29 September 2010

Yelp Elite Event at Chef JJ's

Chances are, you're probably familiar with Yelp.  Yelp is one of the most prolific restaurant review sites on the internet, spanning a broad range of cities and business types.  Even if you haven't posted a review on it, you've probably read one.  Yelp has a special designation for its top reviewers in each area, and that is "Yelp Elite."  As we recently found out, Yelp hosts events for their Yelp Elite in each city, designed to both encourage people to become top reviewers, and to expose these review powerhouses to local businesses that they may not have otherwise experienced.  The first such event in Indy was held at the Ball and Biscuit.  The second event was recently held at Chef JJ's Backyard.  These events aren't open to the public, but Yelp Ambassador Jon Akerman invited a few members of HBG to the Chef JJ event to share with our readers what these Yelp Elite events are all about.

Over here at Hoosier Beer Geek, we've shared a number of different Chef JJ's Backyard events with you.  Hey, there's even a couple Sun King brewer's dinners coming up in November.  In case you're new to the Chef JJ experience, the entire concept is that all of the food is prepared on Big Green Eggs - magical ceramic grills/ovens.  The Yelp Elite event was part educational and part small plate beer pairing.  We heard after the event that at least one Yelp Elite member was so impressed by the Big Green Egg experience, he bought one that night!  Here's a sample of the plates and beer pairings we experienced.

Food: Grilled Bread Trio - "chewy and crunchy" grilled baguette rubbed with Artisano's blood orange, chipotle and basil olive oils.

Beer: Sunlight Cream Ale

Summary: The bread was topped with a watermelon and cabbage slaw that helped lighten the oiled breads. Sunlight was light enough to not take away from the flavored oils and helped cleanse the oil from the palate. Of the three oils, blood orange was probably the strongest flavored and worked best with the slaw.

Food: Vegan Butternut Squash and Sage Soup

Beer: Wee Mac Scottish Ale

Summary: A very hearty stew made even more unique by the different stages of grill preparation it underwent. Wee Mac picked up a lot of nutty characteristics with from the squash and imparted a complimentary flavor.

Food: Gorgonzola Potatoes with Grilled Steak from Goose the Market

Beer: Osiris Pale Ale

Summary: The smoked and then grilled steak was incredibly well seasoned with a dash of Worcestershire. The blue cheese in the potatoes and the salty smoked meat both helped bring out a more dominate malt character in the beer, while the hops worked in the opposite direction to cleanse the palate (as they tend to do).

Food: Salted Caramel Brownies

Beer: Big H Hefeweizen

Summary: This was a fun deconstructed s'more. Big banana flavors in the beer created a new flavor experience of chocolate covered banana.

It was a lot of fun to see so many adventurous people together trying a new experience at the Backyard Grill. If you're interesting in participating in future Yelp Elite events, the only way to do so is to post a ton of well written reviews - so get Yelping!

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