Idaho is often referred to as the "Potato State," but its growing brewery population is giving the state another notable item to hang its hat on - craft beer. At this weekend's Brewmaster's event at Cascade Resort in Vail, Brewmaster Rob Mullin from Grand Teton Brewing Company in Victor, Idaho, will treat guests to a diverse sampling of Idaho beers that inspired an equally eclectic lineup for Saturday's "Small Plates and Craft Beer" pairing.
Atwater Chef de Cuisine Stephen Belie described the menu development tasting for the Grand Teton weekend as "all over the place." Sometimes there's a theme that strikes the group for a particular set of beers or brewery. However, he said that the team literally "went wherever the beer took us" this round, which was a culinary adventure worthy of sharing.
Occasionally, there is a concept for a pairing that changes completely over the course of the brainstorming session, and Grand Teton's Sweetgrass American Pale Ale pairing did just that. Originally inspiring a barbecue direction, the flavor profile evolved and chefs created a hot smoked teriyaki salmon belly to balance the hoppy finish but stays light with a citrus salad, purple sticky rice and green garlic emulsion to reflect the style of the beer while providing an interesting Asian accent.
Hazelnuts were the focal point of the second course, evoked by Grand Teton's Bitch Creek Extra Special Brown Ale. Building around the hazelnut flavor and texture in an adventurous way, while playing with the semantics of the name of the brew and its flavor profile, the culinary team designed crispy veal sweetbreads with puttanesca sauce, hazelnut brown butter and Brussels sprout leaves.
Executive Chef Todd Bemis found that the Grand Teton Double Vision Doppelbock gave him visions of wild game, Colorado buffalo to be exact. The rustic, outdoor, campfire direction brought a baked cornbread skillet to the fore, incorporating the Colorado buffalo, scallions, tomato and aged cheddar to complete the picture.
The intensity of flavors in the Grand Teton Pursuit of Hoppiness Imperial Red Ale and the way they linger on the palate challenged the team to create an unusual balance for the final course, while twisting the dish toward dessert. This kind of off-the-beaten-path pairing is really where the Atwater chefs find their calling. A pretzel bread pudding with candied bacon, pretzel crunch and salted butterscotch finishes the experience with a sweet, salty, hoppy assault on the senses.