15 February, 2009


In Spanish, amada means "beloved," so it was fitting that HM and I celebrated Valentine's Day with dinner at Amada, chef José Garces' Spanish tapas restaurant in Old City Philadelphia.

Having been to Amada twice before, we were really looking forward to the meal, but this post on Foobooz added a new layer of interest for me: a chance to try Inedit, a beer from Spanish brewery Estrella Damm produced in collaboration with famed El Bulli chef Ferran Adrià.  It's described in the Garces press release as "a lager and Belgian wheat beer blend with hints of orange and spice."

At $30 for a 750mL bottle, or $7 for a 5 oz. glass, Inedit is priced lower than similar volumes of wine, but higher than Amada's other beers.  Naturally, I ordered a whole bottle.  The presentation was beautiful: the bottle is uniquely shaped, with a single gold star (estrella) on the front and a booklet hanging from a red string around the bottle's neck.  The beer, pale yellow and cloudy with a pillowy white head, is served in a white wine glass.

The taste - at first, anyway - was less impressive.  The beer was served very cold, as you would expect for a light lager.  But a Belgian-inspired brew?  That should be served at cellar temperature (55°F), which brings forward the aromatic spice aromas and fruity flavors associated with many Belgian beers.  As the meal progressed, the beer warmed up and so did the aromas and flavors.  

We embarked upon their special Valentine's tasting menu, which offered a few plates absent from the regular menu, including jamón ibérico de bellota, wagyu beef flatbread, olive oil poached halibut and a positively luxurious combination of sea urchin, bomba rice and scallop.  Dishes from the menu included a cheese plate, stuffed peppers, a lamb chop, and our favorite dish of the evening - pulpo a la gallego, Spanish octopus grilled with smoked paprika and lemon.  They served us so much food that we left with a bag full of leftovers.  Service was excellent and a reminder of why Amada is one of the city's best restaurants.
Back to the beer: it did go with all of the dishes, but not in the complementary way that a good beverage brings out subtle and new flavors, where the combination can be revelatory.  Even when it warmed up, Inedit always took a back seat to the food.  On its own, it's a perfectly acceptable beer.  But compared to a funky Belgian beer or a serious pilsner, it was really underwhelming given the internet hype and the breathless prose in the booklet ("Inedit is the first beer specifically created to accompany food...").  It's very cool that chef Garces has brought this rare beer to Pennsylvania, and I'm glad I tried it.  But I think next time I'll opt for some good Spanish wine.


Malachy said...

hm, two new "star" beers on the philly scene. is there some sort of shadow-y gold star lobby working behind the scenes?

Tim said...

Indeed, the gold star is as ubiquitous as the blue ribbon...