Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Goose Island Brewer Teams Up with Chef from L20 for Odd Pairs Fest

Jared Rouben, head brewer at Goose Island brewpubs, and Emiliano Pimentel Morado, Line Cook at L2O, an upscale Lincoln Park eatery from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, became friends as classmates at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York City. Bound initially by an appreciation of food, Rouben, a professed "wine and beer lover" ultimately moved in another direction in his restaurant career, which began with "an addiction to home production" - and a lot of training at downtown Chicago's Rock Bottom Brewery.

The former classmates have recently discovered a unique avenue for combining their friendship as well as their respective culinary/brewing skills. Odd Pairs is a distinctive quarterly event hosted by Chicago’s Crop to Cup Coffee Company and Bean and Body, conceived, according to the competition's FaceBook page, "to highlight local businesses in Chicago that are doing original...things." Entrants are encouraged to concoct "strange, yet succulent combinations of local flavors, served up socially. We headline chefs on the edge, pushing the envelope on flavor, talent and skill in tandem with sustainability and green practices guiding their businesses."

Crop to Cup is no stranger to Goose Island Brewpubs. While coffee and beer might seem like strange bedfellows to the casual observer, Rouben is currently working with the eco-conscious java producers on a specialty beer, the "Rind Grind," which blends JuJu espresso and lemon peel into a dark stout. I was able to sample this blend during a recent tour of the Goose Island at North and Clybourn. Though neither a regular beer nor coffee drinker, I found myself overcome with the allure of such a novelty, and drank it down in one gulp.

Rouben and Morado believe that for the next Odd Pairs event, to be held privately on Friday, March 26, 2010 they have come up with a showstopper. As Rouben labels it, the duo's Italian ice creation is "L2O, Goose Island style." While the team, naturally, cannot divulge the exact measurements of the ingredients, they are able to take advantage of L2O's giant distiller to produce a thought-provoking, nonalcoholic treat comprised of the following three elements:

1. Goose Island Granita with shaved black lime, sweet citrus emulsion, and edible flowers from chef's garden

2. Triple Distilled Goose Island "Green Line" Mist

3. Cinnamon and citrus-infused hot wort tea

Having been unavailable at press time for a final taste test, the staff at Jettison Quarterly can neither confirm nor deny the deliciousness of this intriguing new variety of Italian ice. Readers will have to follow our blog [insert link] after March 26 for the results of the Odd Pairs judging.

Although Rouben acknowledges that the quarterly event "is a competition," he goes onto to declare that "for us, it isn't about that." For Rouben and Morado, the opportunity to create something new and share it with the culinary community at large, is simply another worthy celebration of food and friendship.

Check out the Odd Pairs blog at http://oddpairs.wordpress.com/

-By Jettison corespondent Becky Sarwate

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