I can safely say that what I experienced on Saturday 19 September was a pretty unique merging of crafts. Brandt & Levie, artisanal sausage makers in Amsterdam, hosted an exclusive tour of their premises followed by what was aptly named a ‘Worst Beer Dinner’. If you’re not Dutch, you don’t get the pun – but no worries, many Dutch didn’t get it either.
Jiri Brandt and Samuel Levie founded their artisanal butchery together with Geert van Wersch in 2011. They go way back together and at some stage found themselves in Italy, on a quest to learn all there is to know about the art of using pork meat in general and sausage making in particular. In Italy they bumped into an American guy they befriended and always kept in touch with. This guy, Andrew Gerson, is now the resident Chef of Brooklyn Brewery. He gets to travel the world to introduce people to the pleasures of beer at the table. His travels brought him to Amsterdam, to team up with local chefs and his old friends from Brandt & Levie. And that led to ‘Worst Beer Dinner!’
I won’t bore you with all details, but Bier&cO flew some special Brooklyn brews in just for the occasion. True to the principles of Slow Food Gerson only works with seasonal products, so that what determines the menu. With the wide and versatile beers of Brooklyn Brewery he then decides the pairings and the party can begin. The full menu can be read on the Facebook page of one of my colleagues, ‘The’ Bart van Kleef who played his always unique role in putting the act together. Two of the six courses blew me out of my shoes!
Scallops with Black Pudding is a killer already, but the thinly sliced apple, sautéed onion and a devilishly delicate little sauce made it into an atomic bomb-like taste sensation. Paired to Local 1 (a Belgian style Blond Strong Ale – think Duvel) aged on American Oak with cider lees, it was turned up a notch to be H-bomb level. Yet, the harmony was the most impressive of the dish. Simply brilliant.
The Fillet with fall vegetable was impressive, also due to the composition of the plate making it look like a Karel Appel painting from his paint throwing days, but the second of two desserts was again a total knock-out. The first dessert had a surprising element, mousseline colored with pig blood –but the Chocolate Bacon Caramel paired to Cuvée Noire (a beer beyond style, but think Belgian yeast, stout and plenty residual sugar to play with the orange peel) blew it away with ease. This finished the evening off but kept ringing my taste buds until breakfast. These meetings of craft – we should see more of them….