WESTFIELD, NJ — French restaurant Amuse and CoolVines team up regularly to create wine-pairing and beer-pairing dinners. But Thursday night’s event, Farmhouse-to-Table, was something wholly unique.
Veronica Kalas, beer manager at CoolVines, paired craft farmhouse-style ales, called Saisons, with four different dishes by Chef C.J. Reycraft, varying the type of beverage only at the end with a wine-like cider to match a dessert of apple crisp.
While beer pairings are becoming increasingly popular, they usually include several styles. So why use only farmhouse ales? Much like individual styles of wine, individual styles of beer vary, CoolVines Westfield manager Chris LoBrace explained.
“You think, ‘I’ve had one Saison, I know what that’s going to taste like.’ But there’s a whole diverse range,” LoBrace said. “I’m super-proud of this because I don’t think anything like it has been done in this town.”
According to LoBrace, everything about the event came from its name, which the two businesses came up with together. Based on the “farmhouse” concept, Reycraft went into the kitchen to create the dishes, and Kalas paired them with Saisons.
The result? A Saison that pairs with scallops (Brooklyn Sorachi Ace), another one that stands up to a braised pork shank (Boulevard Tank 7) and another that manages to match mushroom and andouiile feuilete (Brasserie Saison Dupont — considered to be the benchmark of the style).
A single-bite amuse bouche (French for “amusement for the mouth”) of date, blue cheese, bacon and chive oil paired with Allagash Saison signaled the beginning of the meal.
“It’s very good and it actually goes really nice with the beer,” diner Brett Malak commented.
Diner Heather Simpson bit into a sea scallop, which was served with butternut squash puree, baby kale, capers, golden raisins, almonds and brown butter.
“These are whipped so smooth,” Simpson said of the squash. Trying the Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, she said, “I think it goes so well. This is an interesting choice. It’s definitely different than the others — the flavor notes are different.”
As she poured, Kalas told the stories behind each beer, such as the happy accident that led to Boulevard Tank 7.
Customers including Malak said they would definitely like to attend an event like this again.
“It was another successful event between Amuse and CoolVines,” Reycraft said. “We look forward to the next one.”
The businesses will work together again on Jan. 13 for “Rhone on the Range,” a pairing of hearty foods of the winter season and the rich wines of France’s Rhone Valley. Tickets will be available at CoolVines, 127 Central Ave. in Westfield.
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