There are few things more pleasant on a
summer day than sitting outdoors with the sun beating down on
your head, an ice-cold beer in your hand, and a plate of good
food in front of you.
Trumping that would be drinking many glasses of artisanal beer and sampling signature dishes from 20 of Brooklyn’s finest dining establishments.
On Saturday, June 7, from noon to 4 pm, the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg, in conjunction with the New York chapter of the American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF), invites diners to the fourth annual "Critic’s Choice Summer Beer and Food Festival." Twenty Brooklyn restaurants and 25 domestic and international breweries will participate.
"We started this event with a dozen restaurants," said Tom Potter, CEO of the Brooklyn Brewery and the chapter chair of AIWF-NY. "This year, we have 20 restaurants participating.
"The Brooklyn restaurant scene is so much more exciting now. [Only] interesting restaurants that have been favorably reviewed by food critics were asked to take part," he said. "Some are new to Brooklyn’s restaurant scene; others are old-timers.
"All the restaurants serve beer-friendly food," he said, describing the occasion as his "favorite of all the events at the brewery because it focuses on Brooklyn, and I’m very proud of Brooklyn."
The food selected must be of the highest quality to pair with the Brooklyn Brewery’s award-winning beers.
Marc Elliot, owner and chef of the Whim Oyster Bar in Cobble Hill, one of this year’s participants, raved about Brooklyn Brewery’s products.
"You can taste the time they put into their beer. They do it right," he said. In addition to wine, Elliot serves only Brooklyn Brewery beer at Whim.
"They have Pilsner and chocolate stout and everything in between," said Elliot.
"We’re among the top 30 producers in the country, but we’re tiny compared to the larger ones," said Potter. Of the 41,000 barrels of beer that were produced at the brewery last year, much of it was small-batch, artisanal brews.
Dead-Heads should stop by Elliot’s table; his oysters on the half shell will be accompanied by sauces named for Grateful Dead songs. The "Mexicali" is made with hot, smoked and roasted Mexican chilies; "Friend of the Devil" is a spicy, Virgin Mary cocktail sauce; and "Stella Blue" features ginger pickled in blue curacao, sugar and vinegar.
The Chickenbone Cafe, a new Williamsburg restaurant serving "Brooklyn global cuisine," is also joining the event.
"The Brooklyn Brewery is our neighbor in Williamsburg and we want to support them," said Koki Wilson, one of the cafe’s managers. In keeping with the Brooklyn-themed cuisine, chef Zakary Pelaccio has chosen the ideal mate for beer: kielbasa bruschetta (chopped, spicy Polish sausage mixed with fresh dill and minced pickles served on toasted, white, country bread).
Adam Rose, chef of Soma, another of the brewery’s Williamsburg neighbors, and Daniel Ray, the restaurant’s manager, would like to become more active in Brooklyn-based activities.
"If Brooklyn Brewery is involved, it has to be worth doing," said Rose. Like Elliot, Rose offers only Brooklyn Brewery beer to his patrons. "We’re partial to their pilsner, lager and pale ale," he said.
On the day of the festival, Rose will treat festival attendees to an assortment of dishes from their menu. Known for their house-baked bread, Rose is contributing two dishes that make delicious use of his effort: pizza, either traditional tomato and cheese, or chipotle pepper; and barbecued pulled pork and steak salad sandwiches.
Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster-in-residence, will be on hand to sign copies of his new book, "The Brewmaster’s Table," (HarperCollins Publishers, May 2003).
If you haven’t followed up on all the great dining places in Brooklyn, June 7 is your chance to give 20 of them a try. Order your tickets in advance because everyone loves to be a critic, and the event sells out quickly.
The Critics Choice Summer Beer and Food Festival takes place at the Brooklyn Brewery (1 Brewers Row, 79 North 11th St. between Berry and Wythe streets) on June 7, from noon to 4 pm.
"Sneak Peak" entry for AIWF members at 11:30 am. Tickets are $40 for AIWF members or anyone purchasing tickets in advance, $50 at the door for non-members.
Tickets can be purchased in advance through www.ticketweb.com. For more information, call AIWF at (718) 229-6565.