Alex and I did something pretty ridiculous last night: we went to Crystal Mountain for dinner. The two and a half hour drive and sleeping in my Honda Accord in the snow was totally worth it. It started at the base of the Mt. Rainier Gondola where we were served New Belgium Fat Tire in a can with a paper cup-full of warm hazelnuts.
I forgot to grab my camera, so here are some pictures I stole from the internet:
The view was stunning, it seemed like we could just reach out and touch Mt. Rainier. We got off the gondola and were escorted into the high-class Summit House with our cans of beer. There's nothing quite like walking into a fancy restaurant with a can of beer! The self-proclaimed Beer Guru's of Elysian and New Belgium introduced the meal and the chef saying that the meal was based on an "Old World Winter" theme and most of the dishes were the product of late night snacks. This was easily one of the best dinners I've ever had - it was everything I love about food: locally sourced with plenty of fat and pork products and paired with beer! Though they did warn us at the beginning that we were sitting at about 7,000 feet and none of the beers they brought were below 8% ABV. It was a trip to say the least! Here's what we had:
Dark and Rich Demi-Glace Broth with Roasted Chestnuts and Bourbon Scented Cippolini Onions.
Paired with New Belgium La Terroir.
-This was one of those dishes so simple and so exquisitely incredible that both Alex and I were speechless for a minute. The La Terroir was a sour ale unlike any sour ale I've had before - it reminded me of my dad's oranges from his tree that doesn't get much sun, so they're incredibly sour. The sour of the beer juxtaposed the richness of the demi-glace perfectly (something I never would have imagined!). Also, demi-glace served essentially as a soup?!? Amazing!
Spicy Berkshire Pork Belly with Buckwheat Blini and Mt. Townsend Seastack Cheese.
Paired with Elysian Bete Blanche Tripel.
-It's impossible for me to choose a single favorite food, but as far as cheese goes, I think this Seastack cheese is the perfect cheese. The Pork Belly and the cheese both seemed to melt right at body temperature, but then the adorable little buckwheat pancake was there for a bit of texture and the Tripel just rounded out the whole course.
It was at this point that someone noticed the full moon had risen. As word spread throughout the dinning room - everyone got up and ran outside to watch the moon rise over Mt. Rainier. So magical!
Grilled Winter Root Vegetable Salad with Arugula, Bacon Pastry Tart, and Petite Basque Cheese.
Paired with Elysian Bete Noel.
-More melted cheese on pork, brilliant. The arugula was particularly flavorful also. The Bete Noel is a dark beer which provided a real contrast between this course and the previous one.
Hubbard Squash Fried Grits with Poached Farm Egg, Benton Country Ham, and Oregon White Truffles.
Paired with Elysian The Wise ESB.
-Breakfast for dinner! The ESB was a surprising complement to the food - just hoppy enough to add a little spice, but not too hoppy.
Cattail Creek Lamb Tenderloin with Potato & Goat Cheese Souffle, Squash Ribbons, and a Sugo & Cherry Reduction.
Paired with New Belgium Transatlantique Kriek.
-Another course that left us speechless, in particular, the beer. This beer is a true lambic blended with lager. It started our in oak barrels in Lembeek, Belgium, fermenting naturally with Polish cherries. New Belgium Brewery bought the lambic after it had been aged for over 2 years and blended it with a full-bodied golden lager. Incredible. Oh and it sang in concert with the food it was served with.
Gingerbread Pudding with Ice Wine Poached Pears and Toffee Sauce.
Paired with Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale.
-I've never heard of anyone cooking with ice wine before this, but I totally support it. Those pears were amazing. A perfect ending to an incredible meal!
The kitchen received a standing ovation from the entire dining room. Absolutely phenomenal.