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Monday, May 27, 2013

Saint Arnold Beer Dinner at L'Auberge Baton Rouge

Coffee Crusted Beef Carpaccio with the St. Arnold Santo
Nobody ever really questions the perks of my job.  Lately I've been trying to convince everyone how difficult it is at times.  On a trip to New Orleans, Chuck P experienced a draining albeit food and beverage packed day in the life of myself.  However, as Chef Wadsworth says, "it's good to be Jay Ducote."  I'll never complain that I found a way to eat and drink for a living.  It might be difficult at times to constantly write about it, or to record radio show after podcast after radio show.  Or perhaps sometimes the eating and drinking actually takes its toll and I need a break.  That does actually happen.  But still, at the end of the day, I've created the best job imaginable for myself.  It has been a lot of hard work to actually turn it into a job, but if it wasn't, everyone would do it!  So back to the perks.

During American Craft Beer Week I received an invitation to attend a beer dinner at the Stadium sports bar in L'Auberge Baton Rouge.  The beer dinner paired brews from the Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, TX with creative cuisine from the casino's culinary team.  The dinner began with the Saint Arnold Santo, a malty Black Kolsch that is quite enjoyable.  The darker German style beer came paired with an appetizer of sorts: coffee crusted beef carpaccio alongside fried capers, pickled red onion, roasted beef tallow, and a beer bottle tuile.  The carpaccio itself had a delicate flavor with a hint of coffee bitterness and the natural savoriness of rare beef.  When all the flavors on the plate combined into one bite, this dish became magical.  The beef fat livened up the lean carpaccio while the pickled reds added enough acidity to cut through the fat.  The fried capers chimed in with a blast of texture and saltiness.  Great dish!

Root Beer Granita and Vanilla Hop Pickled Strawberry Pearls
After the first course came a creative intermezzo.  Utilizing Saint Arnold's Root Beer, the chefs came up with a root beer granita to pair with vanilla hop pickled strawberry pearls and chocolate mint oil.  I enjoyed the palate cleanser, though it confused me slightly.  Somewhere between a dessert and a refreshing stop between courses, the flavors were sweet and delightful though reasonably strong.  It also came between the appetizer and fish courses, which seemed a little odd.  I felt like it would have fit better between the second and third courses as a true palate cleanser between entrees, but perhaps the chefs had good reason not to.  Perhaps they wanted to keep it farther away from the dessert course.  Either way, I ate it all.  And the hop flavors really worked quite well with the strawberries!

Beer Poached Salmon
The second course of the evening featured beer poached salmon with a plantain chip, citrus salad, and blood orange vinaigrette.  This salmon once again made me really enjoy the fish in cooked form.  I'll have remember to beer poach my salmon in the future!  The beer served with the fish dish was Saint Arnold's Icon Series Amarillo Hefe.  With some hop presence to add to the citric flavor of the beer, it partnered up with the salad very well to complete a light and refreshing course.  


Roasted Pork Poboy with a Cascadian Dark Ale
Perhaps the most interesting plating of the night came with the main course.  L'Auberge has very cleverly worked packaging design into their craft beer dinners, and this Saint Arnold dinner proved to be no exception.  The course featured a very pedestrian menu item done up in a very nice way.  Wedged into one side of the four-pack container, the roasted pork poboy featured some nice mustard greens and smoked provolone as well as au jus.  The sandwich hit the spot.  Comfort food for sure, the poboy fit the vibe of the beer dinner and the atmosphere of the Stadium.  Served with seasoned potatoes that actually had hops in the seasoning, the course also paired extremely well with the latest in the Saint Arnold Icon Series, the Cascadian Dark Ale.

Dessert at L'Auberge with the Endeavor Double IPA
My first thought when I looked at this menu item was that it is quite the risk to use a double IPA to pair with dessert and end the meal.  I like risks though.  And the bright floral notes and bitterness in an IPA can certainly work with dessert.  To match the more assertive flavors of the Saint Arnold Endeavor, the chefs served Endeavor poached citrus peaches, vanilla bean candied orange swirled gelato, and orange essence sponge cake.  The fruity citrus flavors complimented the DIPA and the dish played on my palate with the different textures.

Keep an eye out for more craft beer dinners at Stadium as well as rum and wine dinners at 18 Steak.  L'Auberge is definitely a nice addition to the culinary scene of Baton Rouge in addition to the entertainment scene!  And look for Saint Arnold Beers all around Louisiana as well.  Our neighbors in Texas are brewing some great suds!