Last night, the Dutch concluded their summer series Bourbon, Beer, and Cue with a three-way Caja China battle that invited Aaron Brooks (Edge Steak & Bar) and Jeremiah Bullfrog (gastroPod) to the W's grove backyard courtyard for a magical evening that included whole animals and bacon-infused bourbons under the stars.
Andrew Carmellini, or A.C. as he is called by his staff, roamed around as the event's formal host while executive chef Conor Hanlon manned his lamb and did the cooking. Short Order was invited to attend the finale of the series, bringing the third consecutive year of Bourbon, Beer and Cue to a successful wrap.
This year, Hanlon invited fellow chefs to collaborate with him on a weekly basis. Jamie DeRosa, Brad Kilgore, The Dutch's Levi Raines, and James Seyba all joined him in the previous weeks that led up to last night's feast. Each week has a different theme, including the famed Korean BBQ led by sous chef Levi Raines. "We're really proud of our Korean BBQ here," says Hanlon. "It's been three years and people keep eating it up, so we love to make it."
The chef says this year's series has been a lot better overall due to the collaboration aspect and inviting his boys over to cook with him in the Grove garden. "Yeah, it's hot. It's summer," he says. "But that's what we have the punch and beer for."
A cash cocktail bar served Dutch gingers, bacon-smoked BBQ old-fashioneds, pimm's cup punch bowls, $2 PBR tall boys and $3 Tecate's. What's BBQ without some beer or bourbon to go with it?
An Aussie lamb in America.
We'll take that whole lamb and raise you a leg of lamb.
Hanlon and his whole animal. You'd think that Aaron Brooks would be the one cooking this fellow, but turns out The Dutch's Hanlon took care of the lamb. The winner of the Australian Lamb's first annual Miami Spring Fling, Hanlon won a 18-day trip to Australia to learn about how lamb is raised in the land down under and hopefully incorporate that more in the States.
"It's funny cause Brooksy invited me to compete in this lamb thing and everyone thought he was going to win because he's Australian and was going to get to go home and see his family," says Hanlon. "My friends all made fun and told me I needed to apologize, so I had to say sorry to Brooksy." The two hugged it out right then and there.
Hanlon served his lamb in pockets with a harissa BBQ rub and a cucumber mint raita.
Some chilled couscous with Turkish apricots to go on the side.
Aaron Brooks hauled his Caja China over from Edge. Inside it, a hip of Creekstone Farms beef and mesquite-smoked beef belly. How do you hold up a colossal leg of beef? An engine hoist, duh. As Brooksy sliced the beef and served int on your plate, he also took the liberty of squirting some Carolina BBQ style sauce to pair with it. Mustard-based with cayenne and other goodness, it was finger-licking good and worth drinking from the bottle. "The word battle should be replaced with the word fun," said Brooks. "This isn't a battle. This is cooking up a feast with my good friends." So pretty much, a great way to spend a Wednesday night.
Some fried okra with Edge hot sauce was another favorite.
Creamy kale slaw was solid and a different take on kale than anything we've seen lately.
Why Jeremiah Bullfrog spent the past three days with this little piggie -- brining it for two and cooking it since 1 p.m. yesterday to have it ready for the night's festivities. He also had a secret stow of pulled pork to go along with his whole hog.
Slow-cooked cabbage and sweet potato to go along with pig parts.
A dessert station cranked out rocky road sundae's like clockwork.
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Not your typical rocky road sundae. This one has mint whipped cream, fluffed marshmallow, brownie bites, candied almonds, and macerated cherries. It's the all American dream.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha