Saturday, September 11, 2010

Boar and Beer

Chris Carriker, who's been head chef at Gilt Club for about a year, is having a lot of fun at work, as was evident in the all-out wild boar dinner he and Gilt owner Jamie Dunn hosted there on Wednesday. He got his hands on a whole 77-pound boar and made charcuterie, roasts and even dessert out of it, blowing the minds of a table full of chefs, food bloggers and their lucky plus-ones.

A seven-course spectacle of deliciously rich, salty, gamey wild boar interpretations gives lots of chances to toy around with drink pairings. I like pairing with this kind of food because it stands up to a lot without being overwhelmed. Whiskey drinks worked well - I had a Brooklyn and my arm candy had a Sazerac - but the Rodenbach Grand Cru Lucy and Tony brought and generously shared with us was even better.

Rodenbach is a Belgian sour beer (by way of Saraveza) with a lot of personality. It's fresh and funky sort of like a saison, and sour and fruity sort of like Duchesse de Bourgogne but without the sweetness. The combination of bold flavor and crisp tartness meant the beer shone articulately through the whole meal while also working to cleanse the palate. It was a great match for everything on the table - mellow but unbelievably flavorful boar loin and liver sausage, butter lettuce salad with snacky crisp boar ears and bacon, fatty trotters with foie gras and mushrooms, perfect gnocci with bits of melty slow-cooked boar, boar tenderloin roast with succulent succotash, some sort of boar something wrapped in chicken skin with more foie gras, and the so-wrong-it's-right boar liver creme caramel with figs and berries.

I've been reluctant to accept the coming autumn, but if it provides a suitable environment for sturdy, warming flavors like these, I think I can handle it. After a summer of delicious but direct food-as-fuel, I want to have fun with it too. Thanks guys.

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