Cooperstown, NY: Outstanding Beer Dinner at Brewery Ommegang with Ric Orlando – Part 2 [Hell Dinner]

(Continued from Part 1…)

At this point the wait staff brought out something I wish was sitting on the table the whole night: salted habeneros. This was a simple mix of salt, vinegar, and habeneros ready to kick up any dish that needed a little lot of kick. I put just a spoonful in my mouth and while I had spent the rest of the night determined that I wasn’t going to need a drink of water, I had to break down and take a gulp. This was exactly was I needed on the Tie Dye Pie!

The fourth course was the one I was looking forward to least: Espresso-Habanero Glazed Escargot, Tortelloni, and Edamame paired with the Ommegang Abbey Ale. I’m not a big fan of molluscs of any form (I can sometimes choke them down with a little lubrication from some melted butter, but beyond that, no thanks). They just look… slimey. With a little encouragement from my tablemates, I chowed down. OK, not nearly as bad I expected. And with the habanero sauce, I cleared the plate. I’m not saying I would go out of my way to order this again, but this has definitely squashed me fear of snails and if they end up in front of me I won’t mind tackling them again.

The fifth course was the one I was looking forward to the most. I mean, it had “Harissa from Hell” in the title. After Googling what the hell harissa was, I couldn’t wait to try a ghost chili version. This was served with Lamb Shank Tagine paired with Art of Darkness, the only beer on the menu I haven’t had yet. Expectations were high for this course. But the thing about the harissa is that it has a ton of different ingredients and spices in it, not just ghost chilies. So after having the salted habeneros, this seemed tame as well. So I piled on the habeneros, obviously! This dish “kicked up” was pretty damn good.

At this point of the night the Chef took his coat off and hung out at the table, to have some beers and BS, which was totally cool. (Yes, his shirt says “Got Dim Sum?”. Totally badass.) We finished the meal with a little dessert: Mocha Chipotle Glazed Chocolate Cupcake, White Chocolate Dipped Serrano Chile and Mole Truffle Pot du Chocolate paired with Three Philosophers. I don’t remember a cupcake, but I do remember a Chinese soup spoon filled with chocolate topped with whipped cream with ghost chili flakes. Chocolate and chili go together so well. It’s one of the reasons I like Cigar City’s Hunahpu so much (which would have paired incredibly with dessert, btw). All of this was amazing, except the serrano. This was the hottest thing we tasted all night. I don’t even know why this was. Serrano’s aren’t even that hot. But I took one bite and threw in the towel and I was not the only one. Many did not even touch the thing. I don’t blame ‘em.

I can’t get over how good this dinner and the night as a whole was. Ommegang’s new digs are beautiful and was the perfect setting for a dinner like this. I can’t wait to go back (for BCTC and Darius Rucker). Chef Ric Orlando puts on such an amazing spread and is such a good storyteller he provided the meal and the entertainment for the night. If you’ve never gone to one of his New World locations, stop what you’re doing and do so immediately. And if you’re smart, you’ll keep an eye out on the Great Beer Deserves Great Food Blog and make sure you hit up the next event.

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