Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tomato Harvest & Beer

The beer dinner at Washington D.C.'s Cafe Saint-Ex on Monday 27 September 2005 was a celebration of the harvest season and of the initial release of Clipper City Brewing's newest Heavy Seas beer - Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale.

Chef Barton Seaver created a 5 course menu, each meal using organic heirloom tomatoes, each paired with a different Clipper City beer.

Cafe Saint-Ex and Clipper City Brewery
A Tomato Harvest Beer Dinner

Five beers, including two casks, from Clipper City's Heavy Seas line
paired with
Five Tomato based dishes created by Executive Chef Barton Seaver
(All the tomatoes used are local organic)

Balto Marzhon
Puree of tomato soup garnished with woodgrilled onions

Small Craft Warning Uber Pils
Sliced tomatoes and portabellos drizzled with minted herb oil

Red Sky at Night Saison
Grilled fresh shrimp with endive and tomato compote

Peg Leg Imperial Stout (served from a firkin)
Grilled lamb finished with tomato leaf & hazelnut pesto;
served on a bed of carmelized tomato risotto

Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale (served from a firkin)
House-made Tomato Basil Ice Cream

Cizauskas at Cafe St-Ex Beer Dinner
For the lamb dish, Chef Seaver emphasized the minty/herbal aroma of the stems of a tomato plant.

Seaver was intrigued by the herbal character of the Loose Cannon, and proposed pairing a fresh cask of it with a tomato-based dessert. He reduced the fresh tomatoes for an extended period over low heat, resulting in a delicious demi-sweet flavor. (Despite what the US Supreme Court may say, tomatoes are a fruit after all.) When I appeared momentarily skeptical, he laughed. "That's why I'm the chef and you're the beer guy."

And, indeed, infused with basil and drizzled with tomato syrup, his ice cream was an inspired pairing for the herbal/fruity character of the cask-conditioned Loose Cannon, and a delicious conclusion to what one beer-dinner veteran told me was the best he had ever attended.

More photos here.

In defense of the quality of the photos, they were taken using a disposable camera. In a nine month period before the dinner, I had misplaced one digital camera, and I had driven out from under another (after placing it on the roof of my car). For discipline, I had placed myself on a 'digital' diet.

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