Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Two for the Show

Some quick notes from Sunday’s annual Brewer’s Plate festival in Philadelphia.

This is an affair that really underscores the inseparable tie between beer and food.

So if you weren’t one of the 1,000 people at the Reading Terminal Market savoring fine cheeses, seafoods, smoked meats and a some really kickin’ “beeramisu” at the third outing of this event, you’ll definitely want to put it on your calendar for next year.

Here’s why ...

The Brewer’s Plate (a fundraiser by nonprofit White Dog Community Enterprises) unites artisinal foods and dishes from some great Philly area restaurants with beers from craft brewers within a 150-mile radius of the city. Great food, great beer. Great expectations.

(This year, the festival featured 18 restaurants and 18 breweries, with each brewery and its two beers styles paired off with two different restaurants.)

But the event also makes a deeper statement about locally grown and produced food. And locally made beer. And that is, when you make those establishments your go-to purveyors, you create and nurture a community, not to mention giving an important boost to local economic development.

What’s that mantra about craft beers? Support your local brewery? Well, that’s part of what the Brewer’s Plate is saying.

And it’s one of the reasons we stepped across the Delaware to check out the pours from Jersey gems like Climax Brewing and Flying Fish and Triumph. (River Horse Brewing was also extended an invitation to the event but apparently could not make it.)

Some highlights of the Garden State at the event, a bit of what went on our plate and in our glass: Climax (Roselle Park) saw its very able ESB paired with a fantastic crab bisque from Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus, whose wonderfully spicy jambalaya was also matched up with the Farmhouse Summer Ale from Flying Fish (Cherry Hill). We’re big on spicy food, so this was a line we hit a few times more than we should admit.

(Climax’s Nut Brown Ale was paired with some excellent cured meats from London Grill. HopFish, the creamy IPA by Flying Fish, was served with pan-seared scallops from Patou.)

Triumph, which spans both sides of the Delaware, featured a dunkel larger (on tap at its New Hope, Pa., location) with pork loin and lentil pilaf from White Dog Cafe. (Triumph also poured its signature Bengal Gold IPA with a really tasty pulled pork sandwich.)

Great food and great beer always keep good company. Two for the show.

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