Beer vs. Wine at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse: The Report

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct honor and privilege of attending the Beer vs. Wine Dinner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in Tampa. As I mentioned in my post before the event, it was billed as being quite the culinary affair, with some truly excellent pairings of craft beer from Cigar City Brewing and wines from Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Vineyard. The evening was moved along nicely with some friendly banter and competition between Cigar City’s Travis Krueger and Danielle Bretschneider, a certified sommelier from Southern Wine & Spirits. While there may be some debate among the attendees who actually won the challenge, there can be no question about the quality and deliciousness of the courses we were presented with.

First Course

Chorizo Stuffed Datessmoked bacon and pomodori sauce
Dos Costas Oestes Lemon Imperial Saison vs. Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley, 2009

I didn’t think I liked dates, but these were incredible. The sweetness of the dates and pomodori and the spiciness of the chorizo and the smokiness of the bacon played so well together. The Dos Oestes won this one hands down, with the lemon tart/bitterness perfectly complimenting all of the other flavors. The Sauvignon Blanc got completely lost in the flavors.

Score: Beer 1 – Wine 0

Second Course

Charred Seabassshaved artichokes, crimini mushrooms, pine nuts, parmesan, kale chips
Dos Costas Oestes Cedar Imperial Saison vs. Chardonnay Napa Valley Karia, 2009

A delicious tender, flaky fish, incredible flavors, and the first time I have ever had kale and liked it. The chardonnay was a perfect match, offering the buttery oakiness one would expect and playing well off of the pine nuts and mushrooms. The cedar variation of Dos Oestes was overpowering, completely eclipsing the flavors of the food.

Score: Beer 1 – Wine 1

Third Course

Duck Leg Confit Napoleon – fig jam, spring onion, lotus root chip
Maduro Brown Ale vs. Hands of Time, Napa Valley 2009

Bursting with flavor and incredible mouthfeel. The duck had just the right amount of gaminess balanced by the sweetness of the fig jam.  The lotus chip was the perfect vehicle with a crispness and texture that complimented the smoothness of the confit. Both the wine and beer paired well with this one. But the roasted malt of the Maduro gave the edge to the beer in this round.

Score: Beer 2 – Wine 1

Fourth Course

Grilled Octopus – fingerling potatoes, salsa verde, rhubarb, baby beets
Jai Alai IPA vs. Merlot Napa Valley, 2007

I have rarely had a complete tentacle of the cephalopod. Usually it is a small piece in a piece of sushi or in bits in a stew, but this was an impressive cut, suckers and all. And it was delicious, tender, and not at all rubbery like I expected. The seasoning was just enough to draw out a unique flavor, and the potatoes were perfectly done. Again, both wine and beer paired excellently, but there are few drinks that can compare to Jai Alai. The bitterness of the hops accentuated the seasonings of both potatoes and octopus, and the carbonation was the perfect palate cleanser.

Score: Beer 3 Wine 1

Fifth Course

Porcini Rubbed Beef Tenderloin – morel, shiitake portobello ragout, aged balsamic, gruyere and Yukon souffle
Kalevipoeg Baltic Porter vs. Napa Valley Artemis, 2009

Incredibly tender and flavorful, this was one of the better tenderloins I have ever had. The mushroom earthiness was an excellent compliment to the medium-rare meat, and the souffle was amazing. While the Artemis wine was also excellent, the Kalevipoeg brought just a tad more to the complexity of flavors with its mix of roasted chocolate malts, coffee, dark fruits, a touch of peat, and a hint of booze.

Score: Beer 4 Wine 1

Sixth Course

Chilled White Chocolate Almond Souffle – graham cracker crust, blueberry, salted caramel chip
Fresh brewed coffee

An amazing end to an amazing meal. Absolutely decadent and delicious, the souffle was so light but filled with flavor. Sweet white chocolate and nutty almond with some tartness of the blueberries. While the coffee was nice, I will admit to sneaking some more of the Kelevipoeg to sip with the dessert, and it was an excellent match.

FINAL SCORE: BEER 4 WINE 1

Okay, so I am a tad biased, but the wines were excellent as well, and certainly recommended. The entire experience was unforgettable. Kudos to the folks at Fleming’s, especially Chef Partner Ryan Mitchell and Sous Chef Pedro Anzardo. You guys put together a unique and delicious experience that I will not soon forget. Travis Krueger and Danielle Bretschneider did a spectacular job of selecting the beers and wines, and also for being entertaining and educational for all in attendance. This is the kind of event everyone should go to at least once. I hope to go a lot more than that!

Cheers!

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~ by Sean Nordquist on September 9, 2012.

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