Awhile back in September, Ashley “surprised” me on my birthday with a beer and dinner pairing. I use quotations because I had an inclination she was going to be doing one, but kept my mouth shut like a good boy should. Since food and good beer are two things we both truly love, I went ahead and planned one out for her. Since we are so damn busy with work, wedding stuff, and extracurricular engagements, we finally got around to it last night.
Course #1: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and Cheese Plate
In honor, of Dogfish Head so graciously leaving the state of Indiana, I figured I might as well get some out of my cellar. It was either this or 3 Floyds Dreadnaught and I chose to save the latter to make a trip down to Florida. I chose a cheeseplate instead of a salad because, well, salads can be damn boring. I let Ashley choose and she picked a Jarlsberg, Blue, and a Brie. I went ahead and added some pepperoni and toasted and sliced baguette with honey and red pepper humus for dipping. Since I was doing 100 things at once in the kitchen, the bread got a little crisper than I wanted, but it all worked out. The cheese didn’t last very long and the leftover bread went to my pet mouse, Grist, who lives in my compost bin. It’s not really my pet, but I claim him and feed him often. I’ll be pissed if he comes in my house, I guess that’s why we have a cat.
Course #2: Mad River Brewing 2009 John Barleycorn Barleywine and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
Although Mad River hails from California, to us, Mad River represents the ski area in Vermont. This 2009 barleywine was gracefully aged and stood out as our favorite beer amongst the whole dinner. Ashley was even lucky enough to get the last few drops of yeast! A very sweet and malty beer that was pretty cloudy at first but then mellowed out. The baby Portobello mushrooms were filled with sweet sour cream, paprika, and sweet spices filling and topped with bacon and panko bread crumbs. I was running out of trays, so I actually cooked them in a muffin pan which worked great. We were now noticing a little bit of fullness going on and soon, a larger challenge stood ahead.
Course #3: White Birch Quad and homemade baked macaroni and cheese with spinach stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon.
I got this beer for sending some Hopslam to Massachusetts. White Birch is an up and coming brewery out of New Hampshire that is on my “to-get” list for my next trip back in June. The beer was pretty good and went along great with the stick-to-your-ribs meal I had made. I know (because I do listen, sometimes) that Ashley has a thing for baked mac and cheese so I tried my hand at making it myself. It was a combination of cheddar, parmesan, and a little bit of the Jarlsberg cheese. Topped butter soaked panko bread crumbs that only Paula Dean could love. The chicken breasts were stuffed with sautéed yellow onion and spinach filling with spices. Two layers of bacon then wrapped the chicken together and the finished product was lightly sprinkled with bread crumbs (we love our carbs). I only ate half my chicken and a little bit of mac and cheese, the fullness has set in.
Course #4: Dark Horse Tres (blueberry stout) and a chocolate chip cookie with Ben and Jerry’s Maple Blondie
Ashleys favorite meal is dessert. Hands down. So I decided to make up a “monster cookie” and instead of just making giant cookies, I just put it in a bread pan to make it easier to cut. Fail. It took forever to cook, but it all worked out. Up to this point, we were friggin stuffed, but nibbled on desert anyways. I had now acquired a well-deserved food baby. Tres is an excellent stout from Dark Horse that I had at Fest of Ale during the summer. It has a nice fruity aroma, but a very rich chocolatey finish. From the cellar, it was my go-to dessert beer and I made a good choice.
After about 50 things of dishes, silverware, and plates were cleaned…we called it an evening and laid around like walruses.