Pairing bites and beer

Mar. 04, 2014 @ 08:19 AM

The second annual Bull City Food & Beer Experience brings together the expertise of chefs and breweries for pairings of, as the name of the event states, food and beer. The Durham Performing Arts Center, Sam’s Quick Shop and Tyler’s Restaurant & Tap Room are collaborating to present the event on Sunday afternoon at DPAC.

Among the 30 restaurants and 50 breweries who will share samples are Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chef Jason Cunningham of Fairview said he was excited to be paired with Sierra Nevada, one of the first craft breweries to hit the stage nationwide in the 1990s, he said, which coincided with his college years. As of Monday afternoon, the menu item was still being decided. Fairview will share a table with Sierra Nevada, which is bringing its flagship pale ale and a small batch of beer so limited, Cunningham wasn’t able to sample it.
“Whatever we decide will be beer-friendly food,” Cunningham said. “You take distinct flavor notes paired up in some way with a dish we create,” he said, in the same way they pair wine and food. That might mean using the beer in the food recipe.
“You’ve got to be real careful with beer, it can turn bitter,” he said, so it’s better as a marinade. Fairview will showcase one dish, either something unique or a signature dish, he said.
Whatever they make, hundreds of people will taste it paired with Sierra Nevada. How much traffic a table gets can depend on where it is, he said. Every attendee may not get to every restaurant’s table.
“Thirty bites makes for a full belly,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said they participated last year. The event was a little disorganized, he said, but it was the first time so logistical details were still being worked out. It was still a great event to be part of, he said, and they’re glad to be back for the second year.
“It’s a tremendous tasting event,” Cunningham said, with breweries and “Durham’s finest restaurants.” He hopes he’ll have a spare half-hour during the event once things “steady out,” and he can take a break from the Fairview table he’ll run with a sous chef and a few other staff.
“The fun part of being a part of an event like this is being able to step away and socialize with other chefs and taste pairings yourself,” Cunningham said.
Along with Fairview, others from the long list of participating restaurants and craft/import breweries include Bull City Burger & Brewery, Dos Perros, Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse, Toast, Mateo, Vin Rouge, Nana Taco, Blu Seafood and Bar, SweetWater, Sam Adams, Terrapin, Heavy Seas, Deep River, Raleigh Brewing, Bull City, Triangle Brewing and New Belgium, plus several more.
Restaurants will be preparing 500 to 1,000 tastes of dishes to share, set up on tables on lobby floors while inside the performing arts center, the stage will be set for speakers and a performance by the bluegrass-inspired band Mipso. A panel discussion on North Carolina craft beer includes Sean Lily Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery, Robert Poitras of Carolina Brewery, Oscar Wong of Highland Brewery Co., T.L. Adkisson of Foothills Brewing and Ben Woodward of Haw River Farmhouse Ales. Also on stage, in addition to the food and beer pairings elsewhere, there will be 20 cask-condition beers and artisan food samples from Durham Farmers Market.
The admission price also includes a Bull City Food & Beer Experience souvenir tasting glass and notebook. The event benefits the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association in Durham. For a complete list of restaurants and breweries, visit


WHAT: Bull City Food & Beer Experience
WHEN: 4-8 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham