Sunday, June 05, 2011
The Butcher, The Larder & The Brewer - A Local Craft Beer Dinner
It was a true privilege to close out our 2010-2011 Société Mondiale du Vin season with a local craft beer dinner featuring the brilliant collaboration of Chefs Rob & Allie Levitt of The Butcher and Larder and Chef/Brewer Jared Rouben of Goose Island Beer Company. This dinner exemplified the depth and versatility of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the Société Mondiale du Vin and its members by taking a huge step away from the traditional wine pairings and exploring a blossoming world of extraordinary and groundbreaking craft beer.
Rob & Allie Levitt are two incredibly talented individuals who have received national acclaim as Chicago’s first locally sourced, sustainable, farm-to-table, whole animal butcher shop. Their custom cut meat comes strictly from animals that are responsibly raised on small, Midwestern family farms, from farmers they know personally and trust. They subscribe to a philosophy of cooking that showcases the use of local, sustainable, seasonal ingredients that come together to create a kaleidoscope of vibrant, fresh flavors, while at the same time supporting true artisans who care deeply about what they produce. It shows!
Chef/Brewer Jared Rouben provided us with distinctive and seasonal craft beers that are normally unavailable outside the walls of the Goose Island brewpub. These small batch, one-time production brews are the stuff that beer lover’s dreams are made of. Jared has pioneered a hops-to-table approach of using local and seasonal ingredients to create drinkable masterpieces. He is well known in Chicago for collaborating with local chefs to create exclusive artisan beers just for their restaurants. “I love showing chefs that what we do at the brewery is really not very different from what they do in their kitchens,” he says. “We both deal with raw ingredients, we both try to enhance the aromatics and flavors, and we’re both based in time and temperature. The only difference is that making beer is a three-week process.”
We started off the evening with smoked shrimp from Fisherman’s Daughter with spring onions, radishes and arugula. This paired very well with a refreshing light bodied Smoked Helles, which is German style Helles with a beautiful golden color, clean malt aroma, and crisp smoky finish.
Our second course, served on B&L’s signature Mado pig board, was an assorted charcuterie plate with house cured ham, testa, and Pâté Grand-Mère accompanied by homemade pickles, mustard and toasted bread. When I asked Rob about what makes his charcuterie stand out, he replied without hesitation, “I feel like, while everyone in the city is making charcuterie these days, we have found a way to make ours taste different than everyone else’s. All the pork comes from the Slagel pigs we butcher here. The ham was brined, hung and smoked with fruitwood from seedling orchard in Michigan. The Pâté Grand-Mère is something you don’t see very often. It is really old school, made with pork, pork liver and bacon, the testa is a long standing favorite and has been with us since the first day of Mado.” This was paired with both a refreshing Willow Street Wit, a Belgian Style Witbier with a hazy straw color, bright citrus aroma, spicy citrus flavor and crisp body, as well as medium body hoppy 23rd Anniversary American pale ale with a dark golden color, tropical fruit aroma and grapefruit flavor.
The third and main course was the Sausage al Pastor with roasted chili black beans and fresh cornbread. With a little recipe help from his good friend Chef Rick Bayless, Rob created a beautiful balance of chipotle chilies en adobo, onions, pork shoulder and pineapple and proved that encased meat can truly encapsulate a Michelin worthy experience! This was served with a medium body hoppy Curbside Saison, a Belgian style Saison that was golden in color with a big fruity aroma and flavor.
Our fourth course was a well thought out local artisan cheese plate from Wisconsin featuring Driftless Hidden Springs Creamery sheep’s milk and Goodhue Grass-Fed Gouda PastureLand cow’s milk. These two cheeses were paired with a stinky Double B Belgian Style beer with Brettanomyces. Although in most beer styles Brettanomyces is viewed as a contaminant with off-putting characteristics, in certain traditional Belgian ales it can impart a desirable flavor profile. The medium to full body Double B was Auburn in color with flavors of caramel, chocolate-covered black cherries and fig. The aromatics are full of old world characteristics like earth, funky barnyard and dark fruit.
Our last and final course was a decadent bourbon-vanilla flan with chocolate-almond toffee. This paired exquisitely with Goose Islands highly prized vintage, reserved, retired and rare horizontal collection of bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts. We started with the 2010 Bourbon County Stout, which much like all the BCS beers was as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel, a nose that was an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. The 2010 Bourbon County Coffee Stout was brewed with Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso Beans from local Chicago producer Intelligentsia Coffee. The third offering was the 2010 Bourbon County Vanilla Stout. Originally brewed for the festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer in Chicago in 2009, beer aficionados loved it so much that the brewery decided to bottle it. Brewed with real whole vanilla beans, this beer was slightly reminiscent of an adult milkshake and not to be missed. Last but not least was the incredibly rare and almost impossible to find Bourbon County Rare Stout. The stout was aged for 24 months in empty 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle barrels that were once filled with their world famous highly allocated bourbon from 1985 to 2008. This was a one-time limited edition bottling and is currently only available on the secondary market. Each bottle is numbered and dated by hand. Even Jared was amazed we were able to acquire them!
Our local craft beer dinner truly exemplified the care and level of devotion that local artisan producers put into their products. The Butcher, The Larder and The Brewer treated us to a meal that lived up to the highest standards of excellence on all levels. This event set the benchmark for five star dinning at the pinnacle of accessibility.
We are very excited to conclude our 2010‐2011 Societé Mondiale du Vin season by exploring some of the finest locally produced craft beers offered by the legendary brewery, Goose Island. Our focus of the evening will be to showcase a broad range of the best of what Goose Island has to offer, including a number of its fine, vintage, reserve and retired selections. In a casual atmosphere, we will explore how far craft beer has progressed over the last two decades and taste and enjoy its sophisticated and elegant evolution. Goose Island’s brewer/chef Jared Rouben (and, hopefully founder John Hall) will lead us through our time travel and give us an intimate look at the art and technical sides of craft brewing at this hometown brewery.
The Butcher & Larder, owned and operated by Mado veterans Rob “The Butcher” and Allie “The Larder” Levitt, will be our venue. It is Chicago’s first locally sourced, farm‐to‐table, whole animal butcher shop. The hybrid storefront and restaurant, located in West Town, features some of the finest custom cut‐to‐order selections of meats, charcuterie, cured meats and of course, Allie’s beloved pastries and desserts. This dynamic husband‐and‐wife team has not only followed their love of butchering, but continued their passion of cooking by serving lunch and monthly family style suppers. Rob and Allie have put together a custom menu just for the Mondiale that will complement and enhance our craft beer selections.
Seating is limited to 18 guests and will be on a first come, first served basis with preference to Mondiale members.