NaBloPoMo Day 17: Near Wild Heaven

1395212_3536028375981_247268874_nNear Wild Heaven – one of my forever favorite R.E.M. songs (eclipsed only slightly by “Me in Honey,” however; both conveniently located within the same album).

Beer Wild Heaven – a fabulous craft brewery conveniently located in Decatur, Georgia.

This is the tale of our superlative beer dinner at the restaurant last week.

The foundation of this malty meal began over a year ago, when we sponsored a Sun Dial Booth at Corks and Forks, the food and booze tent of the Summer Shade Festival at Candler Park. My colleague, Cheryl and I were working the room, hustling shots of Chef’s watermelon gazpacho to the other vendors for drinks and snacks.

And then we stumbled into heaven.

wh4-blWild Heaven.

I would like to clarify that I am not a beer lover. Perhaps the occasional “canoe” beer by the pool or lake, or the rare treat of a frosty Abita Turbo Dog (a brew fetish born of sorority road trips to New Orleans.)

This beer was different. It was unique…fresh! Complex! Caramely-creamy with just a hint of coffee to cut the sweetness! Holy Sixpack, Batman!

My view on beer forever altered,
we ran back to our booth to share our treasure with Chef. A vision dawned that day…the glimmers of a dream to pair Jason’s farm-to-table cuisine with this nectar of the grain gods.

We discussed it so frequently over the next year, it was more than a done deal in our heads – we were actually trying to figure out when we could get it on the calendar.

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It occurred to us, around May, while working our table at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival and sharing with our plans for a Wild Heaven beer dinner with random strangers and media, we had neglected one crucial detail.

Actually discussing our plans with Wild Heaven.

Fortunately, they were participating at AFWF too, so a quick visit to their tent garnered a meeting with Sarah Young, their marketing guru and Nick Purdy, the founder.

We were on!

Over the next few months, Jason crafted a phenomenal menu based on the four selected beers, including a custom dessert to compliment a rare stout from brewer Eric Johnson’s personal stock.

Last Tuesday, we gathered for what (in my relatively extensive dining experience) was one of the best tasting and most creative pairing dinners I’ve had the privilege to enjoy.

Lump Crab Hush Puppies with Pickled Okra Tartar Sauce

1st Course: Lump Crab Hush Puppies with Pickled Okra Tartar Sauce with a pour of Ode de Mercy, Imperial Brown Ale

Southern BBQ Salad with Butter Greens, Spicy Shrimp, Picked Bacon, Radish, NC BBQ Vinaigrette

2nd Course: Southern BBQ Salad with Butter Greens, Spicy Shrimp, Picked Bacon, Radish, NC BBQ Vinaigrette served with Invocation, a Belgian-style Golden Ale

Entree: Suckling pig - Chops, Cheeks with Pimento Cheese Grits, Quadruple Ale Reduction and Chopped Peanuts served with Eschaton, a Belgian-style Quadruple Ale aged on Pinot Noir Oak Chips

Entree: Suckling pig – Chops, Cheeks with Pimento Cheese Grits, Quadruple Ale Reduction and Chopped Peanuts served with Eschaton, a Belgian-style Quadruple Ale aged on Pinot Noir Oak Chips

wh7-bl

Dessert: Chocolate Cremeux, Crushed Pretzel, Bourbon Caramel, Ode de Mercy Gelato

Surprise dessert pairing from Brewmeister Eric, a Chocolate Orange Stout.

Surprise dessert pairing from Brewmaster Eric Johnson – a Chocolate Orange Stout.

Truly a meal close to heaven.

Images courtesy of Drunk on Life

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