I’ve been so behind on posts lately. So much good food, so many great producers, so many fabulous restaurants and so little time to write about it all.
Last month, I was invited to Iron Hill Brewery in Maple Shade for a Farm to Table Brewmaster’s Dinner. Iron Hill is a local brewery with 9 location in the region (and a 10th opening in the next few months in Voorhees). Each location brews beer in house, making the restaurants great destinations for local beer. The restaurants also incorporate local foods when they can, and the dinner that Brian and I were invited to attend paired Iron Hills great beers with meats and cheese from Cherry Grove Farms in Lawrenceville and produce from Springdale Farms in Cherry Hill.
Head Chef Michael Casciello and Head Brewer Chris LaPierre put together a fresh, delicious dinner for their monthly beer and food pairing dinner. The restaurant runs pairing dinners that are separate from their normal menu regularly, so even though this Farm to Table Brewmaster’s Dinner has passed, you can chose from other themed dinners that the restaurant hosts. We were seated at a table with about 10 people which enhanced the experience. We all got to compare thoughts on the food and beer we were being served, get to know each other a little bit, and swap stories of food and beer. (And stories of zombie apocalypse preparedness, but I can’t promise you’ll get that at other Iron Hill dinners.)
On to the menu. It should surprise no one that my favorite part of the meal was the first course, the cheese and beer pairing. I finally had the opportunity to taste Cherry Grove’s award-winning Toma, and wow, is it delicious and two of the farm’s other great cheeses. Paired with Iron Hill’s Saison, I could have spent the evening simply eating cheese and drinking the beer, but there were four more courses to be enjoyed.
The second course consisted of oxtail dumpling (a first for me) with some fresh ricotta (yay, more cheese!) paired with Oktoberfest beer. That was followed by braised berkshire pork belly, baked navy bean, corn bread and Pig Iron Porter. The porter was my favorite beer of the evening. It’s aged in bourbon casks, and it’s a nutty, chocolatey, rich beer. Oh, and I can’t forget the candied bacon that came with that course. I’m not one of these “bacon is next to God” people, but I would be a happy girl with a big ol’ vat of candied bacon to snack on during the day while I’m writing.
The fourth course contained another first for me – duck egg. We were served duck carbonara with snap peas, acorn squash and duck egg yolk on top. Very good. That was paired with St. Modestus. A little fruity for my taste, but others at the table really enjoyed it. Finally, we were served dessert – a local farm beet dessert trio – chocolate beet cake, golden beet brulee, and red beet gelato. The vegetable-laden desserts were served with Whitesbog Blueberry Ale, a beer made with lueberries picked 24 hours before they went into the beer from Moore’s Meadows in Tabernacle. There are one pound of blueberries in every gallon of the beer. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the blueberry beer.
The next Brewmaster’s Dinner will be a Medieval Dinner with two seatings – Tuesday, November 13, 7 pm and Wednesday, November 14, 7 pm. The event costs $65 per person and reservations are required. It will feature five meat-heavy courses expertly paired, of course, with Iron Hill beers.
Brian and I both enjoyed the Brewmaster’s Dinner. The food was very good (and local), and we were introduced to beers we might no have tried if it hadn’t been for the professional pairings done by the chef and the brewmaster. The company at the table was great, too. In fact, there are so few photos of the dinner in this post because we were enjoying the conversation of our table mates so much, that I forgot I was supposed to be photographing each course to show you all. Now that’s a great evening.
Iron Hill Maple Shade is located at
124 East Kings Highway (Route 41)
Maple Shade, New Jersey 08052
P: 856 273.0300
Disclosure: I was invited to bring a guest to the Farm to Table Brewmaster’s Dinner by a representative of Iron Hill. As guests of the restaurant, we did not pay for the dinner. I was not, however, paid for this post nor was a favorable post promised in return for the meal.