Ok, I admit it. I am a geek. This fact is evidenced by, but not limited to, the following: I love to watch British Sci-Fi shows like Dr. Who and Torchwood; I recently purchased the original Star Wars soundtrack – on vinyl; I think Joss Whedon is brilliant; and I really wish I had tickets to Comic-Con last weekend.
My geekiness extends, of course, to my choice in novels, with authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Adams, and J.K. Rowling occupying prominent places on my bookshelf. Naturally, I have eagerly awaited the movie version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince pretty much since the book was published. Having re-read Half-Blood Prince, the story was fresh in my mind, and I was ready to see these beloved characters on screen. My plan was to see the film in its opening week at Alamo Drafthouse, because – as I’ve mentioned many times before – a pint of beer makes everything better.
I missed the infamous Hobbit Feast which accompanied the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so I was more than thrilled to find out about the Hogwarts Academy Feast to be presented with the screening of Half-Blood Prince. The five course meal was inspired by the start of term feast enjoyed by Hogwarts students at the beginning of each book.
While I adore Alamo Drafthouse for their admirable beer list and usual fare, I was slightly apprehensive when I saw the menu for the Feast. I was unsure how a kitchen which always produces such great pizza and fries would handle a terrine. After a gracious welcome from Chef John Bullington, the room turned dark and our first course arrived.
Course 1: Chilled Leek Soup paired with Wychwood WychCraft Blonde Beer
Although I am not a fan of chilled soups, the leek soup had a nice flavor and smooth texture. The winning element of this course, however, was the fantastic WychCraft Blonde beer from the English brewery, Wychwood. The pale golden blonde, with its fresh citrus aroma and light hop flavor, is my new favorite summer beer.
Course 2: Cauliflower & Carrot Terrine paired with Fuller’s London Pride Ale
A good terrine, vegetable or meat, can showcase some very complex flavors, and is a welcome addition to any meal. Unfortunately, the flavors in cauliflower and carrot terrine were overpowered by the mustard vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was so strong that I could smell the vinegar as the servers walked down the aisles with the dish. Again, the winning element of this course was the beer accompaniment.
Course 3: Scallop-Mushroom Pie paired with Step Rd. Black Wing Chardonnay, Barossa
I was pretty excited about this dish after Chef John mentioned the mushrooms: morels and chanterelles. Because we rarely, if ever, come across fresh morels in Texas, I assumed the chef used dried ones. They were small but good and complemented the chanterelles nicely. This dish was a different take on the traditional shepherd’s pie, made with scallops instead of lamb, and topped with mashed potatoes. Despite the slightly gritty scallops, it was my overall favorite course of the evening. The wine pairing, however, was less than desirable. The chardonnay, with its buttery peach and melon tones, was too heavy for a dish with delicate flavors.
Course 4: Roast Pheasant Supreme paired with Campion Pinot Noir, Los Carneros
The main course held two big highlights for me: the bacon and the wine pairing. The tender and flavorful roast pheasant was wrapped in bacon, which came from local farmer’s market pork bellies and then cured in-house by Chef John. It was perfect. The buttery potato-stilton gratin and savory Cumberland sauce added excellent contrasting flavors. The other highlight of this course was the Campion Pinot Noir, which perfectly complement the wide range of flavors offered in this dish. My favorite pinots hail from the Carneros region in California’s North Coast, and this one is at the top of my list.
Course 5: Bramble-Berry Pudding paired with LoDuca Lambrusco
By the time we got to the last course, I was pretty full, but I’m a big sucker for dessert. I had never tried an English pudding – which, depending on where you are, could be a variety of different desserts. This one was stuffed with several types of berries and served with a lavender cream, and it was perfect end to a long, delicious meal. Although I am not a fan of sweet wines, this lambrusco paired well with the fruity dessert.
The movie itself was great, but I’ll leave the review to the movie critics. I go to Alamo Drafthouse for the full experience: the funny pre-show entertainment, beer from a local brewery, sharing a big basket of fries with my companions, and of course, a great movie. Eating in the dark is not a small feat, but I highly recommend the Drafthouse next time you are looking for more than just a night out at the movies.