If you’ve been paying attention to this site, you know this was a pretty eagerly awaited event for both Bill and I. Bill is a big Bell’s fan and I was looking for drinking some beers and eating with friends.
When we arrived I was happy to see that we were not the only ones who were looking forward to this event. While I wouldn’t have called it a sell-out, it was definitely a full house. We were fortunate to be seated next to the owners of Sugaree Baking Company and also a chef from L’Ecole Culinaire, this provided not only interesting conversation but also the ability to bounce our thoughts on the dishes to each other.
Roasted beets (tossed with herb goat cheese and beet reduction) with
Bell’s Winter Wheat Bell’s Third Coast Beer.
This dish was originally supposed to paired with Bell’s Winter Wheat. Unfortunately Mangia couldn’t get the beer in time and a Third Coast substitute was brought in at the last moment. This was a bit of a disappointment as Bill and I were interested in seeing how the spice of the Winter Wheat would pair with this salad. The hoppiness of the Third Coast seemed to almost fight the delicate nature of the dish. I enjoyed both the dish and the beer on their own, but they didn’t seem to pair well together.
Seared sea scallops (over
butternut soup butternut risotto) & Amber Ale
This was my standout pairing of the evening. I found that the soft flavors of the scallop and risotto melded quite beautifully with the Amber Ale. Many American Ambers often skew toward being overly hoppy, but this one was well balanced which I think is what helped make this such an excellent pairing. My only complaint about this dish was that the risotto was a tad overcooked yet the squash seemed undercooked to me.
Pan-fried pork medallions (w/ braised apples and greens) & Pale Ale
Unfortunately after what I thought was an almost picture perfect pairing, it was followed up with my least favorite dish of the evening. I hesitate to judge the pairing as I didn’t really enjoy the pork very much. It seemed kind of spongy and lacked any real chew or texture.
Smoked chicken tortellini (w/ black mole sauce) & Porter
This dish is the one that caught my eye when I read the menu the first time. I really enjoyed how well the smokiness of the chicken melded with the mole sauce and paired nicely with the porter.
I’ll be honest, at this point I was getting pretty full. I appreciate the portions that Mangia provided us for this event, but if they could have trimmed them down slightly I think I would have made it a bit more comfortable down the stretch.
Beef stew (w/ caramelized onions and spaetzle) & Kalamazoo Stout
I guess I was a bit confused when this dish arrived. I had a preconceived notion of what to expect for beef stew and this wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It seemed more like a ragu, it was very tomato-y. The beer did pair pretty well with the dish. I thought that bitterness of the stout provided a nice contrast to the bright tomato flavors.
Brown sugar and almond bread pudding (w/ housemade ice cream) & Cherry Stout
This was Bill Burge’s favorite dish of the night, the vanilla ice cream and the bread pudding were very delicious. Unfortunately I don’t think they paired very well with the Cherry Stout. The sweetness cherries almost seem to overtake the pudding and make everything a bit too sweet. This is another dish in which I enjoyed the beer and food separately, but not paired together. I would have rather seen the Kalamazoo Stout or Porter in the final spot where the bitterness of the beer would compliment the sweetness of the dish.
Overall for 50 dollars it was a lot of good food and beer. Most importantly it was a great time, we all had a lot of fun and met some really great people. I’m looking forward to the next beer dinner and also going back to Mangia (they have a really good beer selection!)