Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Recap of I'm a Beer Hound 2 Year Anniversary at Soup Spoon Cafe

Written by  Ryan Ranspach
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The Soup Spoon Cafe

Last month, we celebrated our second anniversary with a delicious and fun dinner at the Soup Spoon Café in Lansing. It was a five course meal designed by the Nick Gavrilides, owner of the Spoon and Jason Blastic, head chef. We were very excited for this dinner not just because it was a milestone for our project but because of the marvelous creations that come out of Soup Spoon’s kitchen each day, and especially for private beer dinners.
So the dinner was four courses, and to start out the night we relaxed and took our seats with a pre-dinner pint of Founder’s Pale Ale. This is a standby beer for me and is always drinkable and refreshing. It was also a good place to start as we knew the heavier, more distinct (and strong) beers lie head. We were greeted with a warm welcome by Nick and a few words of thanks and appreciation for the support of all the loyal beerhounds from Paul Starr, Head Hound.

After the pleasantries, it was time to settle in for the meal. For the first course, Chef Jason prepared a Jumbo shrimp appetizer served in a fruit reduction with bleu cheese and bacon as accompaniments. This salty, sweet, yet delicate dish was paired with New Holland Brewing Company’s Pilgrim’s Dole, a big and boozy wheatwine. It’s raisiny, dried fruit notes worked wonderfully with the fruit reduction and the kind of stale, musty feel of the wheatwine paired very nice with the bleu cheese and shrimp combination. This was a great dish and marvelously prepared and plated.

The second course was a beer cheese soup paired with Good Humans, a double brown ale from Short’s Brewing Company. As one would expect from The Soup Spoon Café, the soup was fantastic. The vegetables were perfectly cooked, not too mushy or too crisp, and the gentle bitterness from the beer which is distinct in a beer cheese soup was balanced perfectly with a warming, malty finish. The beer, a staple of Short’s’ portfolio, was great for this dish. It has a slightly bitter hoppiness at the front that evens out with malt and roasted nuts on the finish. It worked very well with soup, and I happily emptied my glass and bowl.

The third course was a chicken curry served with mahatma rice and was paired with Greenbush Brewing Company’s Dunegras IPA. Quite simply, I was blown away by this dish. My wife doesn't eat curry so I, as Jules from Pulp Fiction lamented about his vegetarian girlfriend, don’t get to eat it very much. Some curries are very soupy and though tasting good actually look like a big mess, but Chef Jason’s was dryer and more condensed. It was absolutely delicious and the rice was fluffy and perfectly cooked. The dish had just the right amount of heat without making it uncomfortable to eat. And the beer, an earthy and aromatic IPA, paired outstandingly with the dish. Many, including myself, thought this was the crown jewel pairing of the night.

For dessert, we were presented a very generous slice of mocha cheesecake paired with the Espresso Love coffee stout from Arbor Brewing. Coffee stout with homemade, delicious cheesecake…how bad can that be?? This was a great dessert and great capping of the night.

After dinner we gave Chef Jason a warm ovation for his hard work and care put into these culinary delights. Paul from I’m a Beerhound also raffled off several bottles of Black Walnut Milk Stout, a beer brewed collaboratively by him and the Lansing area’s newest beer wizards, Gearhead Brewing. Everyone really enjoyed themselves at this event and we all left excited for another year as Howling Hounds. Great job, I’m a Beerhound and everyone at The Soup Spoon Café!