You may remember that last month I attended Café Felix’s “Origins of Whisk(e)y Tasting Dinner.” This was the first whiskey tasting dinner hosted by Café Felix, and they have since begun offering the tastings on a monthly basis.
Since I had a such a lovely time at last month’s event, I decided to buy tickets for December’s tasting as well. This month’s theme was, “Bourbon and American Whiskey.”
Loved the fresh seasonal décor again this month.
The first course featured my favorite whiskey of the evening: Rittenhouse 100-proof Straight Rye Whiskey. I do love spicy rye whiskey.
The food pairing was unique without question: balsamic-roasted grapes, pink peppercorn jelly (which brought back memories of the cucumber soup with pink peppercorns that I had in Dresden, Germany last summer!), espresso chips, lemon zest, with a chocolate with red wine reduction. Shortly after this plate arrived we were all also served a small wedge of brie to accompany the dish as well. I’m not sure I loved the combination of these flavors, but it was, well, a unique experience, despite being a bit difficult to eat.
The second course featured my favorite food item, Mushroom Cappelini, consisting of fine pasta in a rich, earthy cream sauce.
This course was paired with a Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey.
The third course seemed to be the crowd’s favorite dish, as many people could be heard raving about it – who doesn’t love pork belly?
First up, we received our tasting of a wheated bourbon to accompany the dish.
And, after a bit of a wait from the kitchen, we received our third course: maple-cured pork belly atop seared creamed corn grits, poached egg, drizzled in a sweet onion hollandaise.
I can imagine why this dish took extra time: poaching 40-50 eggs and having them all ready at the same time must be a great challenge. So kudos to the kitchen for that. The meaty parts of the pork belly I liked, but once I reached some of the fattier portions, I passed the meat off to my dining companion and enjoyed the eggs and grits on their own.
The dessert course was paired with a blended, smooth Canadian Whisky. Dessert was good, but honestly it didn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me. We were served a roasted white chocolate creameaux (a creamy, smooth pudding-type dish), which was topped with a bright green, grassy parsley cake crumble, macerated apricot (just a bit too chewy for me), dusted in espresso powder.
It was fine and good, but I just didn’t see the need to pair the flavor of parsley with white chocolate and whisky. I would have liked to have heard from the chef more frequently at this tasting, to understand the rationale of the pairings, but I understand that he must have been quite busy in the kitchen.
Aaand, there was a bonus round! Not a whiskey, but a sampling of a French sémillon wine. Nice, nice.
All in all, I really enjoyed the tasting experience. I was a fan of the whiskeys that were featured at this tasting, especially the rye whiskey and the bourbon. The food, I thought, was lackluster compared to the first tasting. Last time, I was blown away by the incredible food. Our host, bartender Jude, informed us all that a different chef created and prepared the food pairings for this tasting.
While I appreciate the ambitious menu and adventurous ingredients, in my humble opinion, I think the chef went just a bit too far out there for me this time. While the previous tasting’s food menu was perhaps a bit less adventurous, the dishes were sophisticated and executed extremely well. I will say the food portions were a bit more generous this time though, which we also appreciated.
These tastings at Café Felix are a fun time and offered at an affordable price. Check ‘em out.