Category Archives: beer

A Different Kind of Pairing

Earlier this week, Miss Mojito had the chance to take a break from her cocktail-imbibing to partake in a most dogfish1delectable beer tasting dinner that paired Dogfish Head Beers with a delicious menu at Comfort Restaurant in Richmond (read more about it here). An evening full of new and exciting beers got me thinking about how I can integrate more beer into my tasting repertoire.

For me, one of the best part’s of the evening (beside the great food and drink) was hearing from the chef and the rep from Dogfish on why that had picked a particular dish to pair with a particular beer. They chose beers that would show how far beer is willing to go to shock the palate with different flavors. These were not your everyday beers we were tasting. Most had high alcohol contents of around 9 percent alcohol-by-volume or higher (in fact, Dogfish specializes in beers with high alcohol content). And all had flavors that I’d never sampled before in a beer.

Another goal of this kind of pairing dinner, they explained, was to give beer validity, a goal they accomplished in spades. Before this dinner, my most sophisticated beer pairings usually involved pizza or hamburgers. Don’t get me wrong: these are still combinations that are close to my heart (or, in this case, stomach). But it was eye-opening to sip a different ale alongside some truly gourmet cuisine, and to imagine what types of dishes I could throw together myself that would bring out a beer’s flavor.

Most of us are familiar with the traditional (and, some might say, outdated) rules for pairing wine and food: white with fish, red with beef. But a beer pairing allows for a bit more freedom. While in many wine pairings the goal is to contrast the flavors, in beer pairing, I learned, the goal is more frequently to mimic the food’s flavors. In this past Tuesday’s menu, for example, the chef chose venison to accompany the juniper flavors in the Sah’Tea ale. Juniper is a classic pairing for the venison because it compliments the clean flavors of the meat, and the beer pairing follows the same rules. A shrimp dish with arugula and preserved lemon salad was served alongside of an equally acidic beer, the Festina Peach. This seasonal beer is intentionally tart (from lactic acid), and is closer in style to a cider or even a champagne. The acid in the beer complemented the acid from the preserved lemons in the salad.

What are some other rules for pairing beer with food? Spicy and bold flavors pair particularly well with beer, because they can stand up to the heat or heaviness. But really, beer pairing is a world open to experimentation. Check out this great Web site that addresses the subject: Destinationbeer.com. Another excellent resource is the book He Said Beer, She Said Wine, which explores and compares different types of pairings from the points of view of a sommelier (Marnie Old) and a brewmaster (Sam Calagione).

When it rains it pours, and on August 17, TJ’s Restaurant here in Richmond will host another beer tasting menu, together with Terrapin Beer. Slated for this menu are mussels and a farmhouse ale, pork raviolinis and a rye pale ale, horseradish crusted beef and an Indian brown ale and (perhaps most enticing, in Miss Mojito’s opinion), Nutella and brioche bread pudding with a vintage coffee oatmeal stout. Pretty tempting, huh? It might just be the excuse I need to put my new lessons learned to the test! (If you plan on being in the Richmond area on the 17th, be sure to give TJ’s a call to reserve your spot for the $60, all inclusive dinner: 804-649-4672.)

Miss Menu wants to know: Do you have any beer pairing experience? What’s your favorite beer to serve with a meal? Share your feedback in the comments area below!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Sapphire in the mud

After reading Garlic and Sapphires for my book club, I’ve been craving Asian food like something intense. Ruth Reichl’s exploration of Japanese, Korean and Chinese restaurants, while restaurant critic of the New York Times, was remarkable and mouth-watering. While at the NYT, she was criticized for her time spent reviewing small, ethnic establishments, but I admire her attitude toward food — especially her view that she didn’t have to review restaurants just for rich people.

Desperate to satisfy my craving, friends and I tried Yechon over the weekend. Located in the suburbs of Washington, DC, in an area engulfed by strip malls, I knew ahead of time that looks would be deceiving. It did, however, meet every expectation of deliciousness. Truly a sapphire in the mud, whether that was T. S. Eliot’s intention for the phrase or not. For dinner, we shared the bul kalbi, beef short ribs marinated in chef’s special sauce. The meat was a little sweet and a little salty, and grilled right at the table. Wrap it in crisp lettuce with fiery cabbage kimchi and you wonder why you haven’t been eating this food all along. The bowls of panchan were plentiful, and maybe next time I’ll get the nerve to ask which each of them are. Like the kimchi, they are the cold dishes Korean restaurants offer with every meal.

