Beer was the focus during dinner at José Andrés’ Washington, D.C. restaurant Zaytinya, noted for its Turkish, Lebanese and Greek cuisine, on Feb. 11. Decanters filled with Hellenic wine were temporarily set aside to make way for local craft beers from the capital’s very own DC Brau. Executive Chef Michael Costa constructed the five-course menu that was paired with five distinct signature ales from the brewery with each dish highlighting the unique character of its match. Costa mingled with guests and explained his preference for using flavor harmony rather than contrast to showcase the variety of DC Brau products. What resulted was a happy marriage between the Zaytinya kitchen and Brau’s brews. Also in attendance were DC Brau CEO and Co-Founder Brandon Skall and co-owner–brewmaster Jeff Hancock who guided guests through the tasting and explained the production process behind each of their fizzy creations.
Dinner started with two bite-sized starters — a single fried mussel served in a spoon on a fluffy bed of garlic yogurt and a juicy mouthful of beef kibbeh nayyeh smeared between two paper-thin slices of spicy radish. Both of these paired well with a frosty glass of Model Citizen American Cream Ale. The brew’s round, buttered biscuit flavors provided a great alternative to the classic bread basket.
Next came a carpaccio of salt cod. Thin but juicy slices of fish were laid over a creamy potato skordalia — a thick purée flavored with crushed garlic and vinegar — which is a traditional accompaniment to cod in Greek cuisine. Cubes of local root vegetables, most notably spicy kohlrabi, were sprinkled over the top. The dish was served with a glass of The Citizen Belgian Ale and its powerful hop added a spicy note that harmonized well with the salt cod and garlicky skordalia. The beer was packed with flavor, yet stayed relatively light in body so as not to overpower the delicate textures highlighted in the dish.
A heartier course was the Papiatopita, house-made phyllo wrapped around braised duck meat and foie gras and fried golden brown. The duck-roll was served on a tender mound of braised wild greens (traditionally referred to as horta in Greek cooking), which tasted of garlic, minerals, and tannin. This dish needed a beer with a backbone and that is just what it got — a glass of DC Brau’s world class Imperial IPA, On the Wings of Armageddon. The latter was intensely hoppy with a mounting bitterness that complemented the woodsy flavors of the greens and the richness of duck Papiatopita very well.