A couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend a beer pairing dinner at the American Kitchen restaurant in the B Resort & Spa at Lake Buena Vista. I accepted, because there isn't anything about the phrase "beer pairing dinner" that I don't like. But I was also anxious to see what's been going on culinarily at American Kitchen since some changes had been made from my last visit. I liked everything I ate and sipped.
The dinner was a collaboration between the resort's executive chef, Venoy Rogers III and John Cheek of Orlando Brewing.
Following an amusing little bouche we started the meal with a Scallop, served with white asparagus coated with pistachio dust, spring peas, some well place golden raisins and a small puddle of clam espuma. That's a lot going on on one plate, and it all worked beautifully.
So did the pairing of La Güera Blonde Lager, a light, non bitterish brew that had a sparkling finish. (It was apparent throughout the meal that Cheek and Rogers worked closely together to ensure the most appropriate pairings.)
The wonderfully plump scallop was followed by a Megene Salad with baby greens from Uriah's Farms, with Florida tomato and crumbles of Maytag blue cheese. The croutons were fashioned out of bread made with spent grains, and the dressing was a lager-honey vinaigrette. To drink, we had Orlando Brewing's Olde Pelican, an English pale ale that tasted nothing like a aged bird. It had lovely sweet notes that countered the salty blue cheese.
The next course was called Beer Can Chicken, but it was nothing like the backyard barbecue classic of shoving a can of beer up the rump of a whole chicken. Instead it featured chicken lollipops with frenched bones, cooked a la nage with a beer flavored with roasted shallots. The O-town Brown Ale accompanied.
Creekstone Farms Prime Short Rib followed, with a puree of smoked parsnips and itty bits of broccolini stalks braised in beer. The porter-bourbon demi that glazed the tender beef needed something as sturdy for quaffing. The Blackwater Porter was up to the task, its coffee notes just adding to the flavors of the glaze.
For dessert there was a Caramelized White Chocolate Bomb with Key West sea salt caramel, dark chocolate mousse and one perfectly popped kernel of caramel corn. Homer's Flying Circus, a dark lager, added a few chocolate notes of its own.
The American Kitchen staff kept things moving and Rogers and Cheek graciously answered questions about the food and pairings between each course. It was a wonderfully relaxed evening.
This was the first of a series of beer pairings, and you'll want to watch for the next one, especially if it's priced similarly -- $55 all in for all of that food, beer and service.
I'm also looking forward to revisiting American Kitchen to sample Rogers' regular menu. I'll let you know what I find out.