Sunday, October 21, 2007

Z Cucina Beer Tasting

This review is slightly different from some of my other reviews. We have been to Z Cucina many times for dinner, but this time we went for a beer tasting. Therefore, this review is more on the tasting than the restaurant as a whole.

The tasting focused on the Avery Brewery, located in Boulder, Colorado, with guest host Adam Avery, the owner and brewmaster of Avery. I thought it was a wonderful touch to have the owner of the brewery there to educate the tasters on each beer we were trying. The night consisted of a 5 course meal with each course pair with a different beer, and most courses we were actually served 2 different beers.

The Sous Chef began the evening with a Fennel Salad served with citrus, cilantro, and spiced pumpkin seeds. It was paired with Avery's White Rascal Belgian Wit and they also served wih Avery's Salvation Belgian Golden Strong Ale. The salad was wonderful! The citrus and fennel gave the salad a summer feel, but the addition of the spiced pumpkin seeds were a nice touch to remind us that it is fall. The salad was paired perfectly with the White Rascal Belgian Wit, however I have decided not to comment on the beer itself, as my husband is more the beer review than I.

The second course was one of the most interesting dishes I think I have had in quite some time. Ths course consisted of 2 pan-seared scallops on top of a bed of black lima beans and diced ham. The scallops were topped with crispy sweet potato straws and finished with a pomegranate seed and sauce. I would never have thought myself to pair scallops and lima beans, but this worked remarkably well. This course was wonderful and probably my favorite of the evening. It was paired with Avery's Redpoint Amber Ale.

The third course was duck and parsnips prepared two different ways. One preparations was seared duck with pickled parsnips. The duck was juicy, tender, and flavorful. The pickled parsnips were a very interesting addition to the duck breast and added a special touch to the duck breast. The other preparation was duck leg confit with masked parsnips with a sort of demi glaze. The parsnips were creamy and very similar to mashed potatoes. The leg confit was my part of this course. It was rich and full of flavor. This dish was paired nicely with Avery's Jubilation English Strong Ale.

Our fourth course was espresso rubbed lamb rack with a mixed grain risotto, mixed beets, and finally the lamb was finished with ancho mole. The lamb was tender and juicy. The espresso rub was a welcome addition to the lamb. The mixed risotto was wonderful and I felt the highlight of this course. I tasted the beets and I am sure that they were wonderful, but I am just not a beet fan. This dish was nicely paired with Avery's Hog Heaven Barleywine.

The final course was dessert. They served goat cheese cheesecake with persimmon puree, honey-cardamom candy, and topped this all off with pink salt. The cheesecake was smooth and very dense. I really enjoyed it with the persimmon puree. I was not a huge fan of the pink salt on top. I personally would have like the salt to be mixed into the crust instead of on top of the cake. Besides the salt, the cheesecake was wonderful. The final dish was paired with Avery's Oak Aged English Strong Ale. The Strong Ale was a nice accompaniment with the dessert as it had more of a cognac quality to it than beer.

I thoroughly enjoyed our evening tasting beer and tasting it with food. I think the evening was a success and we are looking forward to our next tasting there, be it wine or beer!!