By Ezra Johnson-Greenough
For the Oregon Beer Growler
When bringing craft beer into your holiday meal planning, it’s not as simple as grabbing a bottle of your favorite winter seasonal and a turkey leg. If you consider how flavors match up and even how beer can bring out hidden notes or enhance savory and sweet classics, then you’ll be handsomely rewarded.
Porter French Onion Soup
I love pairing Alaskan Brewing’s award-winning Smoked Porter with my turkey dinner each year, but what if I added it to the actual recipe instead? I recommend a not-too-bitter malty and roasty porter like Deschutes Black Butte in broths and sauces — or in this instance, a soul-warming French onion soup.
Preparing this salty, beefy and satisfying classic with beer is easy, but taking the time to first slowly caramelize the onions with butter is worth it. This recipe for Porter French Onion Soup will make enough for at least six people.
2 pounds onions, preferably sweet onions with one white onion for pungency
2 garlic cloves
1 cube beef bouillon
4 bay leaves
1 12-ounce or 22-ounce bottle of porter
8 quarts beef broth
1 cup unsalted butter
2 fresh sprigs of thyme and/or rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons flour
--Add cup of unsalted butter to large pot, then add 2 pounds of onions sliced into thin half-circles. Keep heat at a simmer and make sure there’s plenty of oil from the butter or add a little olive or vegetable oil, if necessary.
--Cook onions until they turn a deep golden brown. Add two finely chopped garlic cloves. Onions are ready when fully brown, but not burnt. When edges turn black, remove from heat and add broth. To prevent burning but still allowing to caramelize, add plenty of butter or oil, stirring every few minutes.
--Once onions are caramelized, add 12-16 ounces of porter and all of beef broth. Chop bay leaves, slice garlic and add to pot. Add paprika and single cube or large tablespoon of beef bouillon.
--Turn heat up to medium to reach low, steady boil. Once the carbonation is knocked out of the beer and everything is melding, add Worcestershire and black pepper. Tie together fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme with twine and add to pot or sprinkle dried version of herbs.
--Continue simmering and stirring every 5 minutes for 20-30 minutes as liquid begins to evaporate and flavors meld. Pull out spoonful and taste balance of spices. If needed, add salt. Slowly stir in four tablespoons of flour to thicken.
--To serve, use oven-safe bowl. Toast French baguette or other small slice of bread with garlic butter and place on top of soup. Top that with slice of creamy cheese, such as provolone, gruyere or Munster and cook in oven until cheese melts and bread edges are crisp. Then, enjoy.
IPA Mashed Potatoes
I could go the obvious route with my second holiday recipe and prepare a beer-brined turkey, but that’s been done to death. Instead, I’ll focus on the bedding of any holiday meal that’s arguably just as important as the main dish and that’s the mashed potatoes.
If you’re worried the IPA will make your mashed potatoes too bitter, relax and have a homebrew. It will just make them brighter and more herbaceous. Since I just happened to have a bottle of Deschutes Sagefight IPA on hand, it made for the perfect choice. But if you don’t have that handy, I suggest using an IPA with greener/grassier hops, perhaps something with some garlicky Mosaic hops like Breakside Wanderlust IPA.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup IPA
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
4 sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 1/2 cups cream
--Wash skin and poke holes in potatoes, then add to salted, boiling water until they soften and start to break down. Pour out liquid through pasta strainer, then add leftover potatoes to same pot with olive oil and butter.
--Peel garlic skins and chop finely or push cloves through garlic press. Add to pot along with IPA.
--Cook on low-to-medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring and gently mashing potatoes until softer.
--Add cream and chopped/torn herbs or dried herbs. Also add black pepper and salt. Raise heat to just below medium and keep stirring to avoid burning potatoes at bottom of pot. Add salt and herbs to taste.
Vegan Amber Ale Gravy
I am a meat eater myself and if you are too, it’s hard to beat a gravy using real drippings from your holiday turkey. But this is a tasty, healthier alternative that’s better than anything you’d buy in the store. For beer selection you could go with a cheap macro lager, but for more flavor I recommend a sweet malty amber or spiced fall/winter seasonal like a pumpkin ale or even an Oktoberfest beer.
