For one of my last Houston Beer Week events, I mixed it up and attended a mead dinner put on by The Modular food truck, Grand Prize Bar and Redstone Meadery out of Boulder, Colorado, I wrote a little preview with more background information, you can check it out here.
This was a very unique dinner experience; the group of 25 or so sat at a huge community table that they brought to the upstairs of Grand Prize specifically for the dinner. Lyle and Joshua, the guys from The Modular food truck, paraded their dishes around before preparing the individual plates, truly proud of their selections of protein. From one bucket of beef bones and one of turkey legs to two suckling pigs, we definitely weren’t leaving hungry! This was also my first time to ever try mead, I was expecting every glass to be full of a very heavy, sweet liquid, but I was wrong. Almost none of them were cloyingly sweet, except for the last mead, the 2003 Boysenberry mead that was sticky and thick like syrup. On the contrary, they were like heavy champagnes, dry with a touch of sweetness, and as they are made from honey, that flavor was predominant in almost every glass.
Bone Marrow, with Smoked Eel Toast and Parsley Salad
Paired with Redstone Black Raspberry Nectar, 8% ABV.
Bone marrow is so rich, salty, and buttery, so the dry, sweet mead paired well with the huge trough. The parsley salad and toast made a great sandwich-like vehicle to get more bone marrow to my face. This was definitely a decadent way to get the dinner started.
Turkey Leg Cassoulet
Paired with Redstone Traditional Honey Mead, 12%
I had the chance to have Duck leg cassoulet (bean stew) when Lyle was at Feast and this was basically a replication of that, but with huge turkey legs. The Turkey was tender and fatty, a classic “medieval” protein dish paired with Redstone’s classic mead, a great combination.
Bone-In Roast Beef, with Yorkshire Pudding
Paired with Redstone Juniper Mead, 12% ABV
Next was the roast beef dish, served with a side of mashed rutabaga and a salad. The rutabaga was very creamy and buttery, with a nice earthy element that complemented the mead and the super fatty, rich roast beef. This mead was very different from the previous ones, Redstone added juniper berries during fermentation and it is made with two kinds of honey- orange blossom and desert blossom. The juniper provided a spiced, piney flavor to the mead that was very different.
Whole Roasted Pig, with Roasted Root Vegetables.
Paired with Redstone Sunshine Nectar (Apricot Mead), 8%
Finally the course I was most excited about, the pork. Originally this was going to be the third course, but they wanted to give the piglets proper time in the caja (roasting box). After Lyle used a big machete to “butcher” the roasted pig, he asked the group if they wanted any special cuts, and then passed the head around for people to get cheek meat and brains. I definitely grabbed some cheek meat to go with whatever else they piled on my plate. The skin of the pig could have been a bit crispier, but the meat was tender and flavorful. The root vegetables on the plate were definitely an afterthought for me, but balanced out the slightly sweet characteristic of the apricot mead with a nice roasted earthy flavor.
Sticky Toffee Pudding, with Vanilla-Cinnamon Mead Ice Cream.
Paired with Redstone Boysenberry Reserve 2003, 13% ABV
Like I noted earlier, this was my least favorite mead, it was entirely too sweet and had the viscosity of cough syrup. The dessert, however, was killer. The ice cream made with mead was sweet but the vanilla and cinnamon helped keep it from being overwhelming. The sticky toffee pudding was moist and the toffee sauce was rich and complemented the cake well.
The atmosphere of the dinner was an experience in itself, beside trying mead for the first time and having a protein feast that kept me full for the next day and a half. I loved how excited the Modular guys were to share their passion for cooking and the fun of butchering the meat with us. They made a special effort to give the dinner a medieval vibe, from serving the bone marrow on broken wooden pickets to the old-looking, burned-edges menu, they made it feel special. The best and probably strangest part of the night was our “gift”, the knife we used to eat with all night was ours to keep. I’m not sure I’ve ever been given a gift at any dinner, much less a sharp utensil, definitely a nice touch.
I hope The Modular guys take on another challenge like this, but with beer!