WaterCourse beer dinner was a decadent vegetarian delight
For the entree, guests were served a Carolina-style barbecue pulled portobello mushroom on a blueberry hushpuppy with haricot vert casserole and red onion jam. The portobello was unbelievably barbecue-like, tasting like it had been slow-smoked and pulled in the finest Carolina style. Combined with the hushpuppy, which had whole blueberries rolled inside of it for surprising bursts of sweetness, and red-onion jam, which added just the right amount of tart, this mushroom saved the reputation of an item that's all too often just a slimey meat substitute. The haricot vert casserole was the real star, though: The fresh green beans, smothered in a gravy that would make any Southern housewife proud, squeaked across the teeth.
There was still one more course to go. Dessert brought a toasted coconut panna cotta on a bed of cacao nibs with bruleed bananas and a caramel spoon, as well as three beverages: the Wynkoop's Coconut Milk Stout, the Great Divide's 16th Anniversary Ale and a few sips of organic Mexican Chiapas coffee from Pablo's. The panna cotta was sweet and creamy with a few delicate shreds of coconut for texture; combined with the sweet caramel, slightly bitter (but decadent) cacao nibs and the banana, it was spectacular. The 16th Anniversary Ale didn't pair very well with this dessert -- it was much too hoppy, and the bitterness didn't blend with the sweet goodness of the panna cotta -- but the coconut stout was an ideal companion, thick and smooth and delicious. And Pablo's made one of the best cups of coffee imaginable: served piping hot and superbly blended for a rich, smooth taste, it needed no milk or sugar.
Overall, WaterCourse did a fantastic job with this beer dinner. Next year, though, it might want to offer the meal through the entire week of Beer Fest, rather than on just one night. Think about it, WaterCourse: If you serve it, they will come.