2 medium onions (I chose one yellow and one white)
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon herbes de Provence, dried
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon vegan butter
12 ounce amber ale or spiced fall/winter seasonal
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 sprig thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
--Chop onions and add to medium-to-large pot with olive oil coating bottom. Chop or press garlic cloves and add to pot with herbes de Provence, Worcestershire, paprika, pepper and salt.
--Cook over low-to-medium heat. As pot warms, pour beer over ingredients slowly, followed by 1 cup vegetable broth.
--Bring heat up slowly to simmer. Stir frequently to keep onions from burning. Wait until they look soft, then turn off heat.
--After it’s cooled a bit, pour all ingredients in blender and puree for 45 seconds. Pour puree back into pot and rinse with 1 cup vegetable broth, adding that to pot.
--Turn up heat until puree reaches low boil. Add vegan butter, oregano, thyme, Worcestershire and brown sugar. Keep stirring to blend and prevent burning. Slowly stir in cornstarch.
--Turn down heat to low simmer and cook for another 15 minutes or until gravy looks thick.
By Jim McLaren
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Let’s be honest. The best food you’ve ever eaten was cooked by your mother. Oh sure, maybe every meal wasn’t great — maybe not even all that edible — but there was at least one thing she could put together that had you drooling from the moment you caught a whiff of it coming from the kitchen. That’s comfort food. Perhaps it was cookies or homemade soup or mac and cheese (not the kind in the blue box). This was the stuff you’d want to light up a dark, dreary day or to warm your insides after confronting a chilly outside world.
That’s the kind of eating Leah Tucker specializes in. “I do classic, Americana comfort food.” Leah, her hair pulled back by a red bandana, is grilling onions inside her mobile kitchen at the Piknik Park Food Cart Pod on Southeast Tacoma Street in Portland. Her business is called City Slickers.
“The concept behind City Slickers is city-specific, iconic food. I do big-name foods that people should recognize: Philly cheesesteaks, Chicago Italian beef sandwiches, New York dirty water dogs, L.A. street dogs. And my current claim to fame is Cincinnati chili.”
The onions are beginning to sizzle as Leah slices through a roll of pillowy soft bread. “So it’s these big flavors and foods that you grew up with and as a society, a culture, as a country we’ve grown up with. These are things that were introduced into our society decades ago and for whatever reason they have made a name for themselves and stuck with us. We still love them and we carry them with us wherever we go. We transplant from the Midwest or the East Coast or from California, to anywhere else, we want to see those foods. We want those foods — we crave them.”
Despite how tasty and stomach-filling the beef sandwich is that Leah has handed me, it wasn’t what brought me to her food cart. There’s another menu item I’m curious about, and to learn more about that my first stop was actually at Portland’s StormBreaker Brewing.
This was a day on which North Mississippi Avenue felt like the Mississippi Delta. It was hot and humid — the first day of the heart-stopping heatwave in August. But not even triple-digit heat could wilt Steven Shomler’s enthusiasm for what he has planned for cooler days in October — the first Portland BLT Week. “Celebrating the glory that is the BLT,” he said. “The BLT is actually my favorite sandwich.”
For those who don’t know, Steven has written books, hosts a weekly program on the Portland Radio Project, produces podcasts on beer and food, and markets the stuffing out of anything having to do with Oregon food and drink. In August, he promoted Portland Burger Week. “I work hard to serve people, work hard to care for them. And I love to celebrate the things that I love.”
The ex-corporate banker had just wrapped up a meeting with the owners of StormBreaker and was enjoying one of their beers as he explained how he began organizing Portland BLT Week in January. Of the 40 restaurants and food carts that asked to be included, Steven chose 30. But the menu doesn’t end there. A special beer and bacon confection are also on the menu courtesy of The Commons Brewery and Blue Star Donuts. Steven was talking to Salt & Straw about an event-themed ice cream as well.
