When I reviewed Cafe Bink for PHOENIX Magazine, I concluded that Binkley’s Restaurant’s younger sibling was a class act — a lovable, casual American French Bistro, aptly run by Chef Brandon Gauthier and Amy Binkley. You might know Amy’s husband, Chef Kevin Binkley.
The haute Binkley’s gets lots of attention (deservedly so, Kevin is up for a James Beard Award again this year, and will be cooking at the Beard House on May 3, the night of the awards ceremony) but Cafe Bink is the kind of restaurant you visit more than just on special occasions.
Not to be outdone, Cafe Bink recently hosted its own “special occasion,” a Dogfish Head Brewery vs. Joel Gott Winery dinner, pitting one of the country’s most innovative breweries with a well known (especially for Zinfandel) winery from Napa Valley.
An informal polling of attendees before the dinner revealed that victory predictions were firmly in the Gott camp.
How could beer compete with wine when paired with sophisticated cuisine?
Each of five courses was paired with both a Dogfish beer, introduced by Arizona Sales Manager Louis Dolgoff, and a Joel Gott Wine, introduced by none other than Joel Gott himself.
1st course: (actually a reception with passed hors d’oeuvres) included polish sausage atop brioche toast with mustard seed creme fraiche and Belguin endive stuffed with curried shrimp salad.
Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA vs. Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc.
Round 1: Dogfish Head
2nd Course: Caramelized Pear stuffed with foie gras mousse, and served with apple
buter butter smear, baby arugula, crystallized ginger strips and roasted hazelnuts.
Dogfish Head Pangaea vs. Joel Gott Chardonnay
Round 2: Joel Gott
(For the record, I voted for the ginger spiced Pangaea. The Chardonnay, made in the crisp, Chablis-style (vs. a buttery, oak style), didn’t enhance the flavors of this dish for me.)
3rd Course: Poached Salmon with coriander cous cous, charred scallions, sugar snap peas, and beurre rouge (a luscious, red wine butter reduction.)
Dogfish Head Red & White (11% alcohol, by the way) vs. Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon
Round 3: Joel Gott
(Something tells me that Gott had a leg up on this one, perhaps the red wine sauce was made with the Gott wine?)
4th Course: Braised short ribs with baby turnips, baby carrots, roasted fingerling potatoes and pearl onions.
Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre vs. Joel Gott California Zinfandel
Round 4: Joel Gott
(If you’ll notice, the baby vegetables, passed around in bowls, never made it to my plate. After one bite of the fall-apart ribs coated in a rich veal demi-glace, I decided vegetables would only detract from the fork tender ribs. But that’s just me. My dining companions said the vegetables were lovely.)
5th Course: Mexican Chocolate Torte with whipped cream, cinnamon sugar, blackberries and chocolate sauce.
Dogfish Head Chicory Stout vs. Joel Gott “Dillian Ranch” Zinfandel
Round 5: Dogfish Head
(I wasn’t surprised. When pairing wine with dessert, it should be at least as sweet as the dessert. The Chicory Stout beer was dark enough to match the depth of the chocolate, and since it, too, has chocolate notes, it paired perfectly.)
The take away from this fun, interactive beer vs. wine dinner is that beer is not just a bottle of hops, barley and fizz.
Dogfish Head Brewery beers are crafted with fine ingredients that pair just as well with food as wine, and in some cases, even better than wine.
It’s a given that wine pairs with food, and for the 65 people who attended the Cafe Bink dinner, it’s safe to say that they now think beer is a natural partner for exquisite cuisine, too.
What do you think of pairing beer with more than just burgers and brats?
36889 N. Tom Darlington, Carefree, AZ
You’ll find Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Raison D’Etre on tap and Joel Gott Dillian Ranch Zinfandel on Cafe Bink’s everyday menu.