It was a bubbly night at the Silver Grille Café in Silverton, Oregon on January 30, 2010. Friends, fans and family of Seven Brides Brewing gathered for a much-anticipated six-course dinner created by Chef Jeff Nizlek, who expertly paired each of his courses with a different brew. Carefully chilled kegs of six of the Seven Brides’ brews were tended by Jeff DeSantis, sales and marketing manager for the brewery. Also in attendance were the other fathers of the brides, Josiah Kelley, Phil and Karl Knoll, along with all of the mothers of the brides.
Dinners pairing food and wine are commonplace in wine-producing areas throughout the world. Such events bring together wine lovers to experience different wines expertly matched with specific foods. Beer-pairing-pairing dinners are much rarer and that’s unfortunate. However, I predict that we will see more and morre such events, especially in Oregon where there are more independent breweries per capita than in any other state.
I was joined this evening by Tamara Glocar Kendall, a professional colleague who brings with her an impressive background of beer-making and culinary expertise. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still using my training wheels with the intricacies of artisan beers, and Tamara provided me with much insight to our meal.
Stiff formalities were cast aside as casual dialogues about the event, the beer and the food were shared among the brewers and the chef.
When I reached legal drinking age, well, maybe a tad earlier, the beers that were available in Texas were Budweiser, Schlitz, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Jax, and Lone Star, among others. I remember much brouhaha when Coors was made available there in the mid-1960s. The difference between most of those beers and many of the beautifully crafted local micro brews available today is like the difference between Wonder Bread and the freshly made sourdough boules from an artisan baker.
Seven Brides Beer Dinner Menu
Tempura of Shrimp and Oregon Dungeness Crab Beignets with Remoulade Sauce
Country Style Pork Terrine with Local Hazelnuts, Winter Greens with a Black Truffle Vinaigrette
Lauren’s Pale Ale
Local Oyster and Clam Boil, Oktoberfest Sausage, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Carrots, Shallots and Herbs
Braised Wagyu Osso Bucco and Camembert Polenta
Black Cat Porter
Cocoa-rubbed Duck Breast, Duck Confit/Farro Risotto and Black Cat Duck Jus
Bitter Chocolate Gateau, Coffee Mousse and Oatmeal Stout Chocolate Syrup
I have dined at the Silver Grille on numerous occasions since moving to Oregon in 2002 and love to recommend it to friends looking for a restaurant to impress guests or celebrate a milestone. The milestone this time was the marriage of the Seven Brides brews with the talents of Chef Jeff Nizlek. Silverton’s place on the culinary map of the Willamette Valley is cemented firmly in place with Chef Nizlek back in charge of the Silver Grille kitchen.
Shortly after Jeff DeSantis poured everyone a shell of Emily’s Ember, our servers presented the first course, Tempura of Shrimp and Oregon Dungeness Crab Beignets with Remoulade Sauce. Bringing Japanese and Creole elements together made a perfect first course. The crunch of the tempura batter was beautifully offset by the soft crab beignets and both paired well with the remoulade sauce. Without directly asking the chef, I have a hunch that a touch of Emily’s Ember was in the tempura batter and the semi-spicy remoulade.
Next we give way for Lauren’s Pale Ale, served with a very Oregonian-style clam boil: local oysters, clams along with Octoberfest sausage, potatoes and carrots steamed with shallots and herbs in Lauren’s Ale. This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy shellfish. Give me a large bowl of this, some crusty bread, a salad and a large stein of beer, and I have a meal. For me, this was one of the brightest stars of the evening.
Maggie’s Marzen arrived at the table along with Chef Nizlek’s Braised Wagyu Osso Bucco with Camembert Polenta. Wagyu is a name applied to several breeds of Japanese cattle that are predisposed to intense marbling. The famed and expensive Kobe beef is among them. Osso bucco is the shank cut of the animal and is traditionally braised due to all the connective tissue. Slow braising breaks this down and delivers a tender succulent piece of meat. And succulent it was. Adding Camembert to the risotto pushed this course to the max. Most polenta recipes use a cheese and most often it is Parmesan. Think of the Camembert as a cheesy, savory ice cream and you’ll understand how rich-tasting it was.
