Diners enjoy pairing of beer, gourmet food (video)
July 18, 2013 at 2:18 a.m.
Updated July 19, 2013 at 2:19 a.m.
Shiner beers of all shades flowed freely at the Victoria Country Club while servers poured out of the kitchen as if choreographed and rehearsed before service.
Country Club Executive Chef James Canter flexed his muscles Thursday night with a seven-course meal paired with seven of Spoetzl Brewery's best, from the mellow blonde to the hoppy pale ale.
The evening was set to amaze palates as well as raise money for the Boot Campaign, a Texas grassroots initiative formed by five women who set out to show support for troops, spread awareness and raise money for military programs.
A portion of the event's proceeds and charity auction will benefit the Boot Campaign.
"We're able to do this because of the people fighting in our name," said Canter, 41. "I have respect for all the people who are willing to throw down what they're doing to fight for this country."
And because Spoetzl is an area brewery, he was thrilled to build a menu to pair with its seasonal and trademark beers. After two months of tweaking and playing with flavor combinations, Canter and his crew of men dressed in black chef coats carefully set more than 60 plates for the guests sitting in the dining room.
Melissa Wilson sat next to her friend, Barbi Bridges, at a table in the corner, waiting to take in what the chef had prepared for them. No amateur to wine pairing, Wilson, 35, was interested in trying beer pairing for a change.
"I've never been to one of these," she said. "I'm open to trying everything."
The servers whirled around tables and chairs as they set the first course in front of the diners. On the plates: a small, cream-colored cube topped with a sliver of wet sea urchin sandwiched between a light pink powder and what appeared to be granola.
"I wanted to start with the slap-you-in-the-face dish then bring you back to Earth with the rest of it," Canter explained of the sea urchin cereal, homemade grape nuts and malt vinegar powder.
For some, it was delicious, and for others, it was the first time trying the soft, briny shellfish.
"It was interesting and different," said Bridges, 39.
As the chilled glasses were filled with cold beer and delivered to the diners, the plates came and went: a Texas watermelon gazpacho, quail breast terrine, chicken livers, ginger-vanilla poached gulf shrimp, roasted venison and eventually a spiced caramel carrot and buttermilk tart.
Mike Wuensche, 47, sat at the biggest table in the center of the room with his wife, Denise, 44. A dirty martini with a few olives speared with a toothpick sat in front of him, nearly untouched. The chilled beer glass had made a few rings next to his plate as he'd been pairing it with each course.
"The first two courses were different and unique," he said hinting to the urchin and interactive gazpacho that had diners pouring it into the bowl of homegrown tomatoes and sunflower seeds. "It's been a pleasure and a treat coupled with Shiner beer."
All the hard work and preparation Canter put into the dinner was paying off as empty plates came back to through the doors of the kitchen.
Meanwhile, the men in the kitchen operated an assembly line to fix the next course of plates.
"I wanted to showcase Shiner beers," said Canter.
After taking a look at the remaining courses, Bridges said she would not try the truffled chicken livers set for the fifth course, claiming it brought back childhood memories she didn't want to relive. Wilson, on the other hand, was embracing the dinner fully.
"It's all been wonderful," said Wilson.