Better for the 2015 Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival to go out in a blaze of glorious grilling.
The four-day festival capped its final event, the Grand Tasting at The Gardens Mall — outgrowing the island for the first time in its 9-year history — with an ultimate chefs battle.
Chefs from Cafe Boulud, EmKo Palm Beach and Buccan tested their skills with Creekstone Farms organic Angus beef and Duroc pork in 30 minutes. And they knew they were cooking for discerning palates, with judges that included celebrity chefs Marc Murphy and Robert Irvine.
In the end, EmKo’s Nick Martinkovic won the crown and $10,000 for his charity, No Kid Hungry, with his grilled skirt steak, pork jowel, broccoli stem and cured egg yolk. He edged out Café Boulud’s Jimmy Strine and Buccan’s Taylor Balderson.
Buccan, the home turf of the county’s own two-time James Beard Award nominee Clay Conley, hosted a family-style meal with star power: Southern food savant and James Beard cookbook award winner Hugh Acheson, Gavin Kaysen (two-time James Beard finalist) and Michelin-star-rated George Mendes.
Each cooked two dishes — actually stood in Conley’s kitchen and prepared the meals — for 140 guests smart enough to snap up the tickets to this event. That intimacy is what sets this festival apart from the South Beach Wine and Food Festival which draws thousands.
“Some of the festivals are so huge, they’re over the top,” said Acheson, a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef. “Here, you can really spend time with people.”
Best Local Beer of the Week: Summer Wind Belgian ale
What it is
Take note when lifelong brewmaster Fran Andrewlevich, co-founder of Twisted Trunk Brewing and Tequesta Brewing Co., says he has finally created a beer he has spent his entire career trying to brew. Twisted Trunk aged a Belgian blonde ale in a foudre, a large wooden cask that holds up to 600 gallons of beer. After brewing the beer with Belgian malted barley and German yeasts, the beer spent 3 ½ months in the foudre with Belgian sour yeasts to give Summer Wind a singular, distinctive flavor. Expect notes of apples, pears and spice from the Minnesota white oak. Several kegs of this beer will be treated with other flavors (such as an upcoming peach-lemongrass concoction) to add even more depth. And expect a unique batch of beer every time it comes out of Twisted’s foudre. “The barrel has a mind of its own, and that’s the beauty of it,” Andrewlevich said.
Where to get it
The foudre will be tapped for the first time Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Twisted Trunk’s brewery in Palm Beach Gardens. Cost: $5 pints at the brewery taproom, $4 during happy hour, Tuesday to Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Why wait for October when you can celebrate Septemberfest?
Palm Beach’s Cafe Boulud is getting a head start on Oktoberfest by partnering with several local breweries for a spectacularly paired biergarten on Sept. 25.
It’s a juxtaposition worth drinking to: Internationally renowned chef Daniel Boulud’s epitome of white-linen, fine dining on Palm Beach island hosting a beer garden with some of the best craft breweries in Florida, including three from Palm Beach County.
Executive chef Rick Mace will set up four dining stations around the courtyard of the historic home of Cafe Boulud, The Brazilian Court, where Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing, Tequesta Beer Co., Twisted Trunk Brewing, and Barrel of Monk’s Brewing will be serving a variety of their beers.
Mace’s offerings will include the following: a station dedicated to river oysters, clams, mussels, and marinated squid; a sausage station with Thai links, chorizo and boudin noir; one dedicated to three kinds of sliders; and a dessert station with French tarts and American pies.
Among the beers are several hard-to-find offerings, including Cigar City’s pumpkin beer, Good Gourd, which they produce just once a year, Barrel of Monks’ Three Fates Belgian tripel and Tequesta’s Der Chanellor pilsner.
Tickets to the event are limited and cost $75 a person, $65 for groups of four or more. They can be purchased by calling 561-655-6060.
