POPSUGAR Celebrity

Tails and Ales: Where Belgian Beers Meet Louisiana Crawfish

Jun 24 2010 - 3:30pm

Between the Voltaggio brothers lunch [1] and the grand tasting tents [2], we enjoyed a lot of good food last weekend in Aspen [3]. However, the highlight, by far, was an amazing six-course crawfish lunch, prepared by the master of New Orleans cuisine, Chef John Besh. Thanks to his appearances on the Next Iron Chef [4] and Top Chef Masters [5], I was pretty familiar with the chef's cooking style.

What I wasn't prepared for was one of the most delicious and memorable meals of my life. Here you'll get a look at the lunch, which was paired with beer and properly titled Tails and Ales.

The lunch took place beside the pool of the Sky hotel [6], where, conveniently, we were staying!

Instead of having a bar, ice buckets were placed in the middle of each table. As a party favor, guests were given a Stella bottle opener. If you wanted a cold beer, you simply opened one at the table! It was fun.

Chef John Besh and his crew drove the crawfish to Aspen from Louisiana. He was promoting his new television show, Inedible to Incredible [7], which debuted earlier this week.

The food was paired with Stella [8], Hoegaarden [9], and Leffe beers [10]. Master beer sommelier Marc Stroobandt was on hand to teach us the proper way to pour beer. You start by pouring straight into the glass, then, when it's half full, tilt the glass to create a thick layer of foam.

The first course, South Louisiana crawfish boil "en gelée," was an amuse presented in a dainty eggshell with edible flowers. The top layer was a creamy mousse, but as I dug down into the shell I was delighted to find corn and crawfish. It was the perfect amuse because it hinted at the meal to come and left me craving more.

Next up was a Stella-battered soft-shell crawfish po-boy. With its Asian undertones and light crispy crawfish, this sandwich was scrumptious.

The third course, a French crawfish boil with cream, tarragon, and fresh truffle, was messy. However, I didn't mind, I enjoyed cracking the tails open and eating the succulent meat.

A rich crawfish bisque was served in an adorable little mason jar alongside heads that were stuffed with breaded crawfish. The crawfish stuffing was thick and savory, and I wished there were more than just three heads on my plate.

Cane lacquered Berkshire pork belly was topped with Louisiana crawfish tails that tasted a lot like shrimp. It was an alternative but tasty take on surf and turf.

The final course was crispy veal sweetbreads paneé with crawfish, sweet peas, and two artichoke puree. While I would never in a million years dream of combining these ingredients, they came together spectacularly. The choke puree was so good I wanted to lick the plate.

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