Perfect Pairings: Chefs Share Their Favorite Craft Beers #CraftBeerWeek

American Craft Beer Week 2016

Beer – it’s what’s for dinner. These days, more chefs want diners to pair pints with their food rather than a bottle of wine. But what brew goes best with what bite? In honor of American Craft Beer Week 2016, we sat down with four beer-loving toques to have them pair their favorite craft beers with their favorite dishes.

Peter Smith, The Sovereign, Washington, D.C.
“I like sour beers. The super hoppy stuff doesn’t do it for me. I love Cantillon’s Gueuze. The tartness and the lemon go well with our mussels, especially the ones I prepare with saffron, smoked sausage, roasted garlic, and fennel. The beer cuts right through the spice. Bitterballen are basically croquettes filled with shredded short rib and chicken liver, breaded with pumpernickel and sourdough crumbs, and fried. I like them with De Ranke’s XX Bitter. It has a toasty note that goes well with the fried dough, it pairs well with the beef, and adds a little funk to the liver. If I’m having the Liegeoise salad, I go with Blaugies’ Saison d’Epeautre. It’s a little on the bitter side, but it’s still yeasty and bright. It cuts through the fat of the poached egg yolk and cuts off the sharpness of the vinaigrette.” Make a reservation at The Sovereign.

American Craft Beer Week 2016

John Critchley, Brine, Fairfax, Virginia
“My ideal meal is a burger, a dozen oysters, and a beer. When I was first talking to restaurateur Travis Croxton who owns Brine, I said, ‘We have to have a raw bar, a wood grill, and good beer.’ We have all three. I had never paid too much attention to Guinness or other nitro beers, but I love Flying Dog’s Bloodline, a blood orange IPA. I like the aroma and the creaminess that comes from the nitro. It goes down well with our house burger, which is dusted with vegetable ash, seared on the plancha, and then topped with sweet and vinegary red onion marmalade, Honeysuckle cheddar, and a lettuce slaw featuring a ‘Big Mac’ style sauce. Feed the Monkey, an orange hefeweizen from Jailbreak Brewing Company in Maryland, is another favorite. It’s a crisp, fruit forward wheat beer. I have that with our lambs and clams dish featuring merguez sausage, harissa, and crushed chilies. The beer cuts right through the spiciness. If I’m just having raw oysters, I have a Port City Optimal Wit. It’s clean and crisp with a lot of aromas of wheat and citrus. I could drink that beer anytime.” Make a reservation at Brine.

American Craft Beer Week 2016

Kyle Bailey, Sixth Engine, Washington, D.C.
“I used to hate beer when I was in high school because we’d drink the worst beers. I’d wonder, ‘What’s the point of this?’ The first time I had Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s Brewery, that’s when I finally got beer. Now I love it. Ocelot Brewing Company out of Sterling, Virginia, has a great IPA called Vandals. It’s hoppy, grassy, and herbal. I pair it with our goat cheese tortellini with ramp pesto accompanied by carrots braised in orange juice and crispy housemade pancetta. These are big, bold, a touch heavy flavors but still springtime tastes. The beer’s hoppy, grassy notes go well with the black pepper rich ramp pesto and the goat cheese with its creamy tartness. DC Brau’s Zehn von Zehn, a collaboration with Port City Brewing, is malty and delicious. I drink it with our butter-poached shrimp featuring a Romesco sauce made with red pepper, tomato, almond, and bread. It comes with Israeli couscous, salt-roasted sunchokes, and seared spring onions. The brininess of the shrimp and the bread in the Romesco go well with the maltiness of the beer. Lastly, I love 3 Stars Brewing Company’s Peppercorn Saison. It has a little bit of spice, but it’s bright and clean. I pair that with our deviled eggs topped with fried oyster and smoked trout roe. The bright, clean effervescence of the saison cuts through the dish – especially the Old Bay seasoning the yolks.” Make a reservation at Sixth Engine.

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Dig Your Claws Into 7 of the Best Crab Dishes in Maryland

In scientific circles, Maryland’s famed blue crab is referred to as Callinectes sapidus. Roughly translated, the Latin name means “beautiful swimmer that is savory.” These incomparably tasty crustaceans thrive in the brackish waters of the picturesque Chesapeake Bay, where they are harvested annually from roughly April until November. Because more than 50 percent of all the blue crab fished in this country comes from this stretch of the Atlantic, the Old Line State has rightfully earned a reputation as the go-to place to enjoy crabs. Here are seven of the best crab dishes you must try the next time you visit.

Wit & Wisdom, Baltimore
Whenever we walk into a restaurant and they have multiple iterations of blue crab, we always find ourselves torn. Do we go with the traditional cakes or try something else? Decisions, decisions! They make it easy at this waterfront eatery overlooking Baltimore’s much-Instagrammed harbor by offering a trio of preparations: crab cake with charred corn succotash, crispy soft shell with marinated cherry tomatoes and avocado, and a spicy tomato stew. Make a reservation at Wit & Wisdom.

Best Crab Dishes in Maryland

Iron Rooster, Annapolis
We love pancakes. We adore fried green tomatoes. And we have a lifelong passion for crab cakes. So this Cakes on Cakes dinner entrée is pretty much heaven for us. Jumbo lump crab cakes lightly seasoned with Dijon, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sautéed onions, and garlic sit atop cornmeal-crusted fried green tomatoes, which rest on cornmeal pancakes. The glorious triple stack is drenched with chipotle hollandaise and arrives with stalks of grilled asparagus. Make a reservation at Iron Rooster.

