My goodness, they’ve done it again!
This will probably by my third time reporting on Atlanta’s premier bastion of culinary and boozy geekery, Battle and Brew and it will certainly not be the last. I’ve reviewed their 2015 Autumn menu, recapped their made-of-awesome Game of Throne’s themed dinner, and today I will be recapping their Harry Potter inspired Hogwarts Christmas Feast.
I will be honest. I was not expecting to be able to attend as the event attracted over 3000 people to their Facebook event page, and managed to sell out not once, but twice as the interest alone prompted another night due to demand alone and the growing wait list. Luckily my good friend Severus Snape (aka: Sketch MacQuinor of Squidbillies and Hysteria Machines fame) invited me as his plus one for the night of December 28, 2015. As an alumni member of House Wafflecakes, I simply could not turn down the offer to stuff my face with magical goodies at the TEN COURSE meal.
You’ve never heard of Wafflecakes, you say? JK Rowling left us out because we were too busy pigging out at the Sorting dinner to get in line…the hat yelled our house at us from across the room. We live in the kitchens. Damn Syltherins keep walking though and stealing snacks from our buffet line on the way to terrify the Hufflepuffs with enchanted, hole-ridden bed-sheets. Our alumni also boasts of great figures such as Bertie Botts and Madame Rosemerta. That’s right, a Wafflecake invented the gorram Chocolate Frog! You’re welcome. I digress, however.
I arrived promptly outside of Battle and Brew under the cover of torrential rainstorms to find a whole variety of witches and wizards lined up outside the establishment, no Professor Snape to be found. Quidditch players, Hogwarts and Beauxbatons students and alumni, famous figures, even magical folk in muggle disguises waited to gain entry. I discovered then that we were all to be transported by the floo network to Hogwarts. With a few words, wave of the wand, and flashing of green light, we were off through the fireplace face to face with a dark haired, pale-faced man with a wand.
“Welcome to Hogwarts” He said, his deep voice crooning over the stack of books before him, “I am your Potions Master, Kylo Ren.” Professor Ren-totally-not-Snape then informed us that through some error in the Owl Post, our invitations had not reached us and they had them available now.
We were then seated in the grand hall where banners in the house colors (except mine, grumble grumble) hung from the walls and candles floated among lit Edison bulbs. It’s nice to see the school updating its technology. Wizarding has come a long way since I attended.
A unique, handcrafted wand lay on each place setting as a gift to the attendees. I opened the invitation to find it was actually a parchment paper menu with the descriptions of each of course. I could tell we were all in for a treat.
First course was a ball of chicken liver pate coated with a cherry gelee, served with port wine-veined cheese and grilled toast points. The gelee itself was a sharp bite that soon gave away to the smooth, flavorful chicken liver underneath. The earthiness of the cheese brought out the apparent sweetness in the gelee and blended nicely. Together with Battle and Brew’s “Pumpkin Juice” – a refreshing, house-made cocktail tasting of pumpkin pie with mellow hints of fruit – this course was reminiscent of the homey gardens of the Weaselys’ homestead. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough toast to sop up such a generous portion!
Course two was a plate of “Toad in a Hole”, the perfect helping of classic English breakfast-for-dinner: brioche toast, cut with a biscuit cutter and filled with a fried egg, paired with sausage links. To wash it all down, we were given a flagon of Delirium Noel, a Belgian strong ale brewed with holiday spices. The beer’s rich, dark flavor paired well with the savory sausage, and worked to meld with the creamy egg yolk to marry the hearty notes of this dish.
The next dish was a meat and cheese plate, served up with a healthy sized dram of Firewhiskey. Mad Eye Moody was kind enough to pass on the recipe for this sinus-clearing spirit to the proprietors of Battle and Brew before passing, and it is certainly aptly named. With a burn as savage as dragons’ breath, the whiskey gets its fire from anaheim and chipotle peppers, and its bite from cocoa nibs. That said, it was still intriguingly sweet. The plate itself held a mix of capicola, prosciutto, smoked gouda, humbolt fog cheese, and peach jam. All was nothing less than delicious, but the cheeses certainly added an interesting point to this dish – the gouda playing up to the smokiness of the whiskey’s chipotle, and the humbolt fog tempering and smoothing its flame into something benign and magical.
