Friday, November 21, 2014

Goddess Thanksgiving with Revolution Brewing and Chef Stephanie Izard

By guest contributor MC Johnsen

On Wednesday, November 12th, at Goddess and Grocer’s newly renovated Damen location, I had the pleasure of attending “Goddess Thanksgiving” dinner with beer pairings featuring the culinary talents of well-accoladed Chicago chef Stephanie Izard and the beers of local favorite, Revolution Brewing. Izard is also a local favorite – she was the first female to win Bravo TV’s Top Chef (2008) and is the Executive Chef of well-loved local restaurants, Girl and the Goat and Little Goat. Izard comedically narrated four demos of her cooking process to a lively crowd of fifty, which showcased her new line of three sauces and three rubs branded “The Flavor.”

Chef Stephanie Izard demos recipes featuring her product line, "The Flavor."
Throughout the course of the evening, we enjoyed Chef Izard’s dishes which were each thoughtfully paired with a Revolution beer. Stephanie only pressed pause to sip these delicious (and generous) three ounce pours, and to turn the floor over to Revolution Head Brewer, Jim Cibak, for some off-the-cuff beer schooling. Cibak explained the impetus behind each paired beer, and aptly reminded us all that brewing and cooking share a common key ingredient: balance.

Welcome Beer: Oktoberfest Marzen Style beer
We were each greeted with a pour of Revolution’s Oktoberfest, a well-balanced, bready beauty made from malt sourced entirely from Germany. Über-authentic and easy-drinking, this was a perfect gateway into the rich abundance of flavors we were about to experience.

1st Course: Fist City American Pale Ale, Holiday Brussels Sprouts + The Saute
After Cibak enumerated the aromatic qualities of this hoppy american pale ale – powerfully floral and citrusy in aroma, a creamy head of white foam, clear as a bell and golden orange in color with a citrusy hop bite – Stephanie regaled us (all while preparing the Brussels sprouts) with her own personal experience surrounding the uses of commercial hop pellets: “Don’t ever throw a hop pellet into your mouth.” The crowd roared.

Our Brussels sprouts arrived charred, quartered, and gleaming in butter, piled on the plate with purple radicchio leaves and crunchy Marcona almonds. “The Saute’s” fish flavors really came through as a fatty, quenching, umami sensation, which contrasted delightfully with the Fist City APA. Its citrusy floral elements were highlighted beautifully by the saltiness of the dish, and even some spicy herbal notes came forward to compliment the subtle, building heat from The Saute sauce.

2nd Course: Red Skull Imperial Red Ale, Butternut Squash Kimchee + The Chee
Next came butternut squash “quick kimchee.” Stephanie used The Chee sauce to speedily impart a fermented soybean flavor to paper-thin squash shavings. Half-moon slices of fennel bulb and basil chiffonade completed this richly flavorful dish, which was expertly paired with an equally rich beer.

A ruby red color, Red Skull’s sweet aroma contrasted perfectly with the spicy, pickled scent coming off the bright orange plate of salty squash. The sweet malt of the boozy beer stood up strongly next to the powerful kimchee flavors, tasting similarly spicy and herbal in comparison.


3rd Course: Eugene Porter, Peking Style Roasted Turkey + The Marinade,
 
Croissant Turkey Gravy, + Rub #1, Spiced Apple Sausage Stuffing + Rub #2
My favorite pairing of the night came third. Nothing could have prepared my taste buds for the utter salivation and joy they experienced when Izard plopped the tray of just-prepared spiced apple and sausage stuffing with peking-style roasted turkey, smothered in croissant turkey gravy onto the table I serendipitously chose as mine. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. Yes, I gobbled more than I should have. No, I did not care – it was #goddessthanksgiving, dammit.

This particularly decadent dish was paired with Revolution’s Eugene Porter, a dark black beer with garnet highlights, this opaque brew was smooth and barely bitter with hints of coffee and caramel and a slightly fruity, roasted chocolate finish. When paired with the dish, the beer’s fruity sweetness was really brought to the forefront, its roasted malt finish effortlessly melding with the flavors of the roasted meat and the sliced apples. Absolutely delightful… and I’m drooling just thinking about it.

4th Course: Gravedigger Billy Barrel Aged Scotch Ale, Pecan Not Pie + The Marinade
Chef Stephanie left us with a scoop of sweet vanilla gelato topped with warmed pecan pieces smothered in browned butter, sugar, and cream. The decadent dessert was paired with Gravedigger Billy, a 10.4% ABV Scotch ale aged in Old Forrester Woodford Reserve barrels for 6 months. This boozy, sweet, strong beer was a caramel brown hue that tasted like a maraschino cherry dipped in bourbon. This beer, quite literally, was the liquid cherry on top of a mound of gooey pecan goodness, its candied flavors in perfect harmony with the sweet, creamy treat. 

Jim Cibak, MC Johnsen, Stephanie Izard


Stephanie Izard truly put on a cooking clinic, giving us all a delicious taste of what it’s like to observe someone in their element, doing what they’re meant to do on this planet earth. Goddess and Grocer was the most gracious hostess, and the Revolution beers were the icing on the cake (or the topping on the not-pie). Cheers to all, and thanks for a night my taste buds and tummy won’t soon forget. 


MC Johnsen is a professional graphic designer and illustrator based in Chicago, IL. She is also the artist and author behind beer blog Worth a Thousand Beers. In her spare time MC enjoys homebrewing, taking on DIY projects, CrossFit, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix. Her favorite coffee beverage is an Americano, and she shares a home with her husband Matt and their dog Dallas in Lombard, IL. You can find her on Twitter @worth1000beers.

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