By Judy Garrison
“Let’s Celebrate Craft Beer!” announced the poster promoting the February 6th dinner event. And a celebration it was: a delightful and informative explanation of the beers as well as the courses each was paired with through an exquisite multi-course meal, with Cranston Dean providing a lively backdrop of song and acoustic guitar.
The special guest, Dana Ball, is a certified cicerone (guide/specialist) and co-founder of the Catskill Brewery in Livingston Manor. (See their website at www.catskillbrewery.com). He told us how he came to brew beer and talked in depth about the beers they brew that we would be tasting: Ball Lightning, a pilsner; Dry Hopped Golden, a sour ale; Flanders Red, a Flemish ale; Floodwatch, an IPA; and Nightshine, a black lager, all wildly different from each other and deliberately paired with Chef Ed O’Neill’s food. He invited and received feedback as we ate.
Course by course, Ed would follow Dana’s beer description with a comment on one of his menu. It started with an amuse bouche of cold smoked scallop “ceviche” with wafers of cucumber, accented with dill and jalapeno. The first course, a salad of baby arugula and dinosaur kale, along with grape tomatoes and toasted pine nuts, dressed with a lemon tahini sauce, had even kale-avoiders kvelling. The second course of grilled cheese and tomato soup turned out to be a platonic ideal of this iconic American luncheonette special. At our table we were all swooning over the Dan Finn “Aldernay blue” cheese over Bread Fellows toast and the ne plus ultra roasted tomato and garlic puree. The third course of crispy fish curry was perfectly done panko crusted cod “gujonettes,” bok choy and broccolini dressed with a spicy yellow curry, an apt match for the Floodwatch beer accompaniment. For the 4th course we were treated to a Black Lager marinated flat iron steak complemented, of course, by Nightshine, their black lager, as well as by spinach, roasted parsnips and turnips in a rich and delicious sauce. We finished with trays of tasty sweets and coffee.
Thank you, hosts Ed and Sally O’Neill, for putting on yet another of your many, many creative and engaging events. It was a meal that offered outstanding renditions of familiar food, an entertaining tutorial on beers and their food pairings, a superb music-listening experience which allowed for conversation, and, unexpectedly, a feeling of fulfillment that wasn’t just about the belly.~