Patrón Secret Dining Society – just an awesome experience
A few weeks ago I was at lunch with some co-workers when I received an email of particular interest. The subject line read: “words words words Patrón Secret Dining Society words words words.”
Those four magic words were ones that I never imagined I would read.
The Patrón Secret Dining Society is part of the Patrón Social Club. They do pop-up dinners with local chefs and mixologists. The selected few that attend receive little details about the event except for the date and instructions to wait for an email that will come the day prior to the event.
Our event was a great blank slate for mixologist Aaron Joseph, and Chef Patrick Fanning. Aaron Joseph is a mixologist working for the Baltimore Four Seasons hotel. His task was to take the Patrón Tequila lineup and pair it with the award winning dishes from Chef Patick Fanning. Fanning is a well known Chef with a long history in the Baltimore-Washington area. Currently he is the Partner Owner/Chef of Cambridge Eateries who has a number of dining and catering establishments on Maryland’s Eastern Shore including High Spot Gastopub in Cambridge.
For this, the 26th installment of the Patrón Secret Dining Society, we were told to meet at the Mariott Hotel near Oriole Park at Camden Yards at 6:15 p.m. sharp. After arriving we all awaited a text message from Patrón. However, in my case it never came. I later found out that they had been experiencing some technical difficulties. Since I had received no direction I blindly followed the group of people quizzically looking at their cell phones and walking across the street.
On the other side of the street I saw people beginning to queue up to a Purple Baltimore Trolley. I watched as they got on the bus, being check for their credentials. Since I had no idea what the text message said, I was a little nervous I would be able to continue my Secret Dining Society experience.
As it turned out they were only checking to make sure our names were on the list, and that we had completed our media release waiver we had been sent the day prior. I was certainly relieved.
Our bus ride, was one that under normal circumstances would have lasted about two minutes. But thanks to the extensive road closures with the Baltimore Grand Prix, the ride would take more than 10 minutes.
In hindsight, this was a small price pay for the experiences that awaited us.
When we arrived at our secret location, we immediately saw a group of cocktail tables topped with table clothes reminiscent of the American flag, flanking the Babe Ruth museum on the other side of the side street. A jazz trio serenaded us as we approached the tables. No sooner did we arrive, then servers started appearing from all sides with trays of cocktails and fine hor d’oeuvres.
If you haven’t already asked yourself this question by now I would be surprised. Isn’t this supposed to be a beer blog? Or Isn’t this guy the beer writer? Truth be told, I am not much of a cocktail person, but I do like a broad spectrum of fermented and distilled beverages. Bourbon and Tequila are almost as beloved as beer.
As the first server approached holding a tray of cocktails adorned with crab claws clutching Cantaloupe balls. I was intrigued, and I also felt mildly out of my element. The first drink was a Chesapeake Rickey. A cocktail comprised of Patrón Silver Tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice, and a house made cantaloupe old bay syrup. This drink was complex, yet light and refreshing. Some of the attendees felt they could not taste the Old Bay, but it was there.
When we Baltimoreans are given Old Bay we are used to be slapped in the face with it, instead this was presented a hidden spice made to take a back seat to the other components.
Right behind the delivery of this cocktail was another server bringing out hor d’oeuvres. First to arrive was an Oyster Ceviche. The light Rice Wine Ceviche went nicely with the Chesapeake Rickey, and the Choptank Raised Oyster was a pleasant finally. Although I found that the Oysters had been washed a little too well, and didn’t carry the seawater flavor I like with my Oysters.
Next up was a Negroni Fictional. Made with Patrón Silver Tequila, Grapefruit Aperitif, Lillet Rose, topped with Prosecco. This drink was quite wonderful. It was a bit stronger, but in a very pleasant way. At the bottom of the glass, was something that caused quite a bit of confusion. There were small white balls, that no one seemed to know what they were. Until we finally asked one of the servers, and found out it was Caviar.
The servers kept delivering more and more drinks and food. They brought us Kobe Beer Tartar, that was made with A5 Filet Mignon. It was served with Chef Patrick’s Kiamichi Vinaigrette and Duck Hollandaise. Delicious. They also delivered Lobster Pops made with a Patrofn infused Beer Batter on Lobster tail with Lobster cream and Flying Fish Roe.
