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/// MUSHROOM & BEER DINNER 2015
 
Wild Mushroom & Beer Dinner 2015
Fungal Delights at the 8th Annual Event
 
The eighth annual Mushroom and Beer Dinner was held Friday, November 6, at the historic Little River Inn near Mendocino, Calif. This is becoming the signature event for the Mendocino County Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival, which ran from November 6 to 15, 2015. The prix fixe dinner was $95 per person and proved to be an exceptional value.

Mendocino County is gifted with more than 3,000 mushroom varieties, including the rare candy cap mushroom, with its intense maple syrup flavor and sweet fragrance, which grows only along the northern coast of California. With multiple mushroom dinners, wine- and beer-pairing workshops, cooking classes, musical performances, exhibits and guided mushroom foraging, a wealth of fungal treasures is celebrated throughout the county.

For the past eight years, Little River Inn’s executive chef, Marc Dym, has created a multicourse dinner featuring the fabulous fungal treasures of the area.
For the past eight years, Little River Inn’s executive chef, Marc Dym, has created a multicourse dinner featuring the fabulous fungal treasures of the area. Each course is paired with beers from Russian River Brewing Company’s brewmaster, Vinnie Cilurzo, along with a featured custom beer from nearby Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Fal Allen. This popular event sells out annually, so early reservations are a must.

Chef Dym began this year’s fantastic fungal tour with a passed appetizer of Mushroom Cappuccino served with Russian River’s Redemption Blonde “Single” Ale (4.8%). This intensely rich cup of mushroom wonderfulness was concocted by chopping up all the odds and ends of the mushrooms used in the rest of the dinner and serving them duxelle-style.

The first course of Halibut Crudo, a sashimi served with pickled enoki mushrooms and shaved fennel and avocado, was amazingly flavorful and paired nicely with the stunning Russian River STS Pils (5.3%). If you have not had this beer, you need to Czech it out.

The second course was an intensely rich Golden Chanterelle Pot Pie with chestnuts and scallops, served with an AVBC farmhouse ale made with candy cap mushrooms. The unique beer proved to be a perfect foil for the upscale pot pie.

The next course was an entrée unto itself: Crispy Chicken on a Dauenhauer-infused Hoppy Waffle with trumpet mushroom pan gravy, paired with Russian River’s Duvel-ish delight, Damnation Strong Golden Ale (7.75%). The Sonoma Pride Dauenhauer (6%) is a second label for Russian River, named for the man who invented the first mechanical hop harvester in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Each course is paired with beers from Russian River Brewing Company along with a featured custom beer from Anderson Valley Brewing Company.
The fourth course of Mizuna (Japanese mustard greens), Pomegranate & Persimmon with alba mushrooms and pepita brittle was as exotic as it was unusual, allowing Chef Dym to touch some culinary high notes. This contrasted nicely with Natalie Cilurzo’s charitable contribution of a pink beer called Framboise for a Cure (6.5%) to raise money for the fight against breast cancer.

The pièce de résistance proved to be the fabulous entrée of Porcini Crusted Prime Kobe Beef Flat Iron Steak with roasted porcini and broccolini that was melt-in-your-mouth wonderful and served in overtly generous portions. The Russian River Consecration, a dark ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with currants (10%), was equally amazing.

Dessert sounded ordinary but proved to be anything but. The Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake with pecan, ginger and candy cap cider syrup was rich and flavorful and contrasted beautifully with the legendary Pliny the Elder double IPA (8%).

It is no wonder that people tend to return year after year to occupy their same seats to see what Chef Dym, Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, and Fal Allen have up their creative sleeves. Make your reservations now for the next Mushroom and Beer Dinner, to be held November 2016 on the beautiful Mendocino coast. I hope to see you there.


Fal Allen presenting the Anderson Valley Farmhouse Ale with Candycap Mushrooms


Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo presenting Russian River beers at the Mushroom Dinner


Mizuna, Pomegranate & Presimmon with Framboise for a Cure from Russian River
 

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