Joe and I are both members of WABL, Washington Beer Lovers (I became a member not because I’m so crazy about beer, but because Joe couldn’t find his membership for an event and wanted the extra taste-tokens, so I signed up). Recently, through the organization, we found out about a special Belgian Beer Dinner to be held at the Corson Building in Seattle’s Georgetown area – the hippest, happening-ist craft beer spot in the state right now. It sounded like the perfect foodie and beer lover romantic date night, so I eagerly made reservations.
The Corson Building is a hundred-year-old Italian-style villa snuggling up against railroad tracks, a mortar-pitted alley (our little Jetta is still panting from the exertion of being pushed like a Humvee on our off-road search for a parking spot) and almost directly under a freeway off-ramp. But Friday night, once we passed through the charming wrought-iron gates, and the house twinkled at us enticingly, promising warmth and epicurean delights within, we breathed easier, and our hungry stomachs perked up in anticipation. When we pushed through the arched door, we were greeted with a sincere smile and a glass of Hop von Boorian from the sommelier, a plate of gourgeres warm from the kitchen and what was left of my Friday-afternoon-at-work-yecch evaporated with the first bite of fluffy, cheesy goodness.
The restaurant is small, but warm, with brick and stucco walls, more arched doors and windows, a lion-headed fireplace smack in the middle of the dining area, a step-down pantry area filled with cookbooks, bottles and clear jars filled with herbs I practically swooned over, and an Old Country kitchen filled with intriguing pots and smells. Lighting was soft and low, accented by white candles here and there. Seating was at three long tables of 10, with benches and chairs, serving was family-style on platters, the servers helpfully letting us know how much of each dish to take. Each of the five courses was beautifully paired with a Belgian-style local craft beer, and as a bonus the head brewers from Elysian and Pike were there partaking in the feast and talked a little about Belgian beers. To Joe the Homebrewer’s delight, one of the owners of Pike Brewing was also a guest, an eloquent man in bow-tie, responsible for the initial import of Belgian beers to the US some years back. Thank you, Charles!
The food was hearty, heavenly and decadent. We had the pleasure of sitting next to a quite entertaining couple – John, the husband, was a Tom Hanks look-a-like who has his own software company, and the wife, Ellen, was plucked from the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky; I found myself wanting to grab a pen and jot down all her colorful backwoods expressions, but there was no subtle way to manage it. When we were winding down the meal with the last course, slowly, yet valiantly, pushing our spoons through the densely rich dark beer spice cake topped with an incredible crème fraiche sorbet that’s sending shivers down my back as I type, Ellen leaned her trim little body back in her chair, manicured hand to her stomach, and said “My granddaddy would say he was ‘sufferin’ from comfort,’ that he had a ‘sufficiency.’”
When were in Paris for a week almost 10 years ago, we discovered the French have a word that describes the feeling your body gets when you’ve had too much rich food. I’ve had trouble tracking the actual word down, but if Joe’s memory serves me correctly, it’s something like “blehh.” When we got home a little after 11 that night, our bodies moving in slow motion from hours of pleasurable sensations, our bellies a bit distended, me grateful for my little stretchy black dress, we were definitely feeling blehh. Though, as we flopped onto the bed after kicking off our shoes, staring at the ceiling with sloppy, sated grins, we both agreed it was well worth it for a night, and that perhaps sufferin’ from comfort wasn’t so bad after all.