Ramstein Beer dinner at Restaurant Passionné
A couple weeks ago I ran into Chef Mike Carrino, owner of Restaurant Passionné, at an Oktoberfest party in Montclair NJ where he was serving up some amazing brats with red cabbage. As we were talking, he told me that if I like these brats I had to come to his private Beer dinner with Ramstein Beer. Well, he had me sold at “beer”, surprised? How could I pass up an invitation to a private dinner with Chef Mike, Greg Zaccardi, Owner of Ramstein, and Brian Baxter, Brewmaster of Ramstein.
I know most of you don’t know who Chef Mike Carrino is, I guess all you really need to know is his Restaurant Passionné is in Monclair NJ and his food kicks ass! Like wise, if you have never heard of Ramstein beer, that’s OK. It is a regional beer, NJ, NY and PA, but it also is the source of the Number one rated oktoberfest beer on Beer Advocate.
For this dinner, Chef Mike had prepared an amazing five course meal that not only pairs different Ramstein beers, but also uses the paired beer as an ingredient in each of the respective dish!
Our first course was Goose Liver with Apples (Ganselebur mit Apflen), which was paired with a Ramstein Golden Lager. While this beer had extremely low abv, 3.8%, it had a flavorful crispness with an herbal malty nose that was a great contrast to the richness of the pate. The thin apple slice on top of the pate brought the crispness of the beer together with the pate.
Our next course was the most amazing Beer and Cheese Soup (Bier und Käse Suppe) paired with a Ramstein Blonde Hefe-Weizen. My wife was in love with the soup, so much so I feared I would not be able to have mine. I really wouldn’t have minded if she took it, I’m really not a soup kind of guy, but then I tried it. I was blown away. It was creamy, cheesy, and rich, with bits of bacon to give it some texture and added flavor. I was surprised how well the beer came though in the soup giving it a bit more depth. You can imagine how well the beer pair up with this dish since it was made with the hefe. Since the hefe in the soup was not a dominant flavor, but added to the underlying flavor and complexity, the two together were incredible.
The course was the one that originally brought me here, Pork Bratwurst, Braised red cabbage with apples (Bratwurst und Kohl) paired with the Ramstein Classic Hefe-Weizen. This hefe was a robust beer, malty, chocolaty, roasted grain, apple, and clove. Excellent beer that while it looked heavy was very light with tons of flavor that went great with the grilled Brats. The brats were not your typical greasy peel them out of a shrink wrapped Styrofoam tray. No, these were light, tasty, and flavorful brats that had been previously soaking up all that delicious Ramstein Classic Hefe before being grilled! The two were meant for each other. The best course yet!
How could this meal get any better? How about another course. Our fourth course was Braised Hare, Caramelized Onion Puree, Fennel and Roasted Carrot (Has mit Gemüse) paired with Ramstiens Oktoberfest. The smooth malty fest beer tasted wonderful with the tenderness of the rabbit and the sweet onion puree hit the note of honey sweetness in the beer. What really got me with this dish was the aroma, the beer and the food matched up beautifully, weaving together.
The last course caught my wife’s and my attention as soon as we looked at the menu. Dopplebock Ice cream with Chocolate coated Sourdough Pretzel bits and Apple & Coffee Strudel (Apfel und Kaffe Strudel) Paired with Ramsteins 2008 Doppelbock (Winter Wheat). One word – Unbelievable! Hands down, the best Ice Cream I’ve had. How Chef Mike put that together, I don’t know, but it was out of this world. The ice cream tasted just like the aged Doppelbock. The Doppelbock was dark and malty with current, plum, and raisin. There were also notes of coffee and a lingering hint of licorice. Wonderful beer to finish off a wonderful meal.
This was the second equally impressive beer and food pairing I’ve been to at Restaurant Passionné. You can’t go wrong with top notch food and top notch beer. I’m looking forward to the next beer and food pairing with Chef Mike!
77 Walnut Street