In some ways, Portland BLT Week is a DIY event. It won’t be held at one location. Like Portland Burger Week, it’s a mad dash to see how many sandwiches you can scarf down during a limited period of time. Here’s the thing, though, BLTs are like anything homemade. They are comfort food because they are familiar. The same three ingredients are a must. But there’s always room for variation, as Steven illustrates when asked how he takes them. “If I make one at home? I like cracked wheat sourdough. I like iceberg lettuce. I like Bests Foods Mayonnaise. I like sliced tomatoes and pepper bacon. Very simple. Maybe some avocado.”
But are you a food adventurer? Will you dare go where your taste buds have not been before?
Back at City Slickers, Leah Tucker thinks so. Because she understands a basic rule. “BLTs are classics. It’s like a grilled cheese. You can’t get any more classic than a BLT or a grilled cheese. It is a basic comfort, easy, and yet it translates across every season. There are very few people who wouldn’t eat bacon on a sandwich.” To that end, she will keep her BLT simple but with some adventure.
A couple of other things to know about Portland BLT Week: The sandwiches will be modestly priced, so keep that in mind when you tip your server. Give them some extra comfort while you have some comfort food. For more details on the event, Oct. 1-8, check out the event page on Facebook.
Leah’s Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich
Paired With Laurelwood Brewery Free Range Red
By Leah Tucker, City Slickers
The Leah BLT starts with “a fabulous sauce. I make a mean garlic aioli, so that’s going to be my twist on the BLT. Instead of a standard mayonnaise, we’ll be using a garlic aioli.” The sauce comes with a secret ingredient that adds extra bite.
Bread: Standard white bread, thick cut, toasted. It will stand up to the other ingredients.
Tomatoes: The clean, sweet flavor of heirloom tomatoes will balance out the garlic aioli.
Bacon: Applewood-smoked bacon. Leah wants to experiment with weaving the bacon strips into a mat to ensure there is bacon with each mouthful.
Choosing Your Beer
I am old fashioned. I go somewhere, order a beer and then decide what to eat. But Portland BLT Week is about a sandwich and you need to base your beer choice on the sandwich you’re having. The beer should complement the bacon. Leah Tucker likes a red because it balances lightness and depth with the smoked bacon. On the other hand, if you’re having a sandwich with a fatty slab, Breakside Brewery India Golden Ale has a crispness that could cut through the bacon heaviness. If you run into a Canadian bacon version, you might try a glass of Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter. The nutty flavors go well with the bacon sharpness.
After visiting City Slickers, I had to try a homemade BLT. It was standard: basic bacon, a beefsteak tomato, lettuce on some toasted bread with bits of garlic in it. I paired with Fleur de Blanc from The Commons Brewery; the white farmhouse added a little tingle to each BLT bite.
Portland BLT Week
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Portland’s bottle shops provide a combination of great beer to go and great beer on tap but often little, if any, in the way of food. Bottles on Northeast Fremont Street stands out with a menu featuring great barbecue in the form of ribs, wings and brisket, all smoked in house — or, rather right out front — so you can’t enter without being struck with the delicious aroma. Opened six years ago by Brant Kunze and Shawn Meyer, the bottle shop on the east end of the Fremont business district has had the grills fired up since day one. Shawn describes his long-standing love of and dedication to barbecuing by saying, “If I can cook it outside over open fire that’s what I do.”
Influenced by his mom’s southern roots and his dad’s masterful sauce skills, Shawn’s barbecue has developed a following by customers who come in knowing what they’re in the mood to eat and rely on the bartenders to point them to the best beer pairing.
