walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oysters, Turkey Wings, Pizza, and Belgian Beer

I should begin this post by noting that I am a profound lightweight.

Sadly, this does not -- at least, at the moment -- mean that I weigh 135 pounds (though my racing weight is somewhere in that neighborhood).  What it means is that I can drink, like, .25 beers before I am too tipsy to drive.  Natch.

That said, this evening, I enjoyed a night out at the soon-to-open Garage Bar on east Market Street in down town Louisville including not one, but two, distinct and interesting Belgian beers*.

DD and the Garage's chef de cuisine, Kelly Lehman, have known each-other since college.  DD and I have known about Garage Bar since its inception, and about the turkey wings concept since slightly after said inception -- since which time we have waited impatiently and with barely-contained culinary lust to try the wings.

Tonight, we finally got our chance: on the last of the Garage's testing nights, the wings were ready to fly.

This was actually our second night at Garage Bar.

Our first trip, with KL's Mom, saw us tasting the rolled oysters and a pair of pizzas -- one Margherita (a classic, and one of my favorites: if I've tasted a better execution, I sure don't remember it) and one Sweet Corn (a novel pizza that I didn't expect to like, but which turned out to be delightful).  I also enjoyed Rogue's Dead Guy Ale (simply because Rogue Racing Project is the team I continually try not to embarrass) and DD tried one of Garage's signature drinks, known as the alco-seltzer.  The Dead Guy was fine -- light, crisp, and hoppy -- and the alco-seltzer won DD's approval (he likes his drinks sweet and doesn't like the taste of alcohol, so draw your own conclusions).  I found the rolled oysters a bit heavy and thought they could use a crisper crust, but everything else was spot-on.

Tonight, we returned specifically to try the turkey wings.  However, since oysters play a major role on the Garage's culinary stage, we decided to try some of those as well.  While we waited, I enjoyed a brew named Delirium Tremens -- a Belgian strong pale ale.

Spicy, yeasty, round, and sweet, it felt like a solid match for the oysters (a hunch that was confirmed when they arrived).  Our server mentioned that the Chimay glass was nearly identical to the type preferred for this particular beer.  I thought it was funny, since I'd considered the Chimay, but decided against it (it comes in a 22 oz bottle, which is way more beer than I need at one sitting).

The DT, brewed by Huyghe Brewery of Ghent, also looks really pretty and forms a crisp, foamy head:

Yeast can't read anyway.

Unfortunately, the rappahanocks we'd hoped for weren't available, so DD ordered some other variety.  They were cool, fresh, and flavorful -- very nice spritzed with lemon and doused in hot sauce.  I'm not, however, much of a raw-oyster guy, so they were more of a diversion than anything.  As I've mentioned, they were a nice match for the DT.

With the oysters dispatched, we moved on to the evening's main target: KL's long-awaited spicy turkey** wings.

I can't even begin to describe the process that goes into making these wings: they're infused, smoked, marinated, and subjected to various other flavor-inducing forms of culinary torture before being served to the unsuspecting public.  By the time they reach the table, the skins are crisp, the meat so tender it falls off the bone, and the flavor sweet and smoky, with a hint of heat.  Reminiscent at once of Vietnam and the old South, they seem a likely 'instant classic.'

Since I'd finished my DT by the time the wings arrived, I dove back into the beer list.  Our server suggested another Belgian offering, Orval Trappist -- a bottle-conditioned ale brewed by the monks of Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval.  Its flavor was a little darker and richer than the DT's -- perhaps a little smokier, even.

Orval gives good head.  There, I said it.

It got along famously with the wings, and also -- when we moved into the pizza phase -- with the sausage pizza.  As we dined, I also noticed happily that my particular bottle of Orval was bottled on my birthday:

...in the standard Euro-Date format.

Tonight's crust was a little less perfect than Saturday's (only in that it was a bit thinner than would be ideal for the support of the balance of ingredients) -- however, the pizza was still excellent.  The surprising combination of sausage, red peppers, and broccoli (Broccoli?  On pizza?  Oh, yes!) came off flawlessly.  Had the broccoli been over- or undercooked, it wouldn't have worked, but the 850-degree oven just wakes up the flavor and tenderizes it a tad.  DD and I polished off the pie between the two of us.

As we worked our way slowly through our meal, we conversed with our neighbors at the long European-style pub table: a pair of Louisvillians who had, it turned out, lived in my home state of Connecticut for a bit, then returned.  They told us about a friend of theirs in Chicago, artist Dana Major Kanovitz, whose sculptural works are at once strange and ethereal.  We hope to catch some of her work when we're in Chicago at the end of the month.

A serving of classic Southern-style frozen-custard completed our meal.  It made a perfect complement to the wings and pizza -- a light, fresh, palette-cleansing desert, neither too big nor too small.

With drinks, dinner, and desert, our tab totaled $74.02.  Not cheap, but worth it -- and we both left the table feeling like we might burst (I was also seriously tipsy, but that's neither here nor there).

Of course, you may be wondering what this all has to do with bikes, and why I'm writing about it here.

Well, look forward in the future to a Pizza, Beer, and Cobbles ride in honor of next year's Ronde de Vlaanderen.  And, indeed, probably before then, since I'm a seriously impatient individual and waiting like three months for the wings about used up all the patience I have for the next couple of years.

Announcement forthcoming :)

I didn't think to note this last night.  While our tab came to $74.02 last night, the meal was on the house as a function of its being part of Garage's testing process.  The goal was to gather critical feedback -- both the positive and the negative points -- so I shared my thoughts with KH as well.  Now I have to go ride my bike like an idiot a Belgian.  Does it even get this hot in Belgium?

* I made a pact with myself: I could have two Belgian beers if I get up and ride like a Belgian tomorrow.  I may yet live to regret that.
**My apologies for KL for the typo.  I have known for months these would be turkey wings and not chicken wings.  Need I state that a plate of these guys and a salad would feed a family of four (though not a family of four hungry cyclists just back from a hot 65-miler).

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