A Sour Beer and Wine Dinner by Salt Cellar and Schell’s Brewery
Ever have that friend that just “gets” you? For me that’s my friend Marsh. Marsh is good friends with Jace Marti of Schell’s Brewery. Proud of her college buddy’s success, she follows the brewery’s happenings and supports it wherever she can, so when she heard about this dinner through social media she knew she wanted to attend — and that she had a very eligible dinner companion in Yours Truly. So on a cool autumn Thursday, we shuffled into the back room of the St. Paul restaurant, the Salt Cellar, to meet a wonderful group of new people and experience a plethora of amazing new flavors.
Speaking of those people, I have to say what a pleasure it was to meet not only Jace, but some other notable names on the Twin Cities food and drink scene, such as Certified Cicerone Micheal Agnew of the Perfect Pint, Leslee Miller of Amusee Wine, and David of Midnight Rosewater.
To manage expectations on this post – I love beer. And I love wine. And I’m pretty courageous, so I had no qualms about pairing wine and sour beers with some delicious culinary counterparts. But you might be new here, so this is my disclaimer to any craft beer hounds or wine-o’s out who may happen to be reading: I’m all about the food.
Between all six food items and the two sour beer and wine pairing for each, we’d have a lot of ground to cover, so I’m going to give you my highlights of the evening.
Fried Oyster with Five Herb Dressing (First Course)
Sour Beer and Wine Pairing: Schell’s Berliner Weisse “Star of the North” and Szigeti Gruner Veltliner Sekt Brut
Can I start with my absolute favorite? (Yes MaK, this is your website, of course you can.) I am a seafood fiend, though frying it can be really hit or miss depending upon the freshness of your seafood and the quality of your breading and oil. It’s easy to mess up. Add that to the fact that I’d just returned from a family trip to Maine and spent most of the last week eating lobster straight out of the water – well, by all logic, a fried oyster in Minnesota should not have impressed me.
BUT. MY GOODNESS. The Salt Cellar’s oyster was fresh and briny, the breading was a perfect thickness and crispness, and the creamy, lemony quality of the five herb dressing cut through any residual oil made that oyster sing.
Pork Tenderloin / Kale / Peach Glace de Viande / Whipped Buttermilk Blue Cheese (Fourth Course)
Sour Beer and Wine Pairing: Schell’s Berliner Weisse Starkeller Peach and Matthiasson Ribolla GIalla (Orange Wine)
Why wouldn’t we have pork loin at Minnesota beer and wine pairing dinner (especially when the third course was a fried potato and sauerkraut? Also delicious, I’ll add, but this post is about my favorites.) But kale? Kale, the power smoothie vegetable everyone loves to hate? Confession: I love kale. I love any vegetable that boasts a strong, earthy flavor, because it reminds me of eating things straight out of our garden in Alaska when I was little.
The petite little pork steak was grilled to a perfect tenderness, the bed of kale it was on melted in your mouth and the earthy, “green” flavor gave some needed depth to the salty pork. Once the next bite was swirled in the peach glaze it elevated to an upscale “sweet and sour pork” type flavor, and adding the whipped blue cheese added tartness, but also balanced the whole dish.
Goat Cheese Cake / Spiced Chocolate Crust / Wild Black Cherry Sauce
Sour Beer and Wine Pairing: Schell’s Berliner Weisse Black Forest Cherry and Maestro Sierra Amaroso Sherry
Mr. MaK will appreciate this section, because he’s normally the cheesecake fiend in our house. I just find that most cheesecakes I come across are too sweet, too dense, and I just don’t… well, love them.
But a goat cheesecake? That is quite a different story.
The goat cheese anchored the flavor so it wasn’t overly sweet. The Salt and Cellar chef really let the crust and the thick, ruby red cherry sauce sweeten the creamy cake, and that balance was key for having the Schell’s Black Forest Cherry and the sherry for libation pairings. (Though, for me, the sherry was a bit heavy and syrupy to sip with bites that included the black cherry sauce.)
All in all, this entire experience was a delicious success, and I’m so glad it’s the first pairing dinner I’m able to feature here on the MaK and Cheese blog. Thanks so much to Salt Cellar, Jace. Leslee, David, and most of all, my dear girl Marsh, for bringing me along on this adventure!