A recent tasting covered the meaty basics — bacon, chicken wings and brisket — paired with local bottled beers from Breakside Brewery, Ninkasi Brewing Company and Laurelwood Brewing Co. Starting off with the bacon and cheese plate, a meal for one or a shareable, munchable accompaniment to beer with friends, it features house-smoked bacon, gouda, New Zealand white cheddar and crackers. The pairing of Breakside’s clean, crisp Pilsner was an excellent counterpoint to the saltiness of the meaty bacon and white cheddar. The softer, smoother Gouda contrasted with the other components as it was less salty and accentuated the pleasant sharpness of the Pilsner. This style of beer is a great way to start a multi-course meal, being that it’s light yet flavorful. Breakside is also one of Brant and Shawn’s favorite breweries, led by Ben Edmunds, who they feel is “possibly the best brewer in Oregon.” Ben supported Bottles from the beginning by educating bartenders about the beers in exchange for wings, which was the next course.
While listed as “chicken wings” on the menu, wipe the picture of small, bony stubs out of your mind. These are, in fact, substantial drummies that are smoked and then tossed in Bottles’ flagship house barbecue sauce, the recipe for which came from Shawn’s dad. It was a sauce that Shawn had been enjoying long before Bottles came to be and he knew it was something that needed to be included, telling his dad either, “mail me the sauce or mail me the recipe.” These days, the tables have turned and Shawn is the one who is making and mailing the sauce back home to his parents in Michigan. That sauce, along with three variations Shawn developed, are available for customers to enjoy on any of their dishes. Within a year, they plan to have them bottled for sale to go.
Paired with the wings was Workhorse IPA from Laurelwood, a brewery that Brant describes as “always been great at helping us.” He knew the flavors of a pale ale would be too subtle to stand up to the barbecue sauce, and Workhorse IPA is a customer favorite. At one time, the beer was part of a customer-requested, six-beer blind tasting for a “Pliny-loving group,” with seven of the eight participants agreeing they were sure it was Pliny. But it was Workhorse. The hop profile of the beer does its work to cut the rich, meatiness of the sauce-covered wings to a T.
The final pairing matched Ninkasi’s Dawn of the Red with the pulled pork slider pile, a heaping plate of three sliders and a side. Two hands are needed to heft the perfectly soft Franz buns loaded with pulled pork and coleslaw off the plate. The pork shoulder is chopped daily (only available until it runs out), dressed with just a bit of their original barbecue sauce and topped with house-prepared red cabbage coleslaw with a dressing of sweet relish, pimento and other secret ingredients.
The guys describe Dawn of the Red as “the best beer they [Ninkasi] make,” with the added cool factor of being zombie related. The beer is balanced in its maltiness, hoppy without having to be hoppy and ultimately didn’t overpower the sliders. It also complemented the side, Carolina caviar, which consisted of beans and bright, fresh veggies in a light, vinegary dressing.
The basis of the menu remains the same as when they opened — a month before they had planned to in order to take advantage of the annual Fremont Fest street fair and parade — but there are now expanded offerings to accompany the full liquor license.
Smoked Chicken Wings
Paired with Laurelwood Workhorse IPA
By Brant Kunze, Bottles owner
1 package chicken wings, thawed
2 tablespoons onion salt
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce*
—Toss wings with onion salt.
--Smoke wings for 1-1 1/2 hours (until internal temperature is 165 degrees).
--Let wings rest for 10 minutes. Toss wings in barbecue sauce.
Pulled Pork Sliders
Paired with Ninkasi Dawn of the Red
By Brant Kunze, Bottles owner
1 whole pork shoulder
2 tablespoons onion salt
2 cups brown sugar
1 package slider-sized buns
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce*
2 tablespoons prepared coleslaw
--Rub pork shoulder with onion salt and brown sugar.
--Smoke pork for 5-6 hours (until internal temperature is 160 degrees).
--Let pork rest for 10 minutes. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
--Lightly toast slider buns. Add barbecue sauce to both sides of buns. Top with pulled pork, approximately 1⁄4 cup per bun and add coleslaw, if desired.
*At Bottles we use our house-made tangy barbecue sauce, which is a secret family recipe that has been passed down through the generations.
[a] 5015 NE Fremont St., Portland
By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Josh Cronin gets a faraway look in his eyes talking about the first time he ate foie gras at Little Bird Bistro in Portland. Before he bought his own little place on Main Street in Independence called The Three Legged Dog Public House, he had worked a variety of jobs — from archeology to marketing. He came to the area to work at Rogue Farms (“boot camp”), just six miles from his pub. Then in 2014, inspired to offer food that is fine and different, he opened the pub with partners.
