|Vince Capano is a two time winner of the prestigious Quill and Tankard
writing award for humor from the North American Guild of Beer Writers.
Vince's column is now a regular feature of beernexus.com
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|Holiday Cheer at The Gaslight
|Baseball can boast of its World Series, college basketball fans cite their exciting
Final Four, and hockey will revel in the Stanley Cup, but for the patrons of the Gaslight
Brewery and Restaurant in South Orange, New Jersey THE event of the season is the
annual Victorian Christmas Dinner. Gifted chef Cindy Soboti pulls out all the stops with
her award winning cuisine, brewer DJ Soboti prepares once a year treasures of skilled
craftsmanship, and genial host Dan Soboti creates an atmosphere of warm seasonal joy
that would be the envy of Santa himself.
Guests began the evening in the Gaslight’s beautifully restored Victorian Parlor warmed
by a blazing fireplace and by welcoming glasses of hot mulled wassail. Wassail traces its
ancestry back to Saxon times when glasses of spiced ale or mulled wine were drunk on
Twelfth Night for toasting a good harvest and for warding off any lurking evil spirits. It
was a most appropriate opener since it was clear that any evil spirits this evening didn’t
stand a chance.
Assortments of delectable hot and cold hors d’oeuvres were placed in every corner of
the room to accompany servings of Gaslight’s own Perfect Stout. The stout’s rich,
creamy head held a mix of coffee, chocolate, and hoppy aromas. It smooth, medium
bodied mouth feel led to a nice balance of malt flavors, raisins, plums, and bitter
chocolate in a rounded background that hinted at a touch of sweetness. As the aptly
named brew suggested, the evening was certainly off to perfect stout!
Diners were then led into the stylish main dinning area and given glasses of Luna di Luna
Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio. Here they were asked to join Dan Soboti in a toast
to good health and good drink. This bright straw yellow wine had a distinct nose of
peach and melons with a sparkle that continued deep into the glass. It was
accompanied by the first course of Stuffed Artichoke Supreme, a delicious dish featuring
cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs soaked in extra virgin olive oil. This was followed with
bottles of the perennial favorite Samuel Smith Winter Welcome. It’s honey amber color,
textured head of small bubbles, floral aroma and appropriately maltly flavor ended with
a clean finish of great finesse.
Terrene of roasted goose with cranberries, pistachios and asparagus was next on the
evening’s menu. The accompanying Cider Jack Cranberry Cider and Tomasello
Cranberry Wine heightened the subtle tastes of this finely crafted dish. The
effervescent cider had just the appropriate amount of tartness while the wine’s unique
sweet/sour taste not only highlighted the dish but also delicately cleansed the palate in
preparation for the next course of crab bisque. The bisque proved to be a creamy,
highly seasoned, and crab filled delight. This was served with R.H. Phillips Chardonnay
and the Gaslight’s Victorian Dinner signature brew, Hoppy Holiday Ale.
The Phillips Chardonnay, barrel fermented, revealed rich tropical fruit flavors with notes
of vanilla and butterscotch. It’s lush dryness set the stage for the sublime tastes of the
cask conditioned Hoppy Holiday. This real ale, alive with yeast, reached maturity not in
the copper tanks of the Gaslight brewery but literally in a cask stored in a special room
beneath the pub. Served from a hand pump, the Hoppy Holiday was lightly
carbonated, unfiltered, and chilled to cellar temperature. It was an outstanding
expression of the brewer’s art, exhibiting subtleties not fond in most beers.
Exceptionally well balanced, with a firm hop presence throughout, it revealed a fruity,
fresh nose amidst combinations of berries, lemon, and dry floral notes. Outstanding!
Santa had delivered the perfect gift for any beer lover with this one.
Pomegranate sorbet with frosted grapes, served with Woodchuck Granny Smith Cider
was next on the menu of gastric delights. The slightly sour cider and sorbet blended
nicely to prepare the palate for the main course of Beef Wellington served with Grande
Duchess potatoes and glazed baby carrots. The tender fillet of beef, mushrooms, and
smooth liver pate encased in a delectable egg glazed puff pastry was stunningly
presented and outstanding in taste. The dish itself bears Duke Wellington’s name not
because he was a great gourmet but because the meal was thought to resemble one of
the brown shiny military boots that were named after him. Regardless of name
however, this course was a hands down winner as was the accompanying beverages of
Anchor Christmas Ale and Hogue Syrah wine.
This year’s Anchor Special Christmas Ale is deep dark ruby in color with a smooth,
creamy mouthfeel. Aroma is clovey with hints of apples, butter and spice. Its complex
flavors include cinnamon, pine, licorice, and pear. It finishes dry, with a light lingering
bitterness. The Syrah was packed with blackberry, black cherry, anise coffee, cherry
flavors and a touch of plum on the long smooth crisp finish.
The evening’s repast concluded with a rich white chocolate parfait along with glasses of
Ramstein Winter Wheat and Gaslight’s unique Satan Claws Ale. The hearty Winter
Wheat had roasty carob and chocolate notes with a strong nose of clove and banana.
The Satan Claws proved to be beautifully balanced strong ale, complex, golden and
lively. It was truly an ideal choice to close the evening as its floral notes, malty mid taste
and big, kick it up a notch hop finish was, like the dinner, something special to be long
So cheer for all you’re worth at the World Series, Final Four, and Stanley cup playoffs,
but save that standing ovation for the Victorian Christmas Dinner at the Gaslight!
|This review is of a prior Victorian Dinner.
For reservations contact the Gaslight at 973-762-7077