Sunday, 15 February 2009

A valentines day adventure of beer and food.

It was only previous week when I visited my local the John Bull on an icy cold, blustery night to seek out some quality winter beers. For a Saturday night the place seemed unchanged (despite recent economic conditions) with folk of the local community arriving at a steady pace to enjoy the quality pints on offer. I began as usual reviewing the cask ales available, giving particular praise to Hadrian & Borders new Ouseburn Porter, before finishing with a Westmalle Dubbel. It was by this point that the group of middle aged couples who I was sat next to, had assembled to cheese board with several varieties of cheeses. After chatting to the lady next to me (about beer mainly) I was able to get some cheese samples to see if the Westmalle paired well with any of the cheeses. Luckily enough it seemed to match almost all of the cheeses fairly well. The beer seemed to strip the fat from my palate, almost dissolving it to leave the flavors of both beer and cheese to amalgamate together in a harmonious dance between fruity yeasty phenolics and intense mature cheese flavors. This was more than bliss, and considering Westmalle Dubbel is no lightweight beer at 7%abv, it squared up to anything the cheese board could throw at it, even the blue cheese, which I admit wasn’t the best pairing. Is this inspiration to host my own beer and cheese evening I thought? How many people should I invite and who? What beer with what cheese?

The planning of the event is still pending. But it was only the following weekend that my good lady was preparing a three course meal for us both for valentines day, and with this came the idea to match each course with a complementing beer specially selected. To be honest not all the beers used were 100% adequate for the pairing, but I would class it as a good attempt.

The starter.

Sear scallops with king prawns on a bed of salad and a lemon wedge.

The Beer: Celis White, Belgian wheat beer.

To a certain level this pairing was a shot in the dark as I had never tried Celis white but had an idea that seafood and fish paired well with Belgian wheat beer and this was the only example of the style I had available. Overall the match was quite good with the yeast texture picking up on the scallops a little. The intensity of both beer and food was also well balanced however I felt the beers lively citric flavors and racy acidity really longed for something to dance with or lift from the palate. I would recommend this beer to be paired with something a little more lively, Mexican food maybe?

The Main.

Venison Steak and cherry sauce served with potato wedges, broccoli and asparagus.

The Beer: Badger poachers choice.

This was a bottle I had kept for awhile just waiting for that game dish to go with. It even advises on the bottle to serve with game. As some will know this a very rich malt balanced beer, brewed with liquorish and damson to make it truly individual. The flavors of the beer seemed to purposely mimic that of the cherry sauce and the beer harmonized well with the meat whilst leaving a rugged sweetness and warming alcohols in the mouth. A success!
The Dessert.

Chocolate pear and ginger pudding.

The Beer: Baccus Frambozenbier

This was chosen from the supermarket earlier in the day after the realization that I had no beer in the house that would match this dish adequately. The rational of choosing the raspberry variety over the cherry was simple, raspberry is a more intense fruit so would stand up to the ginger. As things turned out, I was right, and the lively fruits and spritzy carbonation of the beer seemed to marry superbly with chocolate and pear whilst the ginger seemed to ride alongside, bringing that extra complexity to the piece. This was defiantly the best pairing of the evening.
Something for after dinner.

Kasteel Triple.

Was by coincidence a beer very suited for valentines day with bold apricot and pear like sweet malty flavors and generous warming alcohols. This one rounded off a perfectly splendid evening of quality food and company (thanks to the lovely Helen my wife to be) with well chosen quality beers. Cheers.


Ian Beer said...

Rob, I always find that Toilet Duck & Peperami make a rather refined match which sears away the throat lining a treat...only joking - its good for morale. Good article. Serious question now - whats the best food to go with Daleside Blonde?
Ian Beer

Rob said...

That, from what I have heard would be lobster salad. As reccomended by the owner of Daleside. Pale zesty beers can often complement seafood of that type