The Aecht Rauchbier actually had a bacon flavor to it! (Just when I thought I was safe from bacon on the menu!) As for the Haandbryggeriet…it tasted like leather.

Luckily both these beers tasted SO much better once paired with the food….definitely tolerable so I could swallow at least but those both immediately were handed over to my friends.
My favorite pairing probably had to be the dessert one since the cheesecake was phenomenal (and a huge slice!) to begin with. I’m not a dark beer drinker so I had my doubts about the stouts. It was a little strange that the Chocolate Stout was better by itself and yet when paired with the dessert, the Boulevard Dark Truth actually was better because it could stand up to the creaminess of the cheesecake.

This is the first class where I wasn’t able to finish my neighbor’s leftovers either! I even tried not to drink too much beer.

I still don’t have any other classes lined up since I still have a couple more months of football left, but unfortunately, there is no more monthly cheese class at Whole Foods. Luckily, the Wine Merchant still has some cheese classes but they are on the same nights at football practice. So hopefully I can pick up my class attendance in the second half of the year.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The New Chez Leon

I got to try out the new Chez Leon in Clayton for my Dad’s birthday earlier this month. Really it just moved from the Central West End. We selected the prie fixe meal option for $40 so we got to select courses from three different sections. (http://www.chezleon.com/Chez_Leon/__Dinner_Menu_~.html)

I decided to start with the cheese plate as an appetizer while my stepmom got escargot. The cheese plate included six or seven slices ranging from soft to hard and included quite a few crackers and dates on the side. I would have preferred larger slices myself but enjoyed the fruit. The escargot doesn’t do anything for me since it has a chewy texture like mussels.

I opted for a salad course instead of a dessert course because the cheese really could have been dessert by itself. I didn’t share any cheese, while I still was able to steal a bit of the chocolaty dessert!

The hardest part was deciding on the main course. I was torn between the filet and the veal. Luckily, my Dad ordered the veal and it was just as delicious as I had imagined. They both were excellent choices so I couldn’t go wrong.

I was a little disappointed that the restaurant really crammed the tables in and we were seated by another early table. There wasn’t much privacy or quiet but it did help for scoping out the food on the other tables. But by the time we left, there were only two small tables left so I guess it’s smart to get in as many tables as they can.