With the Five Chef Societe II – Ducktales dinner, the Handlery Hotel returned to craft beer events with a bang. The second annual beer pairing meal was even more impressive than the first and left the lucky ticket purchasers delighted and satiated. If it wasn’t clear from the title, every dish was made with duck for this event.
The Handlery excels in managing private events and this was no exception. From decorating to professional, courteous service, this hotel displays a level professionalism that’s difficult to compete with. Your ticket to the event got you your first pint of unbelievable Societe Brewing craft beer, appetizers, five courses of delicious duck dishes prepared by some of the best chefs our city has to offer and beer tasters of the recommended pairings.
Who were the chefs you ask? For the appetizers, Matt Morrison from Stone Liberty Station prepared duck sausage and duck prosciutto. I have to tell you this prosciutto was world class; he did have help from his friend to cure the meat. I kept going back into the kitchen for scraps and even lucked into taking some home, which survived less than 24 hrs.
First course came from the Handlery’s own Karl Prohaska. He prepared a duck consomme bocuse, a light pastry, that when broken through revealed a delightful, deeply flavorful soup. This was a perfect way to start a marathon meal like Duck Tales; paired with the Harlot from Societe, this crisp, refreshing Belgian is the perfect way to start any night.
The second course was prepared by Hanis Cavin from Carnita’s Snack Shack. A crispy duck thigh with what he called a “French tofu” croquet in a savory sauce. If you can’t figure out what the tofu is, email me and I’ll explain. The first hearty dish of the meal happily warmed my stomach up for the more filling dishes to come.
Following that we moved on to Daniel Barron from La Valencia Hotel. Breast roulade, wrapped in duck thigh, topped with duck bacon, sitting in sauce baths made from persimmon and kabocha. This dish wins the presentation award of the night. Beautifully plated, while delivering incredibly balanced flavors, this was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.
After a welcomed intermission it was Matt Richman’s, from Table 926, turn. A scotch duck egg with a hearty duck leg supported by plenty of “French tofu” cream sauce. The amazing scotch egg has etched a place in my mind that will not soon be forgotten. That egg was my favorite item of the night, even beating out, barely, the duck prosciutto. The richness of the sauce matched with the duck leg extremely well and being paired with Societe’s highest touted beer, the Pupil, had the flavor strength to stand up to what may be the best IPA in our city.
Although Rich Sweeney from R-Gang Eatery supposedly got stuck with desert he delivered an extraordinary treat. Duck fat fried beignets with burnt orange creme filling topped with smoked duck dust and duck bacon crumbles. A terrific conclusion to an exceptional meal; encompassing sweet, savory and richness in each bite. I completely agree with the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival selecting him Chef of the Festival for this dish.
Attempting to summarize this event in a few words would be insulting to the excellence I was lucky enough to experience. The dishes were prepared by extremely talented chefs from the best ingredients on earth. The chefs all had fun, the kitchen had an air of laughter and joy the entire night. The 950 Lounge at the hotel was decorated and setup wonderfully. The staff managed the event skillfully and service was wonderful. The customers had a great night and all I spoke with seemed thrilled with the outcome.
I’m left with with visions of prosciutto, scotch eggs, “French tofu”, and welcoming the Handlery Hotel back to hosting craft beer events with open arms in my mind; this was truly an phenomenal night!