Books Bites Brews Craft Beer and Food Pairing Dinner

I would love to toast to the success of Books Bites and Brews first Craft Beer and Food Pairing dinner last Saturday. It was one of the first attempts at seriously providing people an avenue to the world of beer. With that in mind, I documented my experience that night for your viewing pleasure.

The Menu for the Night

The dinner was a four course dinner paired with four different beers. For Php 1,400.00 and zero centavos, that’s a deal. The restaurant where the dinner was held, The Blackboard by Chef Michel, had a function room that worked well for the dinner. Chef Michel created a fine menu for the night and I was thoroughly impressed with his culinary technique throughout the four dishes that night. The beers featured that night were from the ever famous and continuously improving Katipunan Craft Ales and the up and coming experimental Craftpoint Brewing Co.

So, enough of the descriptive stuff that I tend to do and let’s focus on the actual dinner. I know that’s why you clicked the link. Food. Yummeh food. We love food. I love food.

First Course:

Homemade Gravadlax with a Lemon-Sour Cream and Dill Sauce Served with Fresh Flat Bread
Paired with Craftpoint’s Summer Sessions Ale

Gravadlax is salmon cured in salt. I personally like the preparation of this dish since it removes the fatty, fishy and creamy flavor of Salmon that I’m not fond of. The Gravadlax was great. It had the great texture of salmon without the unflattering flavor. It was a subtle salmon dish that was slightly salty. It’s cured in salt so it’s bound to be a little salty. Because of the saltiness of the dish, the flat bread provided a layer of sweetness balance the sweet-salty dimension of the dish.

To round out the dish, the dill and lemon-sour cream brought the dish to full circle. The creaminess lost in the curing of the salmon was resuscitated by the lemon-sour cream while the dill provided a subtle aromatic layer. Dill is great with seafood. It’s the classic herb for salmon. The creamy flavor that people love with salmon was replaced with subtle but clean flavors of both the cream and the herb. It was an exemplary showcase of the skills of the chef. I was thoroughly impressed.

With the Summer Sessions Ale, Eli, the host of the event, paired it perfectly. The Belgian Blonde Ale, the style of Summer Sessions,was a safe but obvious choice for the dish. The creamy and oily flavors left on the palate were cleansed by the beer. The sweetness of the beer melded with the flat bread and added another layer of contrast to the salt of the dish. The flavors of the beer added another layer of aromatics to the dill and was a fiesta of flavors that marched down through your tongue. I could have eaten this dish all night. It’s a great dish to have around when you’re having drinks with friends. The night started out really well!

Second Course: 

Prawn and Salmon Raviolis in a Coconut-Ginger and Lemongrass Broth with a Hint of Curry
Paired with Craftpoint’s Liberation Pale Ale 

Salmon and prawn are great seafood flavors. Salmon, when prepared well is great. I appreciated the way it was prepared in the previous dish so I had even higher expectations for this dish.

The dish was good. The coconut-ginger and lemongrass broth was light and flavorful that melded well with the salmon and the prawns.  Even though I’m not a big fan of curry, I wish the hint of curry was bowlful of curry. The salmon and prawns ratio was more towards the salmon which necessitated stronger aromatics to counteract the heavy flavors of the salmon. The broth brought a contrast of lightness to the creamy and heavy flavor of the salmon but I really wanted a bowl full of curry to elevate the dish. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the dish. The dish is brimming with potential and I expect it to be an even better dish. Maybe deep frying it would be awesome. I could only imagine.

With regards to the pairing, I thought the the pairing was okay. I would’ve preferred it with the Summer Sessions instead. Why? The light broth would’ve worked better with lighter body of the Summer Sessions compared to the medium body of Liberation and the aromatics of the Summer Sessions ale would’ve been a better match to the raviolis. Personally, if the Marvin, Raffy and Chip (the guys behind Craftpoint) would make a White IPA (A Belgian Wheat Beer brewed with more hops), the pairing would be divine. Like a rapier (DoTA reference).

Third Course: 

Black Peppercon and Coffee Crusted US-Tenderloin with Pan Juice Reduction and Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Paired with Katipunan Craft Ale’s 1 Porter Road 

All I can say with this dish is sex. Yes, I said it. I love beef. I love US Beef. I love it’s corn fed, grain fed goodness with the marbling of fat inside the layers of protein with that just tough enough texture where every bite is like cleaning dishes with a sponge with enough dishwashing liquid. The bubbles coming out of the sponge is like the flavor that would come out with every bite of the steak, much satisfaction  (doge doge doge) indeed.