For the last savory course, the chef presented us with a Cocoa-rubbed Duck Breast, Duck Confit/Farro Risotto and Black Cat Duck Jus to showcase Seven Brides’ Black Cat Porter. All of the ingredients here have assertive flavors and Chef Nizlek’s combination made them all work together to create a whole with each individual flavor and texture shining as well. For me the brilliant touch was the use of farro in the risotto.
The chef ended our meal on a bittersweet note appropriately shaped as a tall musical note. Tamara and I agreed that this creation was a resounding success. Like the previous courses, this dessert was beautiful to the eye and it seemed almost criminal to attack with fork and spoon. Somehow we managed to make this piece of chocolate heaven disappear.
Chef Nizlek graciously shared his recipe for this rich, chocolaty ending.
Bitter Chocolate Gateau, Coffee Mousse and Oatmeal Stout Chocolate Syrup
- 10 oz. (300 ml.) cream
- 1 oz. (30 ml.) ground coffee
- 2.5 oz. (75 ml.) sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 6 sheets gelatin (rehydrated)
- 4 oz. (120 ml.) cream, whipped to firm peaks
- Bring the cream and coffee to a boil. Cover and infuse for 15 minutes. Strain.
- Whisk sugar and egg yolks together and temper into cream.
- Place on double boiler and heat to 180 degrees.
- Strain gelatin and mix in to hot custard until completely dissolved.
- Cool on a stand mixer using whisk attachment.
- When cool fold in whipped cream, place in mold and freeze.
Chocolate Stout Cake
Yield: Makes 6 servings
- 1 cup (240 ml.) Oatmeal Ellie’s Stout
- 1 cup (240 ml.) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup (180 ml.) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups (480 ml.) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (480 ml.) sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon (7.5 ml.) baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon (3.75 ml.) salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cups (160 ml.) sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F. (177°C). Butter and flour a small sheet pan, tapping out the excess flour.
- Line with parchment paper. Butter and flour inside of paper.
- Bring stout and butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
- Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend.
- Beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
- Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine.
- Add flour mixture and fold together. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
- Line a small sheet pan (12x1x18) with parchment paper and add the batter, smoothing with a spatula. (Alternatively, bake in similarly prepared smaller baking pan or dish and cut in half horizontally with a serrated knife.)
- Bake cake until done, about 20 minutes (internal temp. 165° F. or 74° C.), remove and cool completely.
- Using a 2¾-inch (7 cm.) round cookie cutter, cut 6 discs of cake for 3 inch (7.5 cm.) tall cylinder molds (pvc). Line molds with parchment using a little soft butter.
- Place molds on sheet pan and place cake rounds in bottom of each one.
- Pipe in coffee mousse and fill molds, scraping away excess mousse.
- When molds are filled, freeze for at least 3 hours.
- When completely frozen, remove from molds and place on wire rack.
- Glaze with Chocolate Stout Glaze and place in refrigerator for one hour.
Chocolate Stout Glaze
- 1/3 cup (80 ml.) cream
- 4.5 oz. (126 gr.) chocolate
- 2 oz. (60 ml.) Oatmeal Ellie’s Stout
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) sugar
- 1 oz. (28 gr.) butter, room temperature
- Bring Cream and Stout to a boil with the sugar.
- Place chocolate in a large bowl, roughly chopped.
- Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until combined and smooth.
- Add the butter and stir in to dissolve. Cool slightly and glaze cakes.
Most artisan micro-brews come in 22 oz. (650.4 ml.) bottles, making beer-matching for multi-course meals easy to manage on a budget and even easier if the restaurant serves the brew on tap. Ask for beer-matching suggestions when dining out. Let’s get more brews on the dinner table.