Cook Hall’s grand finale of its 2014 Beer Dinners was grand indeed, and the pairings with Community Beer Company’s local selections made it even better. We were welcomed at the door with a glass of “bonus” beer (score), putting us all in a jolly mood right off the bat.
Roasted Cauliflower and Parmesan Soup greeted us shortly after we were seated at the community style tables. I felt right at home because this soup perfectly emulated my grandmother’s signature holiday casserole dish (only much lighter, and sans the two cans Cream of Mushroom Soup). It was fresh and light, loaded with freshly-shaven Parmesan and garnished with herbed oil. This was paired with Pepe Nero from Goose Island. I found the Pepe Nero to be fairly mild, and a smooth introduction to the meal.
Out came the Sesame Chicken Nuggets with Black Pepper and Lime Aioli, paired with a Trinity Tripel from Community Beer Company. These nuggets of deliciousness were perfectly juicy, not overcooked, and crusted to perfection. I wanted three plates … but I knew there was so much more to come that I resisted the urge. (Tough life.) The Trinity Tripel was a perfectly golden, citrusy and spicy brew that went nicely with the lime aioli. This was my favorite beer of the night, by far. Shout-out to the local Community Beer Company!
Just when I thought my palette couldn’t be merrier, the Foie Gras Brûlée with Spiced Fig Jam and Toasted Brioche was presented. It was delightfully buttery and there was just enough salt to cut the richness from the brûlée. The Spiced Fig Jam screamed “holiday”, and that decadent combination was complimented by the Belgian strong dark ale, Inspiration, another Community concoction that boasts a 9.6% ABV. (It’s a damn good thing they serve such a large meal to go with all of this beer.)
I’m a fan of all ribs … but I definitely love me a good short rib. These glazed short ribs, served with herbs, roasted carrots and puree, were a thing of true beauty. Not only did they melt in your mouth, but they were packed with a powerful punch of sweet and savory and blended perfectly with the Delirium Noel (Brouwerji Huyghe). This beer is a strong, dark amber ale loaded with citrus notes and, in my opinion, was an excellent pairing. PLUS the bottle had cute little pink elephants in Santa hats, so, what could go wrong there?
It was time for the grand finale of the grand finale … Banana Crème Pie, Walnut Shortbread and what sounded like the most interesting beer of the evening – Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Ale from Rogue. It was interesting, indeed. We were instructed to taste the beer first, alone, and then experience it with the food. I was not a fan of the beer by itself, as it was quite dark, dense, and very bitter. Yet, when paired with the Banana Crème Pie, it miraculously transitioned into a sweet, chocolate cappuccino-like dessert in and of itself. The fresh whipped cream just melted and caramel mixed with walnuts and fresh banana chunks oozed out of every bite.
At this point, my table seemed to be fading into a heavenly food-and-brew coma, but I was steadfast in my pursuit. I finished it. Every last little bite. Oh, night divine.
Check out cookhalldallas.com to find out when the next Beer Dinner will be hosted … and get your stomach ready for this gastronomic extravaganza.