Celebrate Mardi Gras with Louisiana-style food and beer

Growing up in southeastern Texas, Chef Matt Schnooberger was exposed to the staple foods of Louisiana through friends he made from the neighboring state. Now Schnooberger is bringing those Louisiana flavors to New Mexico as part of a Mardi Gras-inspired dinner featuring Louisiana’s Abita Brewing beers.

“Growing up in Houston, I had so many friends who were from Louisiana so I ate boudin and alligator and jambalaya and all this stuff,” Schnooberger said. “It wasn’t comfort food, but it seemed like comfort food growing up just because I would go to a friend’s house for dinner and they would be having jambalaya for dinner or gumbo for dinner. Those flavors move into Houston so much because they share a lot of the same seafood, both being on the Gulf and everything.”

Schnooberger, who is the head chef at Freight House Kitchen + Tap, also has visited New Orleans on many occasions and has gained an appreciation for Abita Brewing beers.

“So I’ve had their beer, really enjoyed it and kind of thought if we’re going to do a beer dinner and it happens to be on Fat Tuesday, let’s do something from New Orleans,” he said. “Abita first came to mind. … I just kind of like the sound of all the different beers that they have and all the different flavor combinations that they have in their beers.”

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Schnooberger teamed up with Katixa M. Mercier, sales representative for Favorite Brands, which distributes Abita, to create a pairing menu.

The Abita Beer Dinner on Feb. 28 begins with a reception featuring cheese and Mardi Gras Bock. The bock has a rich malt flavor and full body. It is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops, according to tasting notes provided by Mercier.

The first course begins with smoked alligator rib with Alabama white sauce paired with Abita’s Andygator, Andygator is a classic Helles Doppelbock made with German Perle hops, which gives it a slight edge, according to Mercier. Next up is sweet corn bisque with shrimp served with Wrought Iron IPA, which is not an intense India Pale Ale but will “satiate the palate of the IPA seeker,” according to Mercier. The fourth course consists of fried green tomatoes with New Mexico’s Old Windmill Dairy goat cheese.

Schnooberger enjoys having fun with his food, which is apparent on his fourth course that he deemed Surf + Turf Jambalaya.

“We’re calling it a surf and turf but we’re using frog and duck with it,” Schnooberger said. “… I kind of just wanted to have fun with that especially for Mardi Gras. So I went online and found some different flavors that they use in New Orleans and kind of took some of the stuff that I remember (growing up).”

The Surf + Turf Jambalaya will be paired with Two Boots, which is a collaboration beer between Abita and Italy’s Birrificio del Ducato. Two Boots is made with pilsner and wheat malts and hopped with German Perle hops, according to the tasting notes.

“Two Boots is a saison with addition of lemon balm, peppercorn and honey,” Mercier said.

The dinner sweetly wraps with bananas Foster king cake served with cinnamon ice cream and spiced rum drizzle. It will be complemented with Bourbon Street Maple Pecan.

WHERE: Freight House Kitchen + Tap, 200 S. Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo

HOW MUCH: $60 per person. Reservations, call 588-2143. Information, visit facebook.com/FR8HOUSE. For those who cannot make the dinner there will be Abita Brewing Tap Takeovers at O’Niell’s Nob Hill and Heights locations, as well as Gecko’s Heights location, on Feb. 28.

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