Welcome back, friends!
This weekend I was in Austin, TX for #BlogHerFood2016 so by the time you see this, I’ll probably be finally home after being up to eyeballs in swag and tacos. That said, today I’m taking a break in your regularly scheduled recipe post programming for another dinner event review! That’s right, folks, Atlanta’s Battle and Brew has done it again, this time taking us to Middle Earth for a Feast of Starlight.
Again, you say? This is the fourth time I’ve had the privilege to travel to other worlds through food, aided by Battle and Brew and Chef Ted Kupferman. The first time was to Westeros in their Game of Thrones Feast for Kings. The second time we whizzed through the floo network to Hogwarts for Christmas Dinner. Finally, not too long ago, they warped us to a galaxy far far away for their Star Wars Imperial Recruitment Dinner.
I was looking forward in particular to this dinner because it so happened to fall on August 22nd, my husband’s birthday. Also this time. I was able to drag my roommate Briana out for some Tolkien-esque noms. Food and drink are always more satisfying when enjoyed with the best of friends. So what do you get when a human, a dwarf, and an elf all go to a bar? This bizarre selfie, and this recap.
We arrived to find Battle and Brew taken over by ents, dwarves, and hobbits (oh my!). The dining room and game stations were nowhere to be found. Through the staff’s magic, ingenuity, and wibbly-wobbly dimensional travel, we were transported to a bar between a castle wall and a hobbit hole.
Our meal started off with an Amuse Bouche of Goat Cheese Stuffed and Tempura-Battered Strawberries drizzled with a Pedro Ximenez Balsamic Glaze, and served with an Aperol Spritz aperitif. This dish was a fun commentary on the Hobbitish habit of frying up practically anything.
More notable was how this course presented an overture to everything a Hobbit likes to eat — and that’s pretty much everything! Upon biting, the crunchy and light tempura coating gave way to sweet and smooth strawberry before mellowing out under a tart but creamy cheesiness. The accompanying drink balanced out the morsel with bitter orange.
Up next was Breakfast – a Mini-Mushroom and Spinach Omelette with a Bacon and Potato Cake, paired with Mystic Renaud Saison. Now I know for a fact that cooking the classic omelet is no easy task, but this one was executed to the letter: glossy with not a spot of browning. The button mushrooms and taters were earthy and satisfying, and the creamy hollandaise brought out some of the sweeter notes in the Saison.
The next course was also breakfast. Yes, I know. We already had one. But what about Second Breakfast? I ask myself this question every day and this course certainly answered it with a “Hobbit Hole” Egg in a Basket with Sausage Links and Duck Gravy. A Bloody Mary, complete with a celery-olive eye of Sauron, watched over our meal and seared our mouths with the blazing fires of Mount Doom.
Like Merry, Pippin, and Chef Teddy, I am also a fiend for mushrooms. This is why I’m going to espouse especially on our Elevensies course: Buckwheat Spaetzle with Pearl Onions and Shiitake Mushrooms served with Argus Cidery’s Tepache. This was a delightful combination of textures where nutty, handmade rustic pasta and meaty mushrooms joined in holy umami matrimony by garlic parmesan cream in a union as beautiful as the Gamgee-Cotton wedding. The Tepache was a dry pineapple cider with a very present salt note, which served as a sharp palate cleanser to cut through creaminess like the dawn through the skylights of a Hobbit Home.
Dinner then arrived with a plate Venison Cobbler and a generous pouring of Proemio Malbec. This dish of braised venison shoulder featured dark and forward flavors with cinnamon and star anise. Like an upscale version of venison stew, this was best enjoyed piled on top of the delicate yet savory layers of biscuit cobbler. The chef said this was his favorite pairing of the night. I have to agree. This bold and fruity wine was wonderfully buttery and tied this dish together into a good and hearty meal suitable for a Ranger on a long respite at the Prancing Pony.
“What’s taters, precious?” Came a voice from behind him…Gollum’s voice, that is, who then threw a flailing tantrum for a meal that was raw and wriggling.
The braising liquid, a blend of pinot noir and malbec, tenderized the meat nicely. The root vegetables were the real Evenstar of this dish, though. I don’t care what Gollum thinks, those taters and carrots were roasted, caramelized, and drop-dead-under-a-dozen-orc-ar
No visit to Middle Earth is complete without dessert, and Chef Teddy and his crew were more than happy to provide. Nestled among a plate of lemon lavender scones and sugar cookies was a bowl of Irish Bread Pudding made with chocolate stout, dried fruits, and topped with whiskey cream.
By this time I was ready to roll over like an overstuffed oliphant, but I managed to get a few well-savored bites in before washing it down with some cinnamon spiced coffee. Like the dying embers of the Green Dragon’s fireplace, this brew’s bourbon-Brazilian blend of smoke and chocolate acted as a fond farewell, with just a gentle jolt of energy enough to send us on home to our own Hobbit Holes.
I can say it is no easy task to feast like a Hobbit, but my word, it sure is a satisfying one! Once and over again I really encourage you, my readers, to keep an eye on Battle and Brew’s website for the next culinary fantasy adventure they have up their collective sleeve. As for me? I must really give my deepest thanks again to Chef Teddy and the staff for making this an experience so wonderful. It was, and still remains, a light for me in dark places when all other lights go out.