28 February 2008

First Annual Craft Beer and Fine Food Symposium | Jim's Notes

I am far from a gourmand. In fact, I'm not much of a carnivore. This is not to say that I never eat or even dislike meat. Rather, I find that as I grow older, my stomach simply doesn't take to meat all that well. I'm a once a day meat eater at most, and some days, I don't eat any meat at all. Add to this the fact that I became lactose intolerant upon turning 40 and, well . . . you have all the gory details of my digestive tract.

As a consequence, I approached the First Annual Craft Beer and Fine Food Symposium at L'explorateur with some trepidation. Fortunately, the experience surpassed my expectations a thousandfold. Chef Neal Brown's down-to-earth hospitality, along with his ingenious culinary creations and Ted Miller's assistance with beer selection, set my stomach and mind at ease. In fact, Neal's five-course meal and Ted's beer choices were so mind-blowingly delicious that it was difficult for me to pick a favorite course. After a bit of deliberation, I decided on the pairing of Broad Ripple Brewpub's Ankle Biter Barleywine with the curried leg of lamb, which was served on a bed of cassis and cassia lentils. Kevin Matalucci, the brewer of the barleywine and an attendee at the dinner, has created the mellowest, most palate-pleasing barleywine I have ever sampled. The caramel notes of the barleywine mingled perfectly with the spicy bite of the curried lamb, which was wonderfully buttery and tender.

Thanks again to Neal and Ted for putting together this groundbreaking Indianapolis event. Thanks also to those HBG readers who came out to enjoy the dinner with us. The next symposium won't come soon enough for me!

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