Dallas has few diversions other than eating, drinking and shopping.....and shopping does not interest us.
So we spend our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant and to every pub that we can find in search of the perfect meal and the perfect beer.

We randomly review restaurants and bars, dishes and beers at whim and give our brutally honest opinions of our findings. And while we concentrate on Dallas, we travel far and wide to sample cuisine from all regions of the country and beyond.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Event Review: Il Cane Rosso Beer Dinner

Beer and Food Pairing at Cane Rosso, Dallas.

Let me begin by thanking all of those who attended our evening of debauchery last Thursday.  It is always a joy to share good food and good beer with friends, old and new.  I also cannot say enough about how much I appreciate the efforts of Stephanie Meyer for putting this all together.  I would also be remiss if I did not praise the chef Matt Reddick for his skills at not only preparing a wonderful dinner, but matching the food to our rather odd beer choices so very well.  The dishes were all served family style which was genius in that it encouraged interraction between the attendees.

My inclination is to pat everyone involved in this dinner on the back and say "well done, very well done indeed" in reviewing this event, which was partially sponsored by the Dallas Beer Snobs, and let it be enough.  However I must be true to my nature and give you a truthful and fair review.

The theme of the evening was spring beers and lighter fare.  The beers chosen are those typically brewed for spring release or 'springy' in nature like our welcoming beer, Allagash White, a Belgian style Wit beer (5.5% ABV), which is light, slightly citrus and mildly sweet and was intended to stimulate the palate for the delights to come.  We were also intent on using as many locally brewed beers in the pairing as possible.

Our first course featured the Rahr Bucking Bock (7.5% ABV) which is styled after traditional german spring bocks.  It is dark golden in color and has a moderate head that dissapates rather quickly.  While the traditional german bock is more like a cask aged, slightly sweet lager, Rahr chose to produce theirs with a bit more hops and lots of carbonation which should appeal to those who prefer to drink mass market fuzzy yellow water.  The appetizer featured a house made ricotta cheese, canneloni beans (which were cooked in the Bucking Bock), house marinated olives and bruschetta.  At first taste I was a bit dissappointed with the ricotta finding it rather bland, however one of my table mates corrected me by showing that the ricotto was served best spread on a piece of bruschetta and topped with the olives and beans.  Oops, my mistake and consumed as intended it was really, really good.  The bruschetta served with all of the ingredients piled upon it was quite nice and with the beer accompanyment would have made a fine meal by itself.  But that was just the beginning.

The second couse in Italian dining is always the pasta course, and what a pasta course it was.  If I had the opportunity to chose my final meal it would be fettucini alfredo and Chef Reddick's version may well be the one I choose ..... assuming, of course .... you know .... that I get to choose.  House made fettucini with Robiola cheese, pea tendrils and proscuitto.  Robiola cheese is made from a blend of cow, goat and sheep milk and has a high fat content which allows it to melt wonderfully.  The very full, slightly sour, tangy nature of the cheese was perfectly offset by the sweet threads of green pea tendrils hidden throughout and with the addition of proscuitto (not bacon, no stinking bacon here, proscuitto) it was divine.  The beer chosen to accompany the pasta was a saison.  Saisons are Belgian farmhouse ales that are typically served in the summer, but chosen because the tastes remind you of spring, of gardens, and of growing things and are usually of lighter flavor which will not overpower the delicate flavors found in pastas.

Let's take a pause here and give kudos to our third partner in this endevour.  If you have not heard there is a new brewery opening in Deep Ellum and goes by the name of *tada* The Deep Ellum Brewing Company.  They generously offered to produce a special saison for our dinner which we were happy to accept.  Alas this was probably the biggest hickup of the night and was simply caused by the lack of time needed to produce the beer.  Brewed with triticale grain, pilsner and honey malts, grapefruit peel, toasted coriander, candied ginger, chamomile flowers, and American hops, then fermented using their own in house Belgian yeast culture you could taste hints of what we surmise will be a fantastic saison/wit hybrid, but the time was short and we all jumped the gun a bit forcing something which cannot be forced and it ended up tasting a bit like ...... armpits.  We will anxiously await the finished product before passing final judgement.

The third couse in Italian dining is the heart of the meal ... the course that fills you up and sticks to your ribs ... the meat course.  Il Cane Rosso serves meats sourced locally at Jimmy's Food Store on Bryan Street.  What?  You've never heard of it?  Are you kidding me?  It's famous for goodness sakes, at least go and try the sandwiches.  Ok, sorry about the rant.  Their handmade spicy Italian sausage is spicy.  How spicy?  Hot enough to suit Texas tastebuds that have been permanently damaged from continuous jalepeno ingesting.  Place a big old hunk of that fire on a creamy bed of marscapone and parmesian polenta and top it with green onions and that my friends is what you call sublime.  I literally went from table to table looking for scraps left by snobs who were still trying to digest the fettucine.  What kind of beer do you serve with such power and heat?  The beer needs to either be overpowering to stand on it's own or you may choose a beer to enhance the meal.  Ego wants the former, but this dinner was not about the beer, it was about the food so Belhaven Scottish Ale was chosen as the accompanyment.  Slightly sweet, malty, grainy, earthy background flavors found in Belhaven allows it to compliment meat like very few ales can.  The sausage was also braised with the ale to marry the flavors throughout the course.  In addition, Belhaven uses nitrogen to create a smooth, creamy brew that soothes the fire on your tongue unlike beers with carbonation, which enhance the pain.

The biggest surprise of the evening arrived during the dessert courses.  That's right, courses ... two desserts.  The chef whipped out a wonderful carmelized apple dessert pizza on us.  SCORE!  But to top it off Drew Huerter, the new brewmaster from Deep Ellum Brewing Company whips out a Stock Ale that has been aging for 3 years.  The caramel, dark fruit and malts from the ale matched perfectly with the pizza.  Good show indeed.  This delightful ale more than made up for the hiccup we had earlier in the evening.  If this is what we can expect from DEBC then we should all start queuing at their door now.

The second dessert course a light, strawberry-apple crumble with a drizzle over the top made from caramel and a reduction from Sisyphus Barley Wine.  Sisyphus (11% ABV) was chosen due to it's dryness.  We often use a Quadruppel or a Chocolate Stout to accompany desserts because of their sweetness, which enhances the sweetness of the desserts.  However, if you are making a dessert with fruit you want a beer that is dry and bubbly.  Think of strawberries and champagne.  Sisyphus is highly carbonated and sweet, but it is also dry and hoppy and makes for an intense experience on it's own.  Paired with the strawberries and apples it was superb, as was the dessert itself.  The desserts were probably the best pairings of the evening. 

The high alcohol content of the Barleywine was the straw that broke the camel's back for most of us and with bleary eyes, stuffed guts and satisfyed smiles we all staggered to the door, hoping like hell that we can do this again.  Thanks to Il Cane Rosso and The Deep Ellum Brewing Company for your time and effort.

Il Cane Rosso
2612 Commerce St
Dallas, TX 75226-1402

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