Recap of Nittany Epicurean’s Vine & Dine III
This was the third installment of the Nittany Epicurean’s Vine & Dine dinner series, where Michael Chelus aims to bring local wine (and now beer) makers and local restaurants and chefs together. The point is to show us, the consumer, how well locally produced food and beverages pair together – which was accomplished with flying colors. Dinners one and two of the series took place at Ristorante Lombardo on Hertel Avenue and Carmelo’s in Lewiston and the third last night, at Elm Street Bakery in East Aurora. The bakery was closed for the event and several small tables and place settings at the kitchen counter looked onto Chef Brad Rowell and his team as they prepped plate after plate of delicious French fare with an Elm Street twist.
The menu for the evening represented a feast inspired by Normandy and French tradition. In addition to the food, each guest was presented with a beer from Community Beer Works and wine from 21 Brix Winery. The idea was to vote which beverage paired better with each course. The friendly competition was the talk of the evening. It was a tight race, but in the end I believe 21 Brix Winery came out on top.
Oysters on the Half Shell with Roasted Bockwurst, Cider Mignonette, and Rye Bread with Cultured Butter
PAIRED with 2013 Pinot Grigio 21 Brix Winery | Frank (American Pale Ale) Community Beer Works
Roasted Duck Breast and Confit with Braised Cabbage, Hubbard Squash Puree, and Apple Gastrique
PAIRED with The Whale (Brown Ale) Community Beer Works | 2013 Blaufränkisch 21 Brix Winery
Shaved Kohlrabi, Parsnip, and Apple Salad with Walnuts, Herbs, and Creme Fraiche Vinaigrette
PAIRED with 2013 Chardonnay 21 Brix Winery | Saison #2 Community Beer Works
Hudson Valley Camembert with Pears, Chestnuts, and Eric’s Honey
PAIRED with Singularity: Mosaic (Single Hop IPA) Community Beer Works | 2013 Dry Riesling 21 Brix Winery
Normandy Apple Tart with Calvados Cream
PAIRED with 2013 ChampElla (Sparkling Wine) 21 Brix Winery | Intolerance (Milk Stout) Community Beer Works
Execution was spot on from service to food and ambiance. The beer and wine makers did a nice job educating the crowd about their respective businesses and how they paired their offerings with Chef Rowell’s food. Each course offered not just a taste but a full on dish, beer and glass of wine. Everything we tasted was fabulous. Some aspects that stood out were the ESB house-made sausage in the first course, the Duck Confit in course two, the entire third course of a Kohlrabi salad tossed with a light Creme Fraiche Vinaigrette and Eric’s honey in the fourth pairing. The desert course, Apple Tart with Calvados Cream made by pastry chef Luci Levere and team was also a highlight of the evening – even though we were stuffed to the brim and somewhat toasted by the end. I especially enjoyed both the milk stout and sparkling wine pairing in the fifth course.
I don’t usually pick favorites – everything was really that good – but I will say that the shaved Kohlrabi course presented one of the most unique salads I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Chef Rowell is bringing it – and with Kohlrabi nonetheless. Can I eat that every day?
Congratulations to everyone who had a hand in this fabulous meal. If you didn’t get a chance to join the Nittany Epicurean at this one, we highly recommend attending the next one if possible. Follow the NE’s blog or Facebook page to catch the announcement of the next Vine & Dine dinner.
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