May the Fourth Be With You!
Much has happened since last week as you can probably already tell if you follow the blog. That’s right, folks, I’ve moved to self-hosting and a spankin’ new look! As you can also tell from the header, The Gluttonous Geek has joined The Daily Meal‘s Culinary Content Network.
So blog news aside, I do believe I’ve told ya’ll about Atlanta-based Battle and Brew and it’s drop dead deliciously amazing fandom themed dinners? If not, check out my recaps of their Game of Thrones-style “Feast for Kings”, and their little trip to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts for Christmas Dinner. I hope you’re ready for even more awesome because last week’s dinner took us through a galaxy far, far away!
The invitation arrived a few months ago, bearing the crest of the Galactic Empire. It said:
“Support the Empire! We all feel for those who bravely gave their lives for the Empire on the Death Star- but now more than ever we need you to help us win the fight. Join us at this recruitment dinner and see if joining the Empire is right for you.”
Being more of the cartwheel-on-the-line-till-it-hurts scoundrel type, I was suspicious. Join the Empire? I don’t know…I read on:
“We’ll have a coursed dinner representing many of the sectors you could be stationed at. You’ll be served by a wonderfully diverse multi-cultured staff here to show you the best of what the Empire has to offer. […] Rebels are welcome at this event as we feel you’ll have a change of heart after this inspiring evening.”
Being the mercenary I am, though, I couldn’t pass up a chance to travel the galaxy through food. I arrived with my husband, hoping his presence would distract the Imperials from noticing my resemblance to a certain smuggler had who had made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.
So under the promise that I maybe, possibly, would eventually think about joining the plastic-coated, can’t-shoot-the-broad-side-of-a-barn brigade, we entered to find the restaurant transformed. The gaming tables housed a miniature replica of the Ewok Village on Endor – our host explained this was a training map to strategize “a better attack on the furries”.
An ice sculpture of the Imperial Insignia glistened in front of a breathtaking view of the stars out the window. A Sith apprentice walked among the crowd, passing out our dossiers for the night, as well as commemorative pieces of Alderaan.
When we were finally seated to a lovely presentation of black linens and red roses, our hosts welcomed us and held a moment of silence for the fallen Darth Sidious and all the lost lives on the second Death Star.
Chef Teddy then treated us to our first course: an amuse bouche consisting of an arugula terrine, covered with a layer of minced tomato, topped with a carrot puree “yolk tartare” and finished with flakes of black maldon salt and carrot dust. Paired with this morsel was Lustau Los Arcos – a dry, Amontillado sherry that tamed the explosion of raw carrot, and sweetened to a nice balance with each sip.
I would have preferred just the slightest bit more salt to distinguish the flavors and cut through the very present tomato, but it was otherwise a very well-executed dish. This course set the tone for the night – a culinary, molecular gastronomic tour of the galaxy using modern techniques to experience each world that we would be stationed on as stormtroopers through flavor.
As recruits, the hosts further tested us on our ability to follow orders, telling us not to touch the plate of the next course until everyone was served. It was soon apparent why. Set before us next was a plate with dill creme fraiche, toast points, and at its center, a glass filled with smoke.
This dish, Chef Teddy explained, was inspired by the “scorching lava world” of Mustafar located in the Outer Rim Territories. Lifting the glass released an eruption of applewood smoke, revealing a portion of sashimi-grade salmon.
This seemingly light dish was anything but light in taste. The fish took to the smoke like it would to water– shifting and melting on the tongue with the creme fraiche before giving way to the crunch of toast. Paired with Struise Imperialist Lager, this course was utterly genius and delightful.
The next course gave us a mouthful of Bespin, literally. Inspired by this swirling gas giant and the grandeur of Cloud City, Chef Teddy whipped up a coconut and lemon thyme foam and set it afloat on the plate with heirloom carrots, edible flowers, and rose crystals.
Paired with it was Freigeist Gesterzug’s Quince Gose, a sour and funky brew featuring quince and rhubarb that brought out the more subtle notes of lemon and rose in the foam. This is not was not just food, this was the Chef letting us taste the atmosphere above Cloud City.
Our food tour to the aquatic Kamino, homeworld to the Empire’s clone army, was no less delicious. The fourth course was a generous helping of gulf oysters in a sauce of champagne, cuvee, and parsley oil — garnished with a micro herb pesto and edible flowers.
The Argus Cidery’s Malus Cuvee paired with it was one of my favorite drinks of the night, being a very fruit-forward apple wine — dry, warm and yet crisp. Together with the oysters, they created a sharp flavor profile reminiscent of the ozone before a storm at sea.
The next course brought us to the planet of Naboo with a plate of sashimi-grade tuna, cured with alder wood-smoked sea salt, and served in an ice dome with a micro-chard mix, candied wasabi, and basil oil on top of lemon snow. Following suit with the planet’s Asian cultural similarities, this dish was paired with Baird’s Wabi-Sabi JPA.
This combination and presentation were an eternal spring of developing flavors. The bright spiciness of the beer and candied wasabi sparkled with the dish’s herbal and floral notes, transporting one to Theed’s regal gardens with each bite.
Eternal Spring then turned to eternal winter with the next course as we went to the ice planet of Hoth. To warm us to the prospect of spending our days somewhere colder than George Lucas’s regard for the Star Wars Holiday Special, the Chef presented us with a bowl of white bean cassoulet, topped with slabs of braised lamb belly.
The lamb, cured for four days with fresh herbs, paired beautifully with the dark and rich toasted spice and blackberry of the accompanying Shatter 2012 Grenache. This smoked and hearty, yet also elevated version of bacon and beans is enough to keep you going after your tauntaun gets ripped apart by wampas any day.
From tundra to swamp, the next course had us delightfully slogging through Dagobah. Inspired by Jedi Master Yoda‘s stew, the Chef made up a Veal Osso Bucco with braised kale, pearl onions,and pot liquor. “If Dagobah was as strong in food as it is with the force,” our host explained, “Yoda would still be alive.”
I don’t know about that, but this bowl of perfectly tender veal is more balanced than a jedi apprentice doing a one-armed handstand with a muppet standing on his foot. The kale was the real defining feature of this dish, holding and complementing the broth while bringing it all together — especially with a whale of a beer pairing in sour and hoppy The Monarchy Methusalem.
The meat, braised in whole milk with shallots and garlic, was phenomenal with the baby turnips and beets. Presented farmhouse-style as a shared plate, savoring this dish was like having that favorite meal your mother makes to remind you of home.
To wash these adopted memories down, we were also given a pre-dessert Bantha Milk Cocktail, tasting of almonds, orange, and white chocolate.
The last course finished us off with not one, but FOUR desserts. First was a white chocolate Death Star…
Containing a white chocolate X-Wing on a brownie with caramel sauce…
A pumpkin Sarlacc bundt cake…
And sugar cookies. All of which we had Deathwish Coffee and chocolaty schwarzbier Dark Helmet to swallow it all down.
All in all, I would say that Battle and Brew and Chef Ted Kupferman have succeeded in their mission. The level of thought, analysis, and imagination that went into each course is beyond anything I’ve seen so far in fan-themed food…EVER. There was not a single dish I did not enjoy or felt lukewarm about. The choice in using molecular gastronomic techniques was perfect for the subject matter, and staggering the heaviness of the courses gave everyone a chance to try every dish without forcing another bite.
I heard the Dark Side had cookies, but no one told me about the catering! Congrats you crazy kids, you’ve made an Imperial out of me. See you at May the 4th Star Wars Trivia tonight. You’ll never find my lack of faith disturbing ever again!