Best Crab Dishes in Maryland

City Café, Baltimore
For fans of blue crabs, soft shells are considered the greatest of delicacies. Having just molted their hard shell, they have a tender exterior, so the crab can be eaten in their entirety. This can be a little disconcerting for first timers, but let us assure you – they’re delicious. When you bite into the soft shell, it crackles and cracks like a potato chip with just the slightest bit of chew. Chef Jennings encrusts one with macadamia nuts and garnishes it with a lemon basil-accented tomato-avocado salad. It rests atop a hillock of buttery mashed potatoes. Make a reservation at City Café.

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Hallelujah! 5 Top Gospel Brunches

Get ready to raise the roof; there’s nothing quite like a gospel brunch. Powerful, soul-searching music, Southern-inspired soul food, and celestial cocktails — even church never felt so good. These top gospel brunches offer the faithful fantastic chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits, along with heavenly voices, welcoming Southern hospitality, and a sweet side of spirituality. Preach!

Ginny’s Supper Club, New York, New York
Rise and shine! New Yorkers have been praising the gospel brunch in the Red Rooster’s downstairs area known as Ginny’s Supper Club for years. Chef Marcus Samuelsson creates sinful comfort food like cornbread (with honey butter and tomato jam), Mac & Greens (New York cheddar and Parmesan – plus lobster if you like); Fried Yardbird (dark meat, white mace gravy, mashed potatoes, and bread and butter pickles); Shrimp & Grits (cheddar grits, piri piri, and frogmore stew), The Bird and the Egg (fried chicken, waffle, and red eye gravy) and Rum Cake with Strawberries (caramel and Thai long peppercorn ice cream). Order a Bloody Mary or Red Eye Rooster (Bloody Mary and beer) and worship your meal while listening to local talent like the gospel sounds of Vy Higginsen’s Choir. Make a reservation at Ginny’s Supper Club.

gospel brunches

Halls Chophouse, Charleston, South Carolina
Clap along with the Plantation Singers who perform gospel every Sunday at this much-lauded family steakhouse. Traditional brunch items are served with twists like French toast that’s prepared with a lavender-scented brioche and cornflake crust. You can also expect a helping of traditional Southern food like Shrimp & Grits and the Lowcountry Omelet (shrimp, crab, peppers, and onions, cheddar and Swiss, collard greens, pepper jack grits, and hash brown potatoes). Throw in a side of collard greens along with a Bloody or Bellini (Champagne, peach schnapps, passion fruit) and you’ve got a meal made in heaven. Make a reservation at Halls Chophouse.

gospel brunches

House of Blues, various locations, U.S.A.
Go tell it on the mountain; a gospel brunch is served on Sundays at 11 House of Blues locations around the country. Local talent chosen by celebrated gospel producer and artist Kirk Franklin perform uplifting gospel tunes that’ll have you on your feet, and there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet with items like Creole Chicken Jambalaya, Chicken and Waffles (with Vermont maple syrup, housemade Buffalo sauce, fresh strawberries, and homemade whipped cream), and a create-your-own Bloody Mary bar (think bacon and hot sauce.) Heavens to Betsy, the House of Blues in Anaheim, California, now located in Downtown Disney, is moving to a larger venue at the Anaheim GardenWalk in the Anaheim Resort District this summer. Make a reservation at The House of Blues.

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5 Delicious Brunch Trends to Plan your Weekends Around

Two scrambled eggs with a side of toast? Think again. Breakfast moves from the ordinary to the extraordinary with exciting and inventive brunch options that pack a punch. So whether you’re looking for breakfast punch and want to nurse a large-format cocktail, or need to knock out a hangover with indulgences like breakfast poutine crafted from hand-rolled tater tots, there are new brunch trends being served in your neighborhood.

Chilaquiles

Almost as much fun to say as it is to eat, this Latin dish of shredded tortillas, egg, crema, and beans rolls off the tongue as “chee-lah-KEE-lehs.” Though it may not be the easiest to pronounce if you’re nursing a hangover, it is the perfect cure for one, says Chris Cullen, manager of Barrio Mexican Kitchen & Bar. The restaurant serves up a new version of chilaquiles daily depending on what’s in season, but recent versions include green-chile-braised pork with asparagus cream sauce; chipotle-braised chicken; and spicy habanero crema. No matter what’s in them, it’s easy to describe this winning combination as “breakfast nachos” to the uninitiated, says Cullen, who recently spent time vacationing in Guadalajara to research just how authentic those at Barrio are. “The similarities were striking,” he says.

brunch trends

Eggs Shakshouka

Whether it’s food or music, Beat Brasserie in Cambridge and its sister restaurant Beehive in Boston’s historic South End make it a point to jazz things up, and the shakshouka is no different. The traditional Middle Eastern dish of poached eggs baked in a spicy North African tomato sauce with polenta and Moroccan sausage is served at both restaurants, as is a side of live music for the Sunday brunch service. Chef Daniel Boulud gets into the game where the Mediterranean meets Manhattan at Boulud Sud, serving up shakshouka with spicy green harissa sauce, labneh, and a soft-poached hen egg.

Brunch Trends

Tater Tots

Push those home fries to the side—there’s a new spud in town. Tater tots have moved far beyond what’s been frozen in a bag to the downright gourmet, including the 1,000 hand-shaped tots Marc Taft serves up weekly as executive chef and owner of Chicken and the Egg in Marietta, Georgia. The most popular brunch dish there, whether for sharing or indulging, is his tater tot poutine that combines a Canadian staple with upscale Southern comfort food: Springer mountain chicken roasted and hand-shaved, caramelized Vidalia onions, and garlic-and-thyme-roasted mushrooms topped with chicken gravy made from homemade stock and cheese shredded in-house. Northward in Baltimore, Alexander’s Tavern puts a morning spin on their specialty — gourmet tots — with a breakfast bowl featuring fried potatoes, bacon, sausage, cheese, and a bit of sweet maple syrup to offset the savory.

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