Shawn Malone and Patrick Dinh of Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, Virginia — General Manager and Executive Chef, respectively — hosted chef and cookbook author Lucy Saunders last evening with a dinner and double cask tapping.
Special guest was Clipper City Brewing's General Partner Hugh Sisson who brought along 6 of his beers, including two casks.
Chef Patrick Dinh 'tweaked' the recipes in Ms Saunders' cookbook— Best of American Beer & Food — creating a menu with Asian flair while not being overtly Asian food.
Pictured to the right are two of the evening's courses. In the foreground is Angry Shrimp, Szechuan Style. (In Ms. Saunders' book, the recipe is actually with Lobster.)
The shrimp had an elegant spiciness with a good concentration of flavor. Shawn paired it with Clipper City's Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale, pulled fresh via handpump from a 'pin' cask. The beer's hoppiness complemented the dish's spice.
In the background is the starter course: Lager Steamed Mushroom Dumplings with Balto MärzHon Sweet and Sour Sauce. It was paired — naturally — with Clipper City's Balto MärzHon. The flavorful sauce, made with the beer, added interest.
Next up was Fennel Crusted Rack of Lamb, with Barley Risotto and Peg Leg Stout Sauce, served with a 2nd fresh cask, but of Peg Leg Imperial Stout. There were many audible oohs and aahs — and empty plates — accompanying this course and compliments on the quality of the lamb itself and the seasoning. During the week, Lucy Saunders had mentioned several times that fennel seems to be a flavor inherent to the fermentation of beer itself.
I often am told that I expound at length about the freshness of cask ale. This evening was no exception, freshness being indeed the meme of beer. And several diners did come up to me afterward to remark on how they now understood the fuss about freshness of cask beer.
The Skirt Steak was an adaptation of the Short Ribs recipe in Ms. Saunder's book. The onion seasoned with cumin and peppers brought complexity to the richness of the meat. I had recommended raclette potatoes to Chef Dinh ... and he ran with the idea!
BEER and CHEESE
A blue cheese from Wisconsin provided a digestif pause before dessert: a sheep's milk blue cheese from Shepherd's Way Dairy in Minnesota, served with a smear of pear coulis. Shawn paired it with Clipper City's Below Decks Barleywine, 2007 vintage. To my palate, malt-forward barleywines and blue cheeses are wonderful flavor-dancing partners.
BEER and PIE
For a pre-dinner planning session, I had managed to find a case of last summer's Hang Ten -- a 10% alcohol by volume (abv) weizen dopplebock. Tasting it, Patrick immediately exclaimed, "This is for dessert!"
And so it was! He prepared a Coconut Cream Pie, which mated deliciously with the beer's banana and fruity esters, sweet cooking spice aromas, and low-tuned fruit maltiness. Together, they accentuated spiciness while smoothing out the luxurious sweetness.
The pie was topped with beer-marshamallows (!), the recipe for which is in Ms. Saunders book.
Hearty applause welcomed Chef Dinh and staff, Shawn Malone, Lucy Saunders, and Hugh Sisson at the dinner's conclusion. Lucy signed several copies of her books Grilling with Beer and Best of American Beer & Food.
By the way, as I am a vegetarian, I did not partake of several of the dishes, but certainly did observe and inquire.
During the evening, I had the opportunity to sit with Dave Turley, author of the beer blog Musings Over a Pint. We two bloggers had a very enjoyable chat.
Go here for the complete menu, and here for more photos.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Saunders and I had traveled a dozen miles further west for a special lunch at Tuskies' sister restaurant in Purcellville: Magnolias at the Mill. Go here for that.