“Willamette Valley people will travel for good food,” Cronin said. “If you create something good, people will come.”
Cronin said Audrey Wales, 21, is a young chef who will someday be a household name. Wales is not the least bit shy and despite her youth, she’s been a prep cook since she was a preteen. After earning her diploma from Independence’s Central High School, she graduated from the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute. The recipes featured here are hers and decidedly unique and delicious.
The Three Legged Dog is a small, family-comfortable local favorite, offering an assortment of local beers, wines, spirits and mixed drinks in a 1926 former Farmers State Bank building where original stained glass windows and tile and wood floors remain, as does the walk-in (or eat-in) bank vault. When I visited in early May, there was Breakside Brewery Stout, Silver Moon Brewing ISA, Occidental Brewing Company Altbier, Santiam Brewing Edelweissbier and Citrus Mistress from Hop Valley Brewing Co. You are likely to find something new on tap for the summer, but variety is the constant.
We chose the suggested beer pairings after trying several on tap and from my own “cellar” with the recipes featured. Occidental’s Altbier was a great beer for both dishes, bringing out the sweetness of the maple in the pork belly, and offsetting the tart rhubarb with caramel flavors. Surprising pepper flavors popped out on the back of my tongue as I washed the pork belly back with the pale ales. More hops would have masked the delicate bacon-y goodness, but a little certainly helped cut the soft fat, preparing my tongue for more. Possibly the best pair of the night was the fruit-forward Mazama Rasplendent, a witbier, which matched the sweet-tartness of the rhubarb hand pie, bite for sip.
Peppered, Maple-Glazed Pork Belly
Paired with Occidental Altbier, Salem Ale Works #503 Pale Ale, Worthy Prefunk Pale Ale
Recipe by Chef Audrey Wales
1 pound pork belly
3 celery stalks
1 teaspoon balsamic glaze
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
Salt and pepper to coat pork belly
—Cut onions, carrots and celery and place in the bottom of a roasting pan.
—Place pork belly over the vegetables. Coat with pepper, salt, sriracha and maple. Cover up to halfway with water, cover pan with foil.
—Braise for 3 hours, uncover and let the top caramelize to a golden brown.
—Cool. Cut one-inch slices and sear on a grill until golden. Serve with balsamic glaze, greens, sriracha and maple syrup.
Rhubarb Hand Pies
Paired with Mazama Rasplendent; Occidental Altbier
Recipe by Chef Audrey Wales
2 1/4 cups flour
8 tablespoons cold water
8 ounces cold butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
—Combine all in a food processor until dough forms and chill.
3 large rhubarb stalks, cut into cubes
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 ounce brandy
—Combine all in a pot and cook until rhubarb is tender.
—Cut rounds from the chilled pie dough and place rhubarb filling in the center.
—Place another round over the top and seal with a fork.
—Cut slits on the top of the pie and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
One of the best-kept secrets in the state’s food and beer scene is tucked away in the suburbs. Every few months, 30 or so people gather in a restaurant just off of Northwest Cornell Road in Beaverton for a multicourse brewer’s dinner. The venue is unexpected. It’s not a brewery, for starters. And the joint is best known for filling stomachs with hefty deep-dish pizzas and burgers that nearly topple over due to mounds of condiments — feasts in their own right, but not the kind associated with an event that often serves more upscale fare. That’s why it may come as a surprise that Old Chicago is somewhat quietly, but successfully, executing a dinner that partners off-menu creations with beer from Oregon-based breweries. That’s right — within the walls of a national chain lies the hands of a chef who loves to push the corporate culinary boundaries as well as the heart of a craft beer enthusiast who seeks to create community, even on the edge of a strip mall.