Course four was a re-imagining of the traditional meat pie – seasoned ground beef with carrots and peas wrapped in empanada dough and served in a rustic tomato sauce – paired with Sweetwater Brewery’s “Festive” ale. I can see where the kitchens sought a unique take on the traditional pasty, but I do not feel as if the crust was the right choice. The filling was dark and delicious, but all its moisture seeped into the dough and made it heavy – a strong contrast from the traditional, flaky shortcrust or puff pastry I’m used to. While not my favorite, my dinner companions scarfed the pies down with delight. The beer, toasty and spiced with mace, went very well with this course.
Next course was a roll stuffed with a shredded chicken and potato “soup”, topped with crispy leeks and parsley oil. While the filling was good, I feel that such a small portion would either be better served in a cup as a stand-alone soup, or with the roll softened as an amuse-bouche. The only reason why I say this is when the bread soaks up all the moisture and the crust is so hard to bite into, it doesn’t really serve as either kind of dish.
Followed this was a course of pan-seared duck breast with roasted baby carrots and white turnips. To tempt our sweet tooth, this was paired with house-made butterbeer – a concoction mostly definitely not for First Years, consisting of vanilla vodka, butterscotch schnapps, whipped cream, and marshmallow fluff.
For the seventh course, we were served a rich terrine of rabbit, braised, shredded, and breaded – accompanied with a fermented black garlic aioli. To go along with this morsel of umami goodness, the libations continued with Anchor Brewing Company’s “Merry Christmas Happy New Year” – which bitterness balances with the terrine’s tangy mustard and sweet shallots.
Course eight did not hold back on decadence by delivering a roasted leg of lamb with dill cream sauce and a side of sweet potato soufflé. The meat itself was well seasoned and went nicely with the sauce. I feel there may have been a bit of a disconnect since the menu actually indicated there being a mint jelly instead of the cream. This would probably explain the questionable pairing with the soufflé. While both dishes were delicious, they did not pair all that well.
At this point the gluttony had taken its toll – I, ready to roll out of my chair from being fuller than the room of requirement during O.W.L.s week, and my date drawling over what was left of his Firewhisky.
The ninth course arrived then, and honestly it was the most delicious thing I’ve eaten all night. First, a cup of loose-leaf earl grey a la crème – which was wonderfully fragrant and floral, delicate with warming bergamot. This was a lovely complement to this real star of a course: an oven-roasted side of halibut with confit fennel and kalamata olives. This dish took me back to my visit of the Scottish coast with its combination of light, briny flavors and orange butter sauce.
While the previous course was enough to make my mouth happy for the rest of the evening, Chef Ted Kupferman and his staff certainly outdid themselves with the tenth and final course: Dessert. They served not one, not two, but TEN confections of magical flavor. Piled high and wheeled out on trolleys, we were given options such as house scarf sugar cookies, Harry’s Birthday Cakes, golden snitch cakes, chocolate frogs filled with almond brittle, and fried pumpkin pie.
The snitches were delightful, bites of rich red velvet cake coated in white chocolate candy, and the birthday cake was insanely moist and frackin’ delicious. Those were the only treats I had room left for in this whimsical, over-the-top, and wonderful meal. The glass of Terrapin Wake n’ Bake was the perfect way to finish it off like a strong cup of spiced coffee.
Once again, I cannot stress enough how much fun this event was. Major props to Battle and Brew in throwing together yet another fandom-inspired menu and experience, and also letting us all be a part of it. This evening was nothing short of enchanted, and I remain ever so hungry to see what they will come up with next.