Wednesday 16 April 2014

#BrewsWePlate: An Evening of Fine Dining and Irish Craft Beer

#BrewsWePlate is the brainchild of couple Eric Heilig and Floriane Loup, who during their pop up events serve a tasting menu made to match perfectly with a selection of Irish craft beers. I was delighted when Caroline Byrne aka 'The Dublin Foodie' asked me to go along with her a few weeks ago: an evening of Irish craft beer and fine dining definitely sounded like a good plan!

I didn’t know what to expect, which made it even more exciting. Upon arrival I found myself in a room especially set up for the pop up dinner upstairs in Cassidy’s on Westmoreland Street. 

That night, #BrewsWePlate teamed up with White Gypsy brewery which is based in co. Tipperary and between each course Declan Nixon from White Gypsy introduced us to each beer.

We were greeted with a Cork Dry Gin and Tonic with Dillisk seaweed and cucumber for aperitif. Buckets containing a variety of fresh homemade breads were brought to the table (treacle and porter brown soda bread, Swedish style pilsner and flux seed flat bread, nettle bread, spring onion and walnut bread and multigrain loaf) as well as carrot and ginger butter and lemon and wild garlic butter.

We started off with an unusual amuse-bouche of shredded pork, crispy pig’s ear with Dillisk crème fraîche wild garlic and buttermilk foam. It was an interesting and delicious mix of textures, the pork tartar worked wonders with the strong flavor of wild garlic.

The pairing started with White Gypsy’s blond beer served with a scallop dish. The perfectly cooked and plump scallop was plated with a smear of roast banana puree, coriander leaves, lime gel and Goji berries. This tasted wonderfully exotic and happened to be my favourite dish, leaving me with a taste for more.

We then had a White Gypsy Belgian brown ale paired with the next dish, consisting of a hen’s egg, leek, roast Jerusalem artichoke, roasted pear, torn brioche and chicken heart.

A White Gypsy American pale ale came next with the main dish:  a piece of tender pork shoulder, crispy pieces of crackling, grapes, smooth celeriac puree, almonds and grapefruit.

We rounded off the feast with a White Gypsy German Doppelbock served with wonderful dark chocolate ganache, a sweet potato gel, rye, duck egg yolk ice cream, sea salt and cocoa soil. 

I found #BrewsWePlate to be an original concept and an enjoyable experience. The food was inventive, beautifully plated and the pairings worked well. The service wasn’t rushed and the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. After the event, I was curious to know more about the people behind #BrewsWePlate and so interviewed Eric and Floriane.

What’s #BrewsWePlate?
#BrewsWePlate is simple. We offer food and craft beer lovers a great pop up experience. We occupy a different location for each event and invite an exciting brewery over to serve and introduce the guests to their best Irish-produced beers. On our side, we put together a tasting menu in which each dish is specifically designed to enhance the flavours, various characteristics and qualities of each beer.  We aim at uniting the best of what Ireland has to offer.
We also want to open the experience to food and beer lovers or companies that would like to recreate these evenings at home or in any other location. You can now get #BrewsWePlate just for yourself and guests, with a designed tasting menu and beer pairing. 
Who is the team behind #BrewsWePlate?
The whole #BrewsWePlate adventure started with chef Eric Heilig and Maitre d'hote Floriane Loup. We are partners in life and in business. Eric has been working as a chef for the past twelve years and has broadened his culinary skills in some of the best restaurants around Europe. Among them, "The Long Room Hub" at The Lodge in Doonbeg, voted best Irish Hotel Restaurant of 2012, where he worked as the Junior Sous-Chef. His travels and love for food lead him to work in Michelin starred restaurants such as Bacchus in Mallorca and Le Val d'Or in Germany. After obtaining a sommelier degree, Eric developed a passion for craft beers and has since then involved them in his food and experimented with various foraged ingredients to the point of brewing his own beers and ciders. 
Floriane has always been what people call a "foodie". As she was working in the food industry in some of Dublin's best restaurants while completing her Masters in Journalism, Floriane had to face the facts and admit that she could not live without her two passions: food and communicating. She has worked for various newspapers and magazines in France and Ireland and worked as a communications officer for the European Parliament in Luxembourg. 
We have the same food and beer philosophy: breaking the stiff conventions tied to fine-dining and opening the doors of a too-often-closed club of food lovers and craft beer aficionados.

- What was your inspiration and how did you come up with the idea of #BrewsWePlate?
We've always been true foodies. We both are coming from countryside families and enjoy simple but well-produced food. We are always looking for new flavours and that is probably what brought us to craft beers. We both have knowledge and background in wine but discovered that the possibilities are endless with beers. Each beer is different, has its own characteristics and flavours. 
One of the first conversations we had when we met was about the fact that we could not find a place in Dublin that would render all this. You do have more and more craft beer pubs opening with great beers but they tend to be too cautious in their food menu. Moreover, even though the restaurant industry has been booming for the past few years and more beers have been given a spot in the drinks lists, nobody has yet fully involved them in their food or in their pairings. There are no perfectly balanced tasting menus offered, with dishes specifically created to enhance and elevate the flavours of excellent craft beers.
Food and beer should be enjoyed by all in an open-minded, simple and sharing philosophy without having to compromise with the quality you're getting. We decided that it was time for to take it in our own hands, share our passion with people and also get them to learn more about food and beer.

#BrewsWePlate on Facebook here 
#BrewsWePlate on Twitter here 

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event free of charge.  I gave no undertaking to write a review and the words above are, as always, my honest opinion.