Best Local Beer of the Week: barrel-aged Mariana Trench imperial stout by Due South
What it is
Take Due South Brewing Co.’s most complex beer, Mariana Trench — deep and dark in color like the eponymous Atlantic Ocean trench — which they make only once a year and which won a gold medal at the Best Florida Beer Championship; and now age it for almost a year in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels. That’s how you make a beer that puts you — and keeps you — on the map locally, regionally and nationally. (It’s no surprise there’s an appetite for Due South’s brews in beer-crazy Philadelphia.) It’s a high-alcohol beer (about 10 percent alcohol by volume) brewed with cocoa and vanilla to give it intense and complex flavors, aged in one of 17 premium barrels that some adventurous Due South employee trucked down in an old pickup from Kentucky. This is Due South’s third year brewing and aging this beer, and they will continue to age nine barrels’ worth for future experimentation.
Where to get it
Due South will bottle only 1,300 22-ounce bottles of barrel-aged Mariana Trench, which it will sell exclusively at its brewery Saturday at noon. And when they’re gone, they’re gone — until next year’s batch. There will be a limit of four bottles per person. The beer will go on sale at exactly noon, though a line will be forming, guaranteed, hours before. For those who would rather not wait in line, the beer will also be on tap at the brewery and later at select bars in South Florida in limited quantities. Two of those are The Brass Tap in Boynton Beach and Tap 42 in Boca Raton.
Due South Brewing, 2900 High Ridge Rd. #3 Boynton Beach, 561-463-2337
Blood orange Belgian wheat ale from Copperpoint Brewery
What it is
One of the summer favorites at the three-month old Coppperpoint Brewery in Boytnon Beach has been its Belgian wit wheat ale (also known as a witbier), the Witness. But one particular variant of that carefully crafted beer is a blood-orange variety. To the standard Witness, which is brewed with Florida oranges and coriander to give it a citrusy, peppery flavor, brewmaster/owner Matt Cox adds hard-to-source blood oranges (peels, juice, everything). This treatment gives an already flavorful beer a tart bite and a fragrant citrus scent. The beer takes extra long to make, costs more, but as Cox said, “we do it because it’s good. And good things never come easy.” Except drinking this finely crafted beer; that comes very easily. It’s the perfect goodbye to summer.
Where to get it
Copperpoint won’t begin distributing its beer to local bars and restaurants for at least another 30 days. Until then, its beers are available only in its taproom. The blood orange wit is a limited beer, so get it while it’s available. It costs $5.50 for a 13-ounce pour in a snifter. But during happy hour Monday through Friday, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., all beers are $4.
Funky Buddha Brewery officially has one of the best beers in the world.
RateBeer.com named Funky Buddha’s sought-after Maple Bacon Coffee Porter — which, indeed tastes of all those things — as its 12th best beer in the world, on a recent list of its 20 best in the world. MBCP scored a perfect 100 rating from users of the website. (BusinessInsider.com printed the entire list.)
RateBeer.com named Wisconsin Belgian Red from New Glarus as its top beer. Hill Farmstead in North Greensboro, Vermont, had three beers in the top 10. And Russian River’s Pliny the Elder rounded out the top 10.
Earlier this year, People magazine also named MBCP as one of its best. Funky Buddha brewed MBCP for just the second time this year. And when it held a release party on Jan. 10, it sold more than 6,900 tickets and 9,000 bottles of MBCP — in a single day.
DO YOU AGREE?
Have you had MBCP? How about the offerings from Hill Farmstead? Share your thoughts with the hashtag #PBTAPPED.
It’s too bad killer whales don’t drink craft beer.
Last year alone, independently owned Florida breweries produced enough craft beer to fill Shamu’s tank at SeaWorld six-and-half times — nearly 35 million gallons — and have enough left over for the world’s greatest block party.
Beer aficionados call rare craft beers “whalez.” How’s that for a whale, Florida?
And nowhere is the Florida craft beer trend more visible than in Palm Beach County, home to seven of Florida’s 111 breweries, four of which opened in the last year alone.
“Florida is finally recognizing … that there is a big difference between good beer and mediocre beer. And people are going to great lengths to get it,” said Dr. Bill McFee, co-founder of Barrel of Monks Brewing in Boca Raton.
Craft beer isn’t just the next big thing — it has arrived.
And starting today, so has The Palm Beach Post’s new craft beer section — TAPPED
TAPPED will plug you into the craft beer scene with: