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Friday, November 18, 2011

Community Tap and Table :: Bacon and Beer Class {November 16, 2011}

Community Tap and Table :: For Beer Bellies with a Cooking Problem
Community Tap and Table is a hub for gourmet food and beer food pairing education in Sacramento, Lodi, Stockton and the greater California Central Valley.
Come on in, grab a Session, sit by the fire and get comfortable... it's going to be a long night!

On Wednesday night, Jim and I had the most amazing food and beer experience.  And we owe it all to Community Tap and Table, a gourmet cooking and craft beer club based in Sacramento, California, serving Sacramento, Stockton and Lodi (and the spaces between).  This is the most awesome club to ever come into existence!

We attended the Bacon and Craft Brews class, a hands on, full contact bacon-frying, beer-drinking extravaganza.  This 8-student class teaches how to properly cure and smoke pork belly into savory bacon.  The pork belly they use is local, antibiotic free and humanely raised.  Community Tap & Table sources as many local ingredients as possible.

The cooking class portion of the evening was completely hands on.  Each guest volunteered for a cooking station, and off we went with recipes and amazing ingredients in hand.  I have to say, this was a blast!  Jim and I didn't know any of the other students, but we had a great time with all of them just the same.  Banter flew, bacon fried, beer flowed.  Bliss.

When the cooking was complete, the students came together at the dining room table, and our hosts did a guided beer pairing......

The Delicious Menu
Fried Green Tomatoes with Clove and Lemon Aioli :: Paired with Trumer Pils
Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Biscuits with Butternut Squash Gravy :: Paired with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat
Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Sauteed Onion Brussels Sprouts :: Paired with Full Sail IPA
Quince Cobbler topped with Candied Bacon :: Paired with Dogfish Head Pangaea

Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine is.  This was one of the best meals I have ever had in my life.  And I like to eat.  A lot.  I have the belly to prove it.

The key to proper food and beer pairing is having both food and beer in your mouth at the same time.  I know, that sounds weird.  But trust me, after this experience I am fully a believer.

The clove and lemon aioli tasted like the holidays, adding a lovely refreshing-spicy tang to the fried green tomatoes.  The lemony flavors of the Trumer Pils were very complementary to the aioli, and the carbonation made the clove feel even more spicy and prickly on my tongue (in a very pleasant way).  Very nice.

The thought of the sweet butternut squash gravy on those savory biscuits is seriously almost too much for my empty stomach to handle.  I am tempted to quit writing, head straight to the market for ingredients, and whip up a batch right now.  Adding a swig of the Cherry Wheat into the mix was damn near orgasmic.  I have to seriously applaud Darin for this pairing.

The macaroni and cheese was very tasty, especially with the addition of the sweet and spicy red pepper sauce.  But the Brussels sprouts were the ones to shine in this course. Never before have Brussels sprouts tasted so friendly and pleasant.  There was no hint of the typical bitter flavor that turns most people away.  Bacon makes everything better, even Brussels sprouts.  The citrus-hoppy Full Sail IPA was a lovely complement.

Candied bacon is probably my new favorite thing, especially on top of cobbler.  I hadn't had quince before, but it is very similar to pear, just a little more spongy and firm.  The word delicious doesn't even begin to describe this beautiful symphony of flavors.  Tempting toothsome treat.  There, that works.  Pangaea's sweet and spicy ginger flavors added a nice dimension, but I preferred subsequent bites without it; however, it was a nice palate cleanser between sweet, savory bites of cobbler and bacon.

Aren't you jealous that you weren't there?  Well, check out the Community Tap & Table event calendar and get your awesome gourmet food and craft beer experience scheduled!  Their offerings are not limited to bacon and beer (you mean there's more to life than that?).  They offer seasonal classes, brewery tours, private parties, personal chef services, and more.

Emily and Darin host most events at their home in Sacramento, a spacious, inviting and beautiful home perfect for entertaining and educating. Emily is a food maven with impeccable taste. Darin is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. Together they are a perfect storm of food and beer deliciousness.

All proceeds from Bacon and Craft Brews classes benefit the UC Davis College of Brewing.

And now... the photos!  I do have to apologize for the photo quality - I brought my compact camera instead of my SLR... oh well, I'll just have to take another class so I can get better photos!

We learned how to season, cure and smoke pork belly to make our own bacon. 

Choose your own apron!

Jim was in charge of frying bacon for my biscuits, making the butternut squash gravy, and making fried green tomatoes!

I was in charge of making the bacon, cheddar and chive biscuits.
Don't mind the missing one... it, um, fell in my belly.

Fried green tomatoes, with clove & lemon aioli.  Paired with Trumer Pils.
(sorry for the weird camera quality... overexposed and washed out, bah!)

Bacon, cheddar and chive biscuits with butternut squash gravy.
Paired with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.

Bacon macaroni and cheese with red pepper sauce.
Paired with Full Sail IPA.

Brussels sprouts with onion and bacon.
See, bacon really DOES make everything better!

And the coup de grace... Quince cobbler with candied bacon!  Pure heaven.

Cobbler was paired with Dogfish Head Pangaea.

The Bacon and Craft Brew class of 11/16/11!

And our lovely hosts, Darin and Em.

The beers.


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