The most recent Old Chicago brewer’s dinner took place mid-February and featured Ecliptic Brewing’s beers. It was the eighth held by the eatery, which has also hosted Breakside Brewery, Pelican Brewing Company and Vertigo Brewing. While the program is relatively new to Old Chicago, the chef and kitchen manager at the Beaverton site has been curating beers for presentation with multiple dishes for years. The next dinner will actually be the 39th of Rich Palfy’s career.
For Palfy’s earlier efforts, he had to rely on bottled beer when developing pairings. But it became easier to experiment when he started working for Rock Bottom Brewery in Colorado since the establishment actually made beer. Palfy “started to really interact with the beer and implementing it into the food as either marinating it, cooking with it,” he described. “I got to partner with the brewers and be able to really design menus and use their beers in my food.”
Even though Old Chicago doesn’t brew, it prides itself as a place for beer enthusiasts to find ample selection. The restaurant also wants to be an outlet to educate newcomers who are hesitant to loosen their grip on a go-to domestic lager. The company’s website even offers a primer on how to taste beer, with descriptions of aroma, flavor and mouthfeel. Although corporate restaurants don’t give individual chefs much opportunity to shape menus, Palfy’s autonomy with the brewer’s dinners seems a natural next step to further the chain’s commitment to beer culture.
After Palfy moved from Rock Bottom to Old Chicago, which are both owned by CraftWorks, he began exploring the idea of putting together a dinner with the Beaverton restaurant’s general manager and bar manager. They were all willing to try something a little different inside a business where change tends to come slowly.
“So it kinda started like that — just kind of a, ‘Let’s see what we can do with it and see if it’s going to work.’ Because,” he explained, “Old Chicago is not known for that kind of thing. That’s how it really kind of got off the ground. And from there, it’s just been building. Yes, we have some regulars that come in for the dinners that love it. But then we’re starting to capture new people.”
There is indeed good potential that Old Chicago’s foray into brewer’s dinners will expose a wider portion of the population to this type of culinary experience for several reasons. The price, to begin with, is one heck of a good deal. The first few dinners Old Chicago hosted only set diners back $32-35. While the price of admission was bumped up most recently to $40, that’s still a bargain when compared to most beer dinners in the area, which can run anywhere from $60-125. That’s prohibitively expensive to many beer lovers. Additionally, the Old Chicago location and atmosphere may be more approachable to a customer who’s intimidated by a high-scale venue or the exclusive feeling that’s often permeating these events due to the fact that many guests know the brewer, restaurant owner or promoter. Outsiders may feel left out. It’s also just plain fun to see a chef pushing himself creatively in a kitchen that he admits has its limitations since it’s set up to aid in the creation of Old Chicago’s menu items.
At the Ecliptic dinner, four courses offered a mix of light, spring flavors along with heartier fare for those chilly days that hang around in Oregon until late June. That would make this time of year the perfect opportunity to recreate some of Palfy’s food at home. The first course, bite-size Caprese wraps, could be enjoyed as an appetizer or a light lunch. The miniature rolls bobbed from sweet to tart to savory, encompassing all of the elements expected in the traditional salad presented in a way where you didn’t need a fork. To ensure the balsamic-drizzled sweet tomatoes, milky mozzarella and fragrant basil weren’t overpowered by the beer pairing, Palfy selected Ecliptic’s Spica Pilsner. The Caprese brought out bready flavors in the crisp, earthy beer.
In course two, Palfy hit the guests with one of his specialties: a soup. While he almost made a New England clam chowder for the meal, the bold turn to a Manhattan was a better decision. The chef used some of Ecliptic’s beer to sweat out the carrots, celery, garlic and onions. After tucking into the brick red broth, the heat of the peppers instantly gave you a soft punch in the palate. That sensation then gave way to a rich, stewed tomato flavor with a hint of briny clam to finish. Reinforced with each bite was the warm and slightly bitter taste of oregano, giving chowder an Italian twist. The bright mix of citrus and floral notes in Orbiter IPA tempered the clams while intensifying the soup’s kick, due to its hop-forward nature. But since the spice tends to linger in the mouth, the beer’s effervescence helped scrub the palate so that the heat could be experienced anew with the next spoonful.
