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|Caesar's Mia Hits it Out of the Yards!|
|Written by Tony Forder|
|Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:21|
Beery good things are happening down the Jersey Shore these days. Not only have there been a spate of brewery openings in the past year -- both nano and micro* -- but beer events have come under the spotlight.
None more so than the current Beer Dinner Series at the elegant Mia restaurant at Caesar's in Atlantic City. Patrick Morrissey who sells beer for Hunterdon Distributors in the South Jersey Shore area has noticed the change in beer perception in what used to be Coors Light land and when Caesar's came calling he was only too happy to oblige.
Mia's beer dinner series kicked off a couple of months ago featuring the wildly popular Dogfish Head Brewery from Delaware. June 21, Hunterdon rolled out a selection of beers from Philadelphia's Yards brewery.
Chef Paul Haney, a protégé of Chef Chris Scarduzio, turned in a virtuoso culinary performance highlighting some of Yards historical re-creations with his own take on colonial cuisine.
The dinner began simply enough with a cornmeal beer battered fried oyster paired with Yards Extra Special Ale. Yards rep Ron Johnson took us back to Yards origins brewing British-style beers (ESA was the first) in Philadelphia and pouring them on a Real Ale setup at Bridgids bar rigged by Philly beer pioneer Jim Anderson.For the second course, Haney went native -- pairing locally caught Snapper Turtle with The Brawler, Yards easy-drinking mild/brown ale. My first experience with this critter, I found it delicious, the beer imparting a sweet nuttiness to the chunky broth. It also became obvious that Chef Haney was not skimping on the beer in the kitchen evidently using copious quantities in each recipe.Next up, a very potent Mallard duck sausage with sweet and sour beer cabbage paired with Yards Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale, the sweetness derived from the honey used in this ale's recipe.
While Johnson had been at pains to emphasize Yards resistance to the hophead craze, he did allow that the brewery had felt obliged to introduce an India Pale Ale. It is still nonetheless more of a British-style IPA with a strong malt backbone rather than an in-your-face hoppy American style. The IPA found a satisfying pairing with Salted Cod Cakes.
Another colonial-style beer -- Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale -- paired wonderfully well with caramelized apple-stuffed roasted quail in a succulent spruce cider reduction. The brewery gives the dangerous spruce tip flavoring a very subtle hand.
The coup de grace was delivered by George Washington Chocolate Porter paired with a sinfully rich Chocolate Cherry Porter Torte.
It's one thing when a beer-oriented restaurant produces a beer dinner; it's another thing completely when a high-end Italian-style (read wine) restaurant puts beer in the spotlight. Mia's bar carries a varied selection of bottled beers, and chef Paul Haney has obviously caught the beer-pairing bug. No pun intended, but he mentioned he will be pairing beer-battered Ugandan crickets with NJ's Cricket Hill brewery at an upcoming AC exotic foods event.
Meanwhile, mark you calendars for Mia's next beer dinner, September 13 with Weyerbacher Brewing Co. The dinner costs $90 for six beer courses infused and paired with beer. For more info, go to www.miaac.com or caesars atlantic city facebook.
* Oh yes, about those Micros and Nanos down The Shore: Carton Brewing- Atlantic Highlands (M); Kane Brewing-Ocean (M); Tuckahoe Brewing - Tuckahoe (N); Turtlestone Brewing (M); Cape May Brewing - Cape May (N).