To be fair… this one doesn’t technically fit the parameters of why I started this blog. This place is not a new one for me. I actually go here often. Quite often. In all honesty, almost once a week. Nevertheless, I am including it, because it was a new experience. This past Tuesday, Wit and Wisdom started a series of dinners: “He said… She said…”.
This first one was “He said beer… She said wine”, which pitted Advanced Sommelier Julie Dalton and Lead Bartender Aaron Joseph in a side-by-side battle to answer the age-old questions of what pairs best. Neither contestants tasted the menu beforehand, and in fact didn’t even know the menu until the morning of.
We had a five course meal where each course was served with a half pour of wine and beer. Oh, but to start, we had a cocktail made with gin, blueberry puree and lavender – as if the 5 beers and 5 wines wasn’t going to be enough….
The first course – an chilled english pea soup with a country ham foam. The minute I saw the hock style glass, I wrote the wine off. I felt like the sommelier was reading my mind when she introduced her pairing: a Austrian Gruner Veltliner, describing that despite the shape of the glass the wine is very dry. The beer was the Dogfish Head 60 min IPA. The fantastic things about pairings is the combination. I do not like IPAs and hoppy beers and I loved the wine. But, with the salty chilled soup, for me the beer was much more enjoyable and the wine was starting a fight.
The second course was Zach Mills famous Bone Marrow Oscar: perfectly roasted bone marrow topped with Maryland blue crab. I had no idea that they would work so well together, but the sweet crab somehow cuts the heavy bone marrow making for a savory dish. Both pairings were winners – creating a “party on the palate” for me. I think I picked the fruity, sparking Ribolla Gialla out of Italy over the Heavy Seas Small Craft.
The most eye appealing course was the Squid Ink Pasta. I mean look at this bowl… Although, I find squid ink pasta to be a little chewy, I loved the way this went with the crunchy edamame and excellently sautéed calamari. The Flying Dog Red Ale was a nice citrusy pairing for this dish, but I chose the Rosé de Pinot Noir from Germany. (spoiler alert – Pinot Noir is my favorite wine)
I think my favorite course of the night was Dr. Joe’s Duck. Crispy duck with braised rhubarb, blood orange, and fennel. The chef is creative and ingenious; I think I ate every bite of this dish. This was a tight pairing for me. On the other hand, the Allagash White “has complexity, and stands for itself”. The Nebbiolo had a tannic finish with notes of endive and rhubarb. I might have been alone in this one, but I chose the Allagash.
The dessert course by Chef Diane was a tasty watermelon with herbs and espellete. In fact, the watermelon alone was good enough to be the winner. Nevertheless, there were really great pairings for this one too. Stillwater Brewery’s Cellar Door with notes of white sage vs. the floral Spanish Moscatel with hints of orange blossom.
The battle was close, course 1 & 3 for wine and 2 & 4 for beer, so it all depended on dessert… the winner (based on votes from the group) was…
wait for it…
Thank goodness for UBER, or I never would have made it home safely… if you haven’t tried, them – the link gives you a coupon for your first ride free… Well $20 off, and I have only once had a ride more than that and it was all the way to the airport….