The entree provided the perfect mix of winter meeting spring. Asparagus is at its peak in Oregon April through June, so take advantage of it now. The grilled vegetable’s sweetness provided contrast to an oven-roasted halibut, but both were light enough to eat again on those warmer spring days. Need something heartier? Palfy had the fish and spears resting atop a bed of buttery, roasted fingerling potatoes that were wading in a creamy red pepper sauce made with California serranos. Pollux Imperial IPA, which is more malt-forward than Orbiter, had a resiny mouthfeel and a sweetness comparative to the asparagus. It’s also incredibly smooth without a strong alcohol character, but at times the big beer could overpower the more delicate fish. The potato, however, could stand up to an imperial and when coated in sauce, the food amplified the spiciness hops can bring to a brew.
The last course of the night had diners anticipating warmer days as the molten chocolate lava cake drizzled in raspberry sauce was like sinking your teeth into a summer afternoon. Pairing that with Electra Framboos Raspberry Ale meant doubling down on the fruit component, but it paid off. The biting Belgian pale with raspberries and cocoa nibs was a refreshing balance to the rich, dense cake. There were three different levels of sweetness in this dessert: the chocolate, the sweet/tart notes in the sauce and the clean, simple vanilla in the scoop of ice cream nestled next to the cake. The combination of hot and cold elements also provided a fun mouthfeel reminiscent of those hot fudge sundaes you probably ate a lot more often as a kid.
Perhaps Palfy’s menu will get you to the next brewer’s dinner, slated for April. Or maybe you’re just curious to see what it’s like to sit down for a multicourse meal with beer pairings inside an Old Chicago. Whatever your motivation might be to attend, here’s what the chef hopes you’ll take away:
“I want them to enjoy it, have a good time, meet new people while they’re here,” Palfy said. “Maybe introduce themselves to somebody in the business they’re not in and collaborate that way. And just have a good time in an environment where they can come in and feel like it’s home.”
Paired with Ecliptic Spica Pilsner
By Chef/Kitchen Manager Rich Palfy
2 sun-dried tomato wraps (or spinach or flour tortillas)
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
1 pound fresh basil leaves, no stems
— Put the wrap/tortilla on a cutting board, then add 1 slice of tomato, 1 slice of mozzarella and 1 basil leaf.
— Repeat this step until the wrap is full, leaving about 1 inch at both ends.
— Roll wrap and cut into 1-inch pieces.
— Plate and garnish with olive oil and balsamic reduction.
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Paired with Orbiter IPA
By Chef/Kitchen Manager Rich Palfy
4 6.5-ounce cans minced, diced clams
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
7 carrots, diced
2 green peppers, diced
2 red peppers, diced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 drops of your favorite hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
salt and black pepper, to taste
Prep time: 20 minutes, cook time 3 1/2 hours
— Combine all tomatoes, clams, spices and sauces and simmer for 30 minutes
— Add all vegetables and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook on medium heat for 3 hours. If there’s not enough clam taste, add clam juice.
— Serve with breadsticks (optional).
By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Whether you’ve dined at Portland City Grill, popped in for their amazing happy hour or just heard about them, you know they have a great reputation for food, not to mention views from their 30th floor location inside the U.S. Bancorp Tower, aka Big Pink, in downtown Portland. In May they teamed up with brewing powerhouse, Breakside Brewery, for a six-course brew dinner.
Taking place in one of their private dining rooms with views of the West Hills that are nearly as stunning as the ones from the east-facing side of the restaurant, it was an intimate evening attended by Will Jaquiss of Breakside’s barrel program and Keith Vandervort, who is the cellar manager. The meal began with an amuse-bouche of pretzel bread, mustards and softened butter sprinkled with sea salt in the sun-soaked room. This first course was paired with the Amuse Farmhouse Ale. Beer and pretzels, be it a soft baked version like what was presented here or the shelf-stable kind that make for convenient, festival-friendly necklaces, are a standard pairing. What set this one apart was how well both the salted butter and the horseradish mustard paired with Amuse; instead of overwhelming the beer, the latter made for an unexpectedly complementary pairing.