The over-roasted sweet potato was good. I think the majority of the people at the dinner were impressed with the sweet potato. For me, it was good. I used to eat that all the time when I was training for triathlons. I loved soaking the sweet potatoes in the juices of the steak. Now that was really really good.

For my steak, I didn’t get a lot of coffee flavors and I like it that way. Coffee with my steak is not my thing. The other people at my table were not able to finish theirs so I got an equivalent of an extra steak for me. Super super happy tummeh. The steaks that I got from the others (Thea and Tere, thanks again!) had more coffee. It was okay. The beef was cooked well although I hoped it was rarer. The cook was more medium than medium rare and I’m real steak lover. None of that well done steak. That’s a sign of disrespecting the bovine that died for your pleasure. This was my favorite dish of the night. To add to that , the cilantro sprig was a nice touch to provide a slight aromatic to cut through the awesome beefiness of the steak.

1 Porter Road was the beer pairing for the dish. Personally, I didn’t like it. I would have preferred Dear Fred instead. The porter was good with a strong soy note which was to my liking but it didn’t work for me. Dear Fred is similar if not better to Rogue’s Mocha Porter. It’s a good brew for the price.

I wanted the beer to lift and cleanse the palette, not add to the heavy flavors of the dish. The porter is a medium to heavy brew. While the concept on paper was ideal, I preferred Dear Fred because of the lighter and higher carbonation of the beer. I did do it when the glasses for Dear Fred arrived and I was really happy with the pairing.

Last Course: 

Fresh Baked Grand Marnier Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust and Confit Orange Zests
Paired with Katipunan Craft Ale’s Dear Fred

The dessert for the night was made with great ambition and technique. I liked it a lot except for the orange zests and the saltiness of the cake. Nonetheless, I liked it. It needs a little tweaking but it’s a promising dish like the second course.

It’s a straight up cheesecake with Grand Marnier. I know that the Grand Marnier (an orange flavored liquer) was meant to pair with the orange. Personally, I don’t like cooked orange zests. I like them as strips with a little bit of glazing, not diced. The orange zests served on top were too bitter for my taste which heavily contrasted the salty component of the cheesecake. It was a good cheesecake and I believe it will be better in its future incarnations.

With Dear Fred, the pairing was good. The coffee component of the beer matched well with the cheesecake but as I said earlier, I preferred it with the steak. I did try the cheesecake with 1 Porter Road and I liked it. I wish the pairing was done differently with the last two courses but it’s okay. It was the first of many more to come from Mr. Books Bites Brews!

After the dinner, people from the Beer Club of Manila were chatting around and having a good time. I had a good time with the people in my table. I was humbled that my seatmate read my blog regularly. I am happy to know that I’m meeting people who love beer as well.

My Table and the Awesome People
My Table and the Awesome People

I also had to take a picture with sir Sanju. I always tell him that I was happy to read his article on 3M Pizza Pie. I like the stuff that they put out in their blog. It has the right balance of journalism and blogging for food.

With One-Third of Table for Three, Please
With One-Third of Table for Three, Please

It was also a great opportunity to have a picture with some of my favorite brewers. It’s too bad that the Katipunan guys left earlier.

The Craftpoint Guys with Mr. Books Bites Brews and Beerman

After talking to the guys from Craftpoint and Katipunan, I’m happy that I also got to meet an up and coming brewery that will set up their brewery in the coming months, Xavier Beer. More Power Guys!

At the end of the dinner, it was a night full of satisfied tummies and palettes.

Be sure to follow:

Mr Eli Convocar at http://www.booksbitesbrews.com

Mr Sanju and the awesome other twosome at http://tableforthreeplease.com/

Aldous, Chip and Marvin of Craftpoint Brewing Co. at https://www.facebook.com/CraftpointBrew

Raffy, Kiyo and the guys behind the Indio Pale Ale at https://www.facebook.com/KatipunanCraftAles

I forgot to get a picture with him but he knows his stuff and he writes great stuff. I wish I could write as concise as Mr Concon at http://www.conconsanantonio.net/

The venue and great restaurant by Chef Michel at https://www.facebook.com/TheBlackboardPH

I hope you enjoyed my lengthy post!

Update:
I made a mistake of calling Summer Sessions a Belgian Wheat Beer. I have since updated the post to appropriately call it a Belgian Blonde Ale
Beerman out!

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