January 2, 2010

A new year started off right!

I started writing this a couple of days ago. And now we're really in to 2010 and you know how I can tell? Because I'm already remembering to write "2010" on my checks, instead of "2009". Although, I've only written 2 checks so I shouldn't be too proud yet.

I had an amazing New Year's Eve, and hope you did, too. I went to Varga Bar for their 5-course (mostly) Dogfish Head beer-paired dinner. It was truly a delicious meal. Below is what I had for each course, as well as the beer it was paired with.

Course 1 - roasted green meadow farm longneck pumpkin soup. This was an amazing soup - not overly pumpkiny, creamy, done with lemongrass, toasted cinnamon, and pumpkin seed oil. The kind of soup that makes you want to lick your bowl clean. It was paired with the 120 Minute IPA (way to kick things off the right way!).

Course 2 - there were 3 offerings and I chose the oysters, which were served with a citrus relsih and didn't disappoint. Luckily I also got to try the other two options - grilled hickory-bourbon smoked octopus and a crispy wild mushroom polenta. Both were outstanding. My friend sitting next to me had the polenta, and I'm pretty sure I heard her moaning as she was eating it. This course was the only paired with a beer other than Dogfish Head; it came with the Troegs Mad Elf.

Course 3 - the cheese course! No choosing here - everyone got a rogue river blue with cherry balsamic reduction, an aged gouda with spiced almonds & black olive caramel, and a Vermont cheddar with spiced apple-cranberry and almond compote. I'm pretty sure I was moaning while I ate this course. It was paired with Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine. I should point out that by this time the effects of the beers were making themselves known. We weren't getting full pints, but it didn't matter. These were some serious beers!

Course 4 - I had the roasted winter squash and three cheese ravioli. "Amazing" doesn't begin to do it justice. It was served with crispy polenta, pecan-sage brown butter, shaved parmesan, sautéed pea tops, and royal trumpet mushrooms, and it was paired with the Worldwide Stout. The other two choices were a grilled rib eye and maple-pecan crusted duck breast; given that I'm a vegetarian, I didn't try either of them, but my friends said they were terrific.

Course 5 (the dessert course, thankfully!) - I ordered the housemade pumpkin pie, but honestly didn't eat much of it. By this point the beers were doing their job and the food had done it's job - I was sufficiently stuffed and feeling pretty good! The dessert course was paired with the Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada collaboration Life and Limb (which I did manage to drink).

Anyone familiar with these beers will know that the lowest ABV among the bunch is 10%. That's right - that's the lowest.

If NYE was any indication, 2010 is going to be a year filled with good beers, good friends, and good times. But I think we all already knew that.


  1. Somehow, I managed to drink every single beer (and at least one that someone else didn't drink.) I think I was trying to get a good start on the night, and I certainly did! It was a great time and even though the dinner ended a little fuzzy for me, I still remember the food was amazing!

    Here's to much more fun in 2010!

  2. Um, you don't think our bottle of champagne and quick stop at the Royal was a good start to the night?!? Just kidding. It was fun from start to finish and I can't wait to do it again next year. Or anytime in between now and then, either.