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B&B Night at Swingbellys; or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Snails”

So on this past Tuesday, I attended the Beer and Bourbon tasting dinner.  As always with Chef Alexis Trolf’s cooking, the menu seemed to take chances and push the envelope a bit. I must give it to him that he likes to experiment and test his own skills, in addition to broadening the palate of his diners.  I lost my notes from this night – probably because of the 10 beers and 5 bourbons – so I am relying on mine and my guests memory.

So the night started with a brief intro by Manager Pete Johnson, who outlined the menu and then introduced Tori from Magic Hat Brewery. Tori told us a little about the history of Magic Hat, then a brief description of the first beer pairing.  Here is my breakdown:

Escargot Amaricain

Spice rubbed braised snails, red wine and fresh herb “BBQ” sauce garlic-bacon brittle in a toasted bread bowl

This was interesting to me, as I had never eaten snails before.  At first I tried everything on its own. The escargot had a soft, almost  melt-in-your-mouth kind of texture, and the bacon ‘brittle’ was almost candied.  Everything was pleasant enough on it’s own, but did not really wow me.  That is until I broke off a peice of the toasted bread bowl, topped it with the escargot and a piece of the bacon brittle.  The flavors complimented each other so well and I realized that was probably the way I should have eaten it from the start.  Overall, it was a winner.  The beer paired was Magic Hat #9, which was kind of a dry, crisp beer with a  little sweetness.  The sweetness complimented the savory escargot and overall everything worked.

Paella al Monte

Smoked rabbit, andouille sausage, bacalau, poblano peppers, peas, wild mushrooms, saffron risotto

As I recall, this was delicious.  The smoked rabbit was cooked to perfection, the sausage added a little bit of heat, and the bacalau (cured cod) was another example of Trolf nudging diners toward those ingredients not often seen.  The risotto was just right and to be honest I wanted more, but I also knew that I needed room if I wanted to make it desert. The beer they paired was Lucky Cat, really mellow IPA (read: not to hoppy by IPA standards) which made it pretty accessible to folks who don’t normally like or drink IPA’s.  Another good pairing.

Fry Bread Panzanella

Fresh fry bread, yellow grape tomatoes, red onions, celery, herbs, housemade smoked mozzarella and grapes in a vinagerette.

Excellent take on the classic Italian plate, this may have been my favorite dish all night. It was light and refreshing. I dare say it was flawless.  Well done.

Smoked Osso Buco

Veal shank, braised root vegetables, sweet potato spoon bread

My review of this dish may be a little vauge, as I was about 8 beers and few bourbons deep.  The meat was tender, the sauce delicous.  The spoon bread aded contrasting texture and taste.  Did I mention that I started to get a litlle drunk at this point? My girlfriend Stacey assures me this dish was spot on.

Apfel Strudel

Baked apples in puff pastry, streusel, caramel

Ok, my recollection of this dish is that it was a sweet delicious heap of apples and pastry. After reviewing the pictures I was right.  What it lacked in presentation, it made up for in taste.  The chef told me there was some snafu that forced him to abandon the original presentation of this dish and serve it how it did. I am no food snob, if anyone put this desert in front of me, I would eat it in a heartbeat.

So to recap, all the dishes were good, and a few were great.  Being a fan of Trolf’s food, I like not knowing what to expect when he puts together a menu.  I totally recommend sampling his original dishes whenever the chance arises as you will be treating yourself and maybe even trying something new. I also urge uoi  to stop by Swingbelly’s for the best bbq on Long Island.  They have great food and a great staff, and we enjoy ourselves every single time we go in there.

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- who has written 33 posts on LB Foodie.

I have lived in the West End of Long Beach for about 17 years now.

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