Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Brooklyn Brew Shop's Book Release Event at Hands-On Gourmet

This last week was SF Beer Week and I was able to make it up North 3 different times to enjoy the spoils! Although labeled as such Beer Week isn't actually exclusive to San Francisco, events and specials were available all over the Peninsula which makes it possible for lots of people to appreciate the many beers brewed right here in the Bay Area.

I was browsing the San Francisco section of the Huffington Post when I found this particular event. They were highlighting 5 various things you could attend and this sounded right up my ally! A hands-on cooking event to be paired with beers provided by the Brooklyn Beer Shop to promote their new at home brewing cook book.

The menu was listed as thus:
Hands-on Menu and Beer paring:
Beer 1: Brooklyn Brew Shop's Bourbon Dubbel, paired with:
Moroccan sweet potato pastries
Ginger, cilantro, almonds and cinnamon
Barbeque Duck with Green Papaya Salad
Sonoma duck breast, soy, rice vinegar, and brown sugar
Thai basil, long beans, tamarind, lime and chopped peanuts
Beer 2: Shmaltz's Albino Python, paired with:
Grilled Lamb Kebabs
Mango chutney
Risotto and oven dried tomato croquettes
Marcona almond and cilantro pesto
Beer 3: Shmaltz's Messiah Nut Brown Ale, paired with:
Pumpkin ice cream, ginger snap cookies
Caramelized apples and salt
Vanilla bean ricotta, citrus and pistachios

How could I resist! A good friend's fiance has started home brewing some great beers and my friend loves to cook so I invited them right away (secretly hoping that if there were any fun sounding beer recipes in the book he could help me make them! and of course I just always enjoying doing things with them). We got a nice early start on the drive up so we wouldn't hit traffic in the rainy weather. Turned out we got a bit more time than we needed which left us with about half an hour to kill at a pub down the street called "The Goat". A former Nautical pub for sailors and shipyard workers the bar has been recently taken over by a gentleman with a taste for fine tequila's. With each of our beers he paired us a shot of boutique whiskey.... which none of us really needed but we enjoyed none the less! Finally the time came and we were off to cook and brew!

The event was being held at Hands On Gourmet's class kitchen in SOMA. A large brightly lit space with floor to ceiling windows and an initial industrial edge that was softened by the living wall decorations of small succulents. There were large tables with benches along the right side of the room where the Brewers had set up their demo and down the middle of the space were prep tables where chef's were working on the mise en place for the nights delights. We were greeted with our choice of the nights 3 featured beers and a lovely cheese display. Already fragrent aromas were wafting from the stoves. After most of the attendees had gathered (about 30 in all, the event had sold out) the brewers directed us to grab a seat and began their presentation on how to brew small batches of beer at home.
We listened intently for about 10 minutes, at which point they noted many of us had emptied our glasses and more than anything- they wanted people to drink! So they encouraged everyone to get up grab some more beer and if they were so inclined to start helping the Chef's with preparing the food. It seemed they didn't realize how many people would want to actually cook. The chef's had been instructed that most people would just be there to eat and drink however many were quickly asking what they could work on. I was lucky enough, thanks to Jesse who had come along as well, to grab a spot at the dessert station where I quickly began to bond with the chef and show that I was quite handy!
My first task was helping prepare the filling for the cannoli's, chopping up pistachios and some chocolate pieces and stirring them in with the ricotto, lemon & orange zest, sugar, & Vanilla. I have made cannoli filling from scratch previously so this was fun but not a new challenge. What I was really excited about was making the shells from scratch. Since our station would be the last to need to be finished I did find myself wandering away at the lulls to try some of the other dishes or watch some of the brewing demo.

Duck Prep
Duck Served over Papaya Slaw

Arancini & Lamb Kabab prep
Bastilla Prep

It was fun to watch everyone else working on the different dishes and I tried to pick up some new techniques along the way. I will definitely be trying the Bastilla and Arancini at Home!

Brewer's Brewing

Finished Aracini with Pesto
All of the food was really tasty however I wish they had been a little more direct or descriptive on which beers to pair with which dishes. They outlined it very briefly but didn't go in to detail on why they choose the recipes for those beers or vice versa, nor was it made simple to remember which went with which (some labeling or pouring by the staff could have been cool to get the full experience) None the less we loved the food and the beers.

After trying a few things I got right back to work with Chef Christine who I was working along side for the dessert. It turned out it was her first time making the cannoli shells as well but with a few trials and some ingenuity we found the perfect system.
The first step was to roll out the dough that had been prepared earlier with the pasta roller. Next we cut it in to rounds with a cookie cutter. We learned quickly that the metal dowels we were using to help them hold their shape while they fried needed to be floured to keep them from sticking.
Once we dropped them in the fryer they just took a few minutes to poof up and golden and I got to take turns making sure they crisped up evenly.
And here is our final product! A perfect two bite dessert! Everyone really enjoyed them and I enjoyed getting my hands "dirty" (OK covered in flour) and getting really involved in creating the final product. Christine was so pleased to work with me she sent us home with all the extra gingersnap cookies from the other dessert! (It pays to get involved :))
Me and my new buddy Chef Christine
Any chance to learn new techniques and put my cooking passion to work is another step closer to maybe one day making it my profession. This was over all a wonderfully fun event and a great way to kick off my beer week. I followed it up with Beer and Sausages a Rosamunde in the Mission Friday night and a huge beer festival at Trumer Pilsner Brewery in Berkeley on Sunday that I look forward to telling you all about!

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