Earlier this year, , the hidden gem located inside the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center off of I-83 in New Cumberland, began hosting Chef s Table events matched with local breweries.
The first, held in late January, was in collaboration with Millbock Brewing Co. out of Linglestown, and was a near-perfect event. I wrote a .
The second, a dinner highlighting York s , was this past weekend.
Liquid Hero provided four of their beers, which The Garlic Poet s Chef Kurt Wewer matched to four courses, starting light, building to a full-bodied crescendo and then finishing with a spicy-sweet finish.
During the event, Wewer walks in slow circles around the Chef s Table area, beer in hand, signature sweatband across his forehead, explaining each dish, its ingredients and origin.
We started with a eye-catching baby octopus salad, set atop dandelion greens and finished with a Chipotle-Horseradish-Blood Orange Vinaigrette and edible flowers. This light and tasty starter was paired with Liquid Hero s HeroWeizen, their take on the classic German wheat beer. Together they were terrific indicators of a coming spring, light yet flavorful. Another win for Chef Wewer.
Our second course was a charcuterie plate, something Wewer maintains as a menu -- and event -- staple, though its components change often and easily. Charcuterie refers to the meat products, like hand-made salamis, pates and sausages, though they are often complemented by pickled vegetables, mustards and jams.
This evening s selection included lemon-fennel-pork belly sausage, Fourme d Ambert bleu cheese, citrus and Cascade Hop-infused fig jam, pickled mixed vegetables, grilled ale focaccia and housemade whole grain mustard. Wewer paired this with Liquid Hero s limited release Imperial Stout. While most would pair a bright and hoppy pale ale or IPA with charcuterie, this experimental dark and roasty stout soothed the zings of mustard and vinegar -- a true palate pleaser and my favorite course of the night.
Pennsylvania Scottish Highland Beef Osso Bucco was the star entree of the event. Delivered by the farmers themselves -- Sugar Hill Farm from St. Marys, Pa. -- this organic and grass fed beef was braised in juniper-infused HeroWeizen ragu. Fork-tender and served bone-in, we received straws to suck out the delicious marrow, much to my table s delight.
The Osso Bucco was paired with Liquid Hero s American Hero, the very first beer the brewing trio created in a turkey fryer in their backyard. Since then, it s gone through more than 20 modifications to become the Hero it is today. This was a solid amber ale, in fact my husband s favorite brew of the evening. It stood up to the beef but didn t overpower it.
Though otherwise portion-perfect, the Osso Bucco was a huge serving, though no one else at my table besides me had trouble finishing it. This was hands-down the crowd pleaser of the dinner.
The final show was dessert. Wewer prepared mango gelato over warm Fresno Chili crepes, topped with candied whole hops. The chilis were mild, and the combination was terrific. We all cried for more hop candy -- it was outstanding. This beer pairing, however, was the only let-down of the event. To accompany dessert, we had Liquid Hero s Irregardless IPA (they know, it s not a word). I wish I d tried the beer before the mango, but together the punch was too much. None of us enjoyed this pairing; the beer came off as way too bitter. The flavor did seem to mellow out when sipped alone.
All in all, however, another successful beer pairing dinner from The Garlic Poet.
Chef Wewer is a rising culinary star. Young and inspired, he uses his background in hunting, butchering and homebrewing -- as well as gardening (he grows an on-site garden from which he plucks herbs and other edibles during the growing season) -- to craft an interesting, ever-changing menu focused on balanced, creative and complementary flavors and textures.
Not just a good cook, Wewer s dozen staffers love and learn from him, and his ability to talk food and drink to customers in the dining room or from behind the bar sets him apart from most.
Wewer also hand-selects the restaurant s beer menu, which features 18 drafts and a bottle selection. And though he told me, I pretty much just pick what I like to drink, it s actually a finely curated list that focuses on -- though not exclusively -- local and regional brews.
The next Chef s Table at The Garlic Poet is slated for May 10 with from Chambersburg. Follow on , or to learn details as the date approaches.
SARA BOZICH: Celebrate responsibly.
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