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REAPing Benefits with Furthermore and Food Fight

September 27, 2010

One the many commandments we follow is never to turn our backs on the pairing of excellent food with outstanding beer. Add to that locally sourced ingredients, dinner in a dynamic location and the opportunity to support of a worthy cause and you just may have one of the season’s defining dining moments.

Sunday afternoon saw roughly 70 of us sampling five courses produced by Chefs Matt Pace from Monty’s Blue Plate Diner and Tim Larsen from The Cooper’s Tavern—both Food Fight restaurants. The courses were paired with five beers from Spring Green-based Furthermore, one of Wisconsin’s most compelling microbreweries.

The dinner capped The Farm Stop & Barley Pop Tour, a fundraiser for REAP Food Group. The REAP acronym stands for Research, Education, Action and Policy and the organization seeks to develop a sustainable, healthy local food network in Wisconsin. Stops prior to the dinner included Black Earth Meats, which sells locally and organically produced meats, and Otter Creek Farms, one of the growing number of organic agricultural enterprises. Just prior to the dinner, held under a large tent on the Taliesin Visitor Center grounds near Spring Green, Furthermore co-owner Chris Staples exercised some long-unused muscles as a former Taliesin guide and treated us to a walking tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homestead. By the time we finished traversing the length of the 600-acre Taliesin campus, we were ready to eat.

Furthermore’s Proper Ale, which Staples described as their “lawnmower beer and gateway drug for Miller drinkers,” accompanied the first course of Cooper’s Tavern homemade pretzels served with whole grain mustard and Otter Creek summer cheddar biscuits with Sassy Cow honey butter. The former were crisp and salty, the latter sweet and flaky, matching well with a beer that was, dare we say, the proper choice.

The second course, Burr Oak Gardens roasted butternut squash soup served with fresh crimini mushrooms, crème fraiche and sage appeared alongside Furthermore’s Knot Stock, one of brewer Aran Madden’s more original creations. The soup had a spark of spice to it, which offset the sweet, viscous creaminess and echoed the black pepper with which Knot Stock is brewed. The unlikely combination worked better than might have at first been expected.

Burr Oak Gardens made a second appearance along with Loki Farms during the third course, salad with duck served two ways. Duck leg confit was served with fresh lettuces, slices of Pink Pearl apples and French breakfast radishes, blue cheese, pistachio nuts and duck prosciutto topped with truffle vinaigrette. The dark duck meat provided the defining connection amid the market basketful of ingredients with Furthermore’s Three Feet Deep, made with peat-smoked barley imported from the United Kingdom. The smoky beverage, although certainly not a German rauchbier (smoked beer), is strongly flavored, adding both foundation and dimension to the dish.

“This is the beer with the smallest natural audience,” Staples joked. We count ourselves among that audience and are happy to take anyone else’s share.

By far, the best course was the Black Earth Meats’ Berkshire pork braised in Furthemore’s Fallen Apple beer, a blend of brown ale and freshly pressed cider from Kickapoo Valley orchards. The fork-tender pork medallions were served family style with skin-on mashed potatoes, cioppolini onions and roasted whole carrots and kale in a bacon apple cider reduction sauce. The rich autumn flavors were perfectly complement by the Fallen Apple, an impressively balanced fruit beer.

Our final course was a tart apple crisp served with Sassy Cow vanilla ice cream and a beer caramel sauce paired with Furthermore’s Oscura, a Mexican-style lager blended with roasted coffee from Nicaragua’s La Fem, a women-owned coffee growers’ cooperative. The food and beverage were a natural pair, once again showcasing the sweet-and-sour nature of the dessert versus the drink. Like the previous courses, the unlikely combinations led to perfect marriages of content and flavor.

This is going to be a hard dinner to top.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy Adrianson permalink
    September 27, 2010 11:31 pm

    Yummm! I’m reliving it all again. Thanks to your wonderful review, my taste memory has been enhanced. Thanks.

    • Mike and Jean permalink*
      October 1, 2010 2:12 pm

      Hi Judy:

      Thanks for the comments. I am glad you enjoyed the blog. We enjoyed meeting you and Tim and I hope you two continue to find interesting things to do in Madison.

      Mike and Jean

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