Thursday, December 31, 2009

Eastern Standard and Biere de Miel

A few nights ago, I treated myself to a lovely dinner at Eastern Standard here in Boston after a day at the movies.  I haven't been there in some time, and I happened to be in the neighborhood, so I figured I would stop in a have a bite to eat. As usual, the bar area was packed, so I chose a quieter table away from the crowd off to the side in a booth.  I'm glad to see that they are doing a fantastic bar business even on a Monday night!

Service was efficient and unobtrusive - just the style that I like.  I was allowed to read emails and surf the web on my iPhone while enjoying my meal without unnecessary interruption.  The food was terrific.  I have to give a special mention to the lobster and puff pastry appetizer that I had.  The lobster was perfectly cooked, tender, and sweet.  It sat in what I'm guessing was a reduction of cream and lobster stock.  If I were trying to recreate it at home, I'd be sure to use plenty of thyme and sherry, although I didn't ask for specifics regarding the ingredients.  There were also some lovely roasted parsnips and slices of shiitake mushrooms along with aforementioned puff pastry to soak up that delicious sauce.  I even did something I rarely do - used my bread to soak up the last bits of the sauce.  In fact, I might have licked the bowl clean if I wouldn't have felt embarrassed - it was that good!

The main course of cavatelli, carrots, and mushrooms was solid; brightly flavored with shallot, garlic, and lemon juice.  The pasta had a homemade texture and appearance and was satisfying to eat on a cold wintry night.  Dessert was nice too, butterscotch bread pudding.  I'm pretty happy with anything butterscotch and I've been a fan of Jeremy Sewall's since I first had it at Great Bay years ago. For those of you who don't know, he began consulting at Eastern Standard about a year ago.  I make the short trek over to his restaurant, Lineage in Coolidge Corner, a few times a year just to have a meal ending with the butterscotch pudding there.

The most interesting culinary experience from an education standpoint was a beer that I'd never tried before from Brasserie Dupont. I love their Saison beer for it's tart wine-like flavors, so seeing the familiar name was enough to make me want to try their Biere de Miel.  I ordered it to go with the butterscotch bread pudding thinking it would be a little sweet, but I was surprised and delighted to find quite a dry beer instead.  I decided to save it for after the dessert instead so as to be able to enjoy it without the dessert, which was making it seem overtly acidic in my opinion.

After some research, I discovered that honey is added to the beer and then bottled, like the process of dosage in Champagne.  The natural yeasts are also left in the bottle, and a magical second fermentation begins using the sugar in the honey.  The second fermentation accounts for its very frothy mousse and high alcohol, 8%.  The result is a seductively honey-scented beer with a dry, crisp taste.  I think this beer would be amazing with a cheese course or I would order it again as an aperitif to a big meal.  It came in a pint bottle, so I was left with quite a lot of beer and thanks to Boston's new "take-out" law, I have half of it to drink on another night.  Next time, hopefully I'll have a friend along with me to share it. Great wine and food always taste better with great company!

On my next visit, I'm hoping the lobster and Biere de Miel will still be available.  They are enough to make me want to return alone.  If you're headed there anytime soon, check them both out.  They are sure not to disappoint.

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