6PM on a Tuesday night Valanni's has a packed house, I think the folks of Philadelphia are looking for specialty events like this where the chef and the beer meister come to your table to talk to you about what you are about to eat and drink. The price $55, a bargain anyway you slice it. Update: at the end of the night I got the figures for the attendance. Two dinner seating's: 120 people, not including the bar area. www.valanni.com Here we find Sarah Cooper Bobersky and Matthew Vlahos listening intently to Wetten Importer Bruce Wright (in mirror) discuss the various beers that will accompany the dinner they will be eating.
lobster, scallop, Striped Bass seviche
Ancho chili, avocado, fresh mango, cilantro
Sarah doesn't like seafood, although that is a big whopping piece of lobster she is about to gobble. She enjoyed the Kasteel Triple and said it went well with the citrus flavor of the dish; Matt thought this was the best pairing of the night, and also enjoyed the citrus's beer. I don't drink so I will just be commenting on the food. HughE: Hmmm yum seafood and cuban bread.
It's a family affair as Jack, Mike & Mark Ferguson took their friend Joe Russen's (green shirt) advice and came out for Beer night. They like beer, as if the pairings weren't enough they also had a few bottles on the table. They are Irish after all, and if it's one thing we Irishman like, it's our beer.2nd Course
Brigand Golden Ale
poached egg, Frisee, Belgian endive, lardons, crispy potatoes, red wine vinaigrette, olive oil
Sarah: Terrific alone, terrific together. An explosion of flavors in your mouth; Matt: I'd like it for breakfast [I wasn't sure if he met the salad or beer] HughE: I really enjoyed the salad, especially the added touch of the pouched egg.
Thom Cardwell and Mary Patel; One of the first events of this kind I attended was a Thom's Table event at Mantra. (I covered it for PCC) He did a terrific job and I do hope he brings Thom's Table back. He hosts the event at different restaurants and does pairings and lectures. Really terrific. Mary just got back from LA where she is hammering out details on her latest movie. She also had lunch with Elliott Gould, very exciting, the guy who has a child with Barbra Steisand. OK and he is an actor in his own right.3rd Course
Tamarined-Ginger Glazed Pork Ribs
rutabaga puree, white asparagus
Sarah: Beer too sweet, even with pairing. Ribs were out of this world, the meat just fell off the bone; Matt: Beer alone too sweet, with ribs much better. Interesting, really enjoyed the rutabaga puree. HughE: Hmmm ribs love them. I picked them up even though the meat was falling off, ribs are meant to be man handled.
Now these guys are experts in the field of food, but they were at the 2nd sitting and I didn't stay long enough to ask their opinions. Maybe they'll leave a comment if they read my blog. They all work at the World Cafe Live. Lisa Margraff, F&B Director, Jameson O'Donnell, Cafe Chef, Ryan Starr, Manager and Matthew W. Babbage, Executive Chef. www.worldcafelive.com Ryan Walker and Adrienne Roth. Ryan lives in the neighborhood and saw the menu outside and thought this would be a good night to try out the neighborhood restaurant. They were both excited about the menu, and really enjoyed the beers. Well Adrienne also thought the Kasteel Rouge was too sweet, but again the guys liked it.
A lot of Irish folk here at Valanni's tonight. The Casey Family, L-r Dan, Ray, Nell and Ali, and next to her Ford Haegele. Enjoyed everything, Ali didn't have any lobster in her first dish, I think Sarah got her Crusteacian
St Louis Framboise
Bing cherry sorbet
Matt reacts to an explosion of Grand Marnier soaked cherries in his mouth, he didn't realize his fruit was pickled. (He'd like these for breakfast too, he said)
Donna and Lester Weinraub enjoy Lester's birthday gift from a friend who knows he appreciates a good beer. 5th Course
Gouden Carolus' Grand Cru of the Emperor
Grilled white mission
Figs, Rogue River Blue cheese, Grand Cru-port reduction
Sarah: Is full, isn't a fig fan, but when I tell her about the white chocolate hazelnut praline, suddenly gets her appetite back. Matt: Is a big Fig lover. HughE: Not so much, blue cheese with figs and chocolate, not the same as cheese in a canolli like I was imagining beforehand, but loves anything that has the word chocolate in it. M&S: Love the St Louis Framboise which was served with the last dish, but these two must be getting looped as they are two fisting their drinks by the last course. If you look you can see the next one waiting for them in the lower left hand corner.
Thanks to our hosts for the night Chef Evan Turney and Bruce Wright who put together the brilliant menu of Belgian beer and food pairings, Chris and the beautiful Jennifer, who was doing double duty because as you may know from my earlier postings, she hosts Kinky Quizzo every Tuesday night at Valanni at 11PM, 10:30PM in the fall. Valanni's next big event is the annual fashion show in October, and then a wine pairing dinner in December.
www.valanni.com 1229 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Tel: (215) 790-9494