|February 12, 2009|
Thursday night, February 12, the Toronado and the Homebrew Chef put on a beer dinner entitled “A Night of Ales” featuring the beers of Firestone Walker. It was a seven-course dinner, including the Intermezzo. It was an amazing evening and the packed house all appeared to be equally impressed by both the meal and the pairings.
The Peacock Lounge, across the street from the Toronado Pub, was totally transformed for the evening.
As you can see while the guests streamed in before the dinner began.
Back in the kitchen, chef Sean Paxton, prepares for his beer dinner.
Matt Brynildson, Firestone Walker’s brewmaster extraordinaire, was on hand along with Jamie Smith, Firestone Walker marketing manager, and co-founder David Walker.
The first course was a warm prawn salad; consisting of Firestone Walker’s Pale 31 marinated prawns mixed with baby arugula, slow-roasted roma tomatoes, hopped quail eggs, beer-soaked white beans and tossed in a citrus Pale 31 vinaigrette made with Stonehouse Olio Nuovo olive oil, paired with Firestone Walker’s Pale 31.
Matt Bonney, from Brouwer’s and Bottleworks in Seattle, in town for SF Beer Week, and Toronado owner Dave Keene.
The second course was called “Local Bits to Nosh On.” It was a cheese plate of Point Reyes Reserve Blue, Rouge et Noir Yellow Buck Camembert, and Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk. In addition, there was carbonated grapefruit and Cara Cara orange segments marinated in Firestone Walker’s Union Jack malt and hop spiced cashew seeds served with Union Jack wort honey and homemade malt crackers.
Jesse Houck, from 21st Amendment, and Arne Johnson, from Marin Brewing.
Next up: Union Barrel Smoked Sea Scallops. Described as cold smoked jumbo sea scallops, seared and served on a roasted fennel-celery root puree with a DBA demi-glaze. It was served with Firestone Walker’s Double Barrel Ale.
Jen Garris, who volunteered to help serve the dinner, sporting her fine fashion sense and flying the flag.
Our fourth course was a kind of duck pastrami. Beer and spice brined Petaluma duck breast cooked sous vide with Double DBA spiked cole slaw, 2000 Island gastrique and artisanal rye crostini. It was paired with Double DBA, the first time the new Firestone Walker beer was served in public.
For the Intermezzo, Sean did his patented liquid nitrogen show, using Little Opal to make sorbet tableside. Paxton has done this at most of his dinners I’ve been to, but it never fails to impress; it’s quite a spectacle.
Jennifer, from the Toronado, with Bonney and Vern; who own Brouwer’s and Bottleworks in Seattle.
The main entree: Reserve Braised Veal Cheeks. These were robust porter braised veal cheeks with baby fennel, organic maroon carrots, leeks, thyme and bay leaves, served over a wort polenta. It was served with Robust Porter, part of Firestone Walker’s reserve series. The veal had been cooked for fourteen hours at 180 degrees and was so tender it required no knife. It was like butter. Really. And the wort polenta tasted amazing.
Before each course, Sean explained what he did to create each dish and it was obvious that every single detail was painstakingly thought out. It’s great fun just to hear him talk about food, his passion for it is uncontainable.
Dessert consisted of Velvet Merkin chocolate cake with Saucerful of Secrets infused ice cream and chocolate truffles filled with Firestone XII caramel. The chocolate candies were hand made with Pete Slosberg. This was served with three beers; Saucerful of Secrets (a Belgian-style strong ale), Velvet Merkin (an oatmeal stout, and one of my favorite beer names) and Firestone XII (an American strong ale). Damn was it decadent and delicious.
The beer and the food: Matt Brynildson and Sean Paxton. I love Sean’s expression in this photo. He’s seems to be saying, “ta da!”
Matt and Sean toast the evening, a rousing success.