Tuesday, March 06, 2007

St. Valentines' Day Massacre

Met my sweetie at the Pike after her run through of the Flower and Garden Show for their Valentines' Day Beer Lovers' Dinner. Four courses accompanied by Pike beer. Appetizer was some local organic radish with truffle salt and Beechers Butter with an assortment of charcruterie served with the Pike IPA; Peppery radishes (with the salt and butter washed down with the IPA, the best!) nice Salami and Coppa from Salume (a bit mild to my taste) and some amazing Prosciutto (salty, melt in your mouth buttery) along with the Pikes' toast-ish, firmly bitter IPA. A simple salad course of local greens, beets, wee yellow tomatoes and Estrella Blue Cheese dressed with a Framboise vinaigrette accompanied by the Pike Scotch ale; fresh and toothsome greens, lovely beets, (not enough) excellent local cheese, a relatively mild dressing. Not too sure the beer worked very well though. Perhaps too malty and alcohol forward for such a delicate preparation. My entree was Prime Rib sauced with Pike Tandem jus and served with horseradish mashed potatoes along with the Pike "Old Bawdy" Barleywine. Pffft... Good beef but from too near the middle of the roast for my taste, a bit pink and that's the bit that cools the fastest. Mashers were fine, mildly horseradished. The jus missed the plate. And, eek, grated horseradish as a garnish. Serving grated horseradish is simply uncivilized and a dirty trick. Old Bawdy helped; deep red/mahogany, toffee malt flavors, firm bitterness and warming. A nice counterpoint to the more appetizing bites of the roast. My sweetie had the King Crab legs, nice but similarly "not so much". We chose one of each of the deserts; a house made chocolate tart with vanilla gelato and the cheese plate along with one each of the accompanying drinks, Pike Chocolate Stout from the cask and Siegerrehe (a sweet muscat-ish wine from Bainbridge Island Winery). The chocolate tart was OK; crust was a bit too firm, the filling a very firm bittersweet chocolate but the gelato was delicious. The cheese plate was amazing (really); Brewleggio a firm Tallegio-style with a Pike Tandem Double ale washed rind from Estrella Farm Creamery, "Vache de Vashon" a soft-ish, buttery/nutty cheese and "Cirrus" a Camembert styled cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery in Port Townsend. Holy shit! An amazing cheese, soft buttery, earthy with hints of grass and wildflowers. All the cheeses were fantastic.

Once and a while I have a difficult time with eating out. I hate sitting through a meal knowing I could have done better. Though I enjoyed our dinner at the Pike here's what I'd do; Appetizer; same charcruterie but fewer more generously portioned slices of the cured sausages with a taste of Parmasan Reggiano or well aged Edam and bit of cracker served with the Pike Pale, mild bitterness and firm nutty maltiness to go along with the rich meats and the salty cheese. Salad served a bit more rustic and deconstructed; beets roasted in the oven with garlic and fresh thyme, a fair chunk of the Blue, perhaps a compote of the tomatoes served with a stack of the Framboise vinaigrette dressed greens with the Pike Scotch ale, here we'd want to start with a salad emphasizing the hearty/earthy quality of the ingredients and counterpoint the vinegar and blue cheese with the relatively malty sweet character of the Scotch ale. Entree; same roast of beef perhaps a cut from a smaller, very slightly more well done roast, better browning, seasoned better (salt and pepper!). Put the jus in its own ramekin on the plate. Mashers = OK. Serve a horseradish sauce! A simple preparation of fresh, finely grated (or ground) horseradish, sour cream, salt and white pepper is more than sufficient (as well as suitably civilized). Old Bawdy is still served. Desert; chocolate tart, bittersweet genache in a flaky crust served with lemon cream and Stoli Raspberry couli. Cheese plate; same cheeses but with a second 1 1/2 ounce portion to make sharing better. Both accompanied by the world class Pike 5X Stout.

Dinner was nice. But the best is our traditional Valentines' treat of chocolate and Orval. 'Cept this year we ended up with some shitty truffles. That's the last time I pass on the Diletantes.

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