The first course paired Lunch Break ISA -- which took a gold medal in the “American-Style Pale Ale” category at the Best of Craft Beer Awards earlier this year — with the best BLT I’ve ever eaten with a fork and knife. Not a sandwich in actuality, it was a salad of Little Gem lettuce, creamy blue cheese, smoked tomatoes and lardons. Chock full of rich ingredients, the clean, bright flavors of the beer worked well to balance the course out. Simple yet stunning, this is a pairing to remember throughout the summer and one that should be recreatable in your kitchen with a trip to the farmers market and favorite local beer store.
The second course topped the first by being the most beautiful of the evening as well as offering an unexpected combination of ingredients -- house-made traditional bratwurst served with a Sriracha gastrique and tzatziki, the light yogurt-based sauce that instinctively brings the thought of gyros to my mind. The bratwurst was flavorful and moist, lightened by both the tzatziki and the beer it was paired with, Liquid Sunshine Pils, a traditional German lager made with imported German malt. The beautiful presentation may have been fancier than what you’d prepare at home but like the first course, this combination is one to file away for summer grilling season.
Continuing to keep things light, the third course was a perfectly cooked, generous portion of Alaskan Halibut atop basil gnocchi, caramelized shallots, asparagus and kale pesto. Overall an herbal-influenced dish, it was mellowed by the slight tartness of Breakside’s Fortunella, a strong witbier made with kumquats, coriander and chamomile.
The fourth course presented a breakfast-for-dinner plate that was worthy of a leisurely weekend brunch. A slightly teetering tower of made up of a syrup-soaked waffle, crispy and spicy fried chicken, gravy and a sunny-side-up egg was paired with India Golden Ale, which although light in body and color was able to hold its own alongside the bold flavors of the food. Unlike the rest of the dishes during the dinner, this one is regularly available during Portland City Grill’s Sunday brunch.
Rounding the corner toward the home stretch, the fifth course was chosen by executive chef Amanda Sullivan, who has been with Portland City Grill for 11 years, because it’s both a staff and customer favorite. A wide, shallow bowl was filled with creamy Tillamook white cheddar mac and cheese and topped with slow-braised beef short ribs. The aromas of the cheese and the beef were heavenly and the combination of the two with Breakside’s export-style Stout was a comfort-food dream taken to the next level. Chef Sullivan added a little coffee to the braising liquid to enhance the coffee notes in the stout.
The final course of the night, croissant gorgonzola and fig bread pudding with thyme creme anglaise and balsamic ice cream, took hints from both a traditional dessert course and a cheese course, mixing sweet and savory notes. The beer offered was the most exclusive of the evening, Braggadocio, a one-off, bourbon barrel-aged imperial London porter that was released in April. A collaboration with Stone Brewing Company, the beer was a divine complement to the bread pudding, a lighter version than is often seen due to the use of croissants instead of more dense bread.
It’s hard to go wrong with Portland City Grill’s food or Breakside Brewery’s beer and it was illustrated by Will’s comment, “I feel like beer is best enjoyed with food.” There’s no doubt that was the case during this pairing dinner, something that we’ll hopefully see again in the future. In the meantime, chef Sullivan has shared her short ribs recipe for your home cooking enjoyment.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
Paired with Breakside Brewing export-style Stout
By Chef Amanda Sullivan
7 ounces beef short ribs, prepped
4 ounces braising liquid
2 ounces ginger hoisin sauce
½ ounce beurre blanc sauce
*Place ribs on the grill for 1 minute then turn and do the same for the other side.
*Put ribs into the braising liquid for 10 minutes.
*Coat ribs with ginger hoisin sauce.
*Drizzle the beurre blanc sauce over the ribs.
Makes up to 10 servings.
Serving suggestion: Place the ribs on top of a creamy, white cheddar mac and cheese.
Portland City Grill
[a] 111 SW 5th Ave. 30th Floor, Portland
5821 SE International Way, Milwaukie
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