While at the Babe Ruth museum we were invited inside to enjoy the air conditioning and a short video showing the care and craftsmanship that goes into each bottle of Patrón. Then we were off to our next locale for dinner.
Our hostesses from Patrón holding the Racing Finish Flags led us on to the track for the upcoming Baltimore Grand Prix. At this point we were greeted by members of Patrón’s Extreme Speed Motorsports Team.
About this time is when we heard a distant rumble of a American Le Mans prototype car that was coming toward us. This was an amazing entrance, and we soon found out that the driver was a member of the Extreme Speed Motorsports Team, and was Patrón’s very own President Ed Brown.
Our walk to dinner continued, with a trip down Eutaw Street through Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and then to the Baltimore Grand Prix’s pit row. Then finally to our final destination in front of the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards.
Our dining table was a great combination of racing and tequila. With table decorations including floral arrangements in Patrón’s hand blown tequila bottles, and models of the race cars that would be used in the upcoming race.
Chef Patrick Fanning had prepared a four-couse meal to highlight Aaron Joseph’s cocktails. Or was it the other way around? Doesn’t matter. It was awesome.
First out were Carmelized Scallops with Creme Brule, Habera Pearls and Clipped Greens. This was paired with a “Hun Punch” made with Patrón Resposado. The Creme Brule sweetness was an interesting companion to the scallops. The refeshing “Hun Punch” was great way to cut through the sweetness.
Our next drink was a Margarita of sorts called “Shore On My Mind.” This Patrón Reposado Margarita was made with Patrón Reposado infused with Sweet Corn, Lemon Juice, and a Cilantro infused Agave Syrup. This drink was very interesting. I was really surprised how strong the corn flavor was. This was paired with Patrón Poached OC Black Bass with Wasabi Foam and Spicy Pistachios. While very good this was my least favorite course of the evening.
While the 2nd course wasn’t my favorite, it was followed by what turned out to be my favorite course. First Aaron Joseph presented us with a twist on a classic Manhattan. Named “A Peache for Old Times” it was made with Peach Infused Patrón Añejo, Peche di Vigne, Amaro Nonino, Peychads Bitters, Angostura Bitters, and a Mushroom Ice Ball. The Mushroom Ice Ball was made from a Mushroom stock and then frozen into a sphere about 3 inches in diameter. As the Mushroom Ice Ball melted it imparted a earthy nuance that slowly altered and added complexity to the drink.
This was served with a Peppered Wild Boar Rib Chop. Wow. Served with Grilled Peach and Morel Salad, 3 Lions Patrón Añejo Jus and Roaster Serrano. This was an incredible course. I had never had Wild Boar before, and I really found it enjoyable. It had the same texture of pork, but the richness of bison, and the color was similar to lamb. Absolutely delicious.
Our final course was a dessert course. White Chocolate Fourless Tort with Butter Toffee Pecan Carmel Drops, Orange Rind Compote, and Tahitian Vanilla Cream. All served with a “Flipping Charming” (Charm City, get it?) made with Patrón XO Cafe, Pluot Puree, Hazelnut Liqueur, and an egg. This was all served on a square plate with raised barriers to quarter the plate into four parts. This was a fun desert, that encouraged mixing the different parts. It seemed that both the Tort and Orange Compote wanted to be paired with the Vanilla Cream.
I could not have had a better time than I had at this wonderful event. I was lucky enough to be seated across from the President of Patrón, Ed Brown, who’s as engaging as anyone you’ll ever meet, and one who leads a life with his passions. I really hope that if Patrón returns to Baltimore again, I will once again have the opportunity to attend.
If you want to have the chance to be invited a Patrón Secret Dining Society event in your town, I encourage you to sign up for the Patrón Social Club at patronsocialclub.com
John Thompson is a beer enthusiast who began evangelizing craft beer a few years ago on his blog thehoplocal.com. John has been homebrewing sporadically for almost 20 years, and also is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. When not enjoying a cold malty beverage you will find John spending time with his spouse and two young children or working his day job in Financial Services Technology. Make sure to find John on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @TheHopLocal and Untapped. at : http://untappd.com/user/thehoplocal