And, what do you drink with a feast like this? White wine and lagers are the most fitting accompaniments. The food is spicy and flavorful and you’ll be happier with a refreshing beverage. Most of us drank Hite and Kirin, beers of Korea and Japan that taste just like American lagers Budweiser and Miller. We also tried Soju, a traditional Korean liquor similar to vodka but sweeter as it is distilled from sweet potatoes. Soju is served chilled and in shot glasses, and should be consumed in one gulp, preferably after toasting to good friends around the table.

korean-bevs

Our beverages at Yechon: Soju, Korean beer Hite
and Japanese beer Kirin

posted by Ms. S&C

Green with envy

Forget the parades, shamrocks, and leprechauns for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration. There are green shoes to be worn! And the variety is incredible — floral, t-strap, patent, snakeskin, flats, platforms, sneakers and rainboots. The strappy sandals are my personal faves. They are flirty and fun, and I can see them having a place in my spring wardrobe long after the Irish festivities are over. Quick reader quiz — who can spot the $1,000 pair and which are eco-friendly? Share your guess in the comments section.

lanvin

blue-floral

prada-sandal

patent-t-strap

rl-platform

slingback-sandal

sperry-top-sidereco-friendly-2blowfish-sherbert

conversesigerson-morrisondaisy-rainboot

As far as imbibing on this occasion, beer is traditionally the favorite. And, like shoes, there are more choices than you think.

1. Irish beer, such as Guinness or Harp

St. Patrick’s Day is the only day of the year when I’m tempted to drink a Guinness or a Harp or both. I like the half-and-half combo which yields a Black & Tan.

2. Green beer, as in beer that is the color green

Green beer, even on St. Patty’s Day, doesn’t really appeal to me, but I thoroughly enjoy that others consume it. In the event you ever want to mix up your own batch, Mix That Drink outlines, step-by-step, how to make this concoction.

3. Green beer, as in beer that is eco-friendlygreen-beer

Drinking beer is good for you and the environment. Well, not exactly. But it still sounds like a cause that many of us can get behind. The Sierra Club has a few recommendations for beers made by companies who are working to lighten their carbon footprint–Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn Brewery are included. This way you can drink green beer today and any other day.

Cheers!

posted by Ms. S&C

Last supper

We’re down to the final five cheftestants on Top Chef. Last week’s episode was the last one in New York City and included an array of culinary experts. Wylie Dufresne was guest judge during the Quickfire Challenge, which involved one of my favorite proteins – eggs. Come-out-of-no-where-Carla won it with her playful green eggs and ham dish.

Time for the Elimination Challenge, which was billed as the proverbial Last Supper. Each cheftestant drew knives to find out what renowned culinary authority’s favorite dish they were to prepare – as if it were going to be the last dish they would eat. I was pretty surprised at how ordinary the dishes were. I mean, they’re classics, but shrimp scampi and eggs benedict for the last meal of your life — really?

Anyhoo, here’s what was served:

  • First course: Leah undercooks eggs benedict for Wylie Dufresne
  • Second course: Stefan overcooks salmon with spinach and roasted potatoes for Marcus Samuelsson
  • Third course: Hosea under-seasons shrimp scampi with tomatoes provencal for Susan Ungaro
  • Fourth course: Fabio perfectly roasts chicken for the Italian lady, Lidia Bastianich
  • Fifth course: Come-out-of-no-where-Carla almost wins with squab and fresh peas for Jacques Pépin, who may have out-Eric-Ripert-ed Eric Ripert as one of the nicest chefs around.

Carla and Fabio were the faves, with Fabio winning what may have been his first challenge. Stefan’s ego was taken down a notch, but it was Leah who packed her knives.

roast-chicken

liberty-ale

There are a lot of drink options appropriate for Fabio’s roasted chicken dish. Keeping with the theme — if there was only one beer I could choose to be my last one, it would definitely be Anchor Liberty Pale Ale. Aromatic, full of hop flavor and a rich color, Anchor Liberty is a great, great beer.

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C diversion–more funny stuff

Advertising execs can’t get enough of the phenomenom beer-is-to-men-what-clothes/shoes-are-to-women. Last week, I shared the Goldstar Beer chart. Here’s a Heineken beer “freakout” ad that is sure to be a viral hit.  The video is in Dutch, which may make it that much more enjoyable. The language of beer is universal.

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C diversion–cheap jokes

What goes through your mind when someone says “Let’s go for a drink”?

goldstar-ad

A friend of mine forwarded this clever ad from Goldstar Beer. While it is the equivalent of a cheap joke, depicting oversimplified cliches about men and women, I giggled. There are two more flowcharts in the ad campaign that involve toliets and relationships, but my good conscience keeps me from posting the images here.

posted by Ms. S&C

Eleven chefs a cooking

Just like her Christmas shopping, Ms. S&C is behind on the Top Chef recap/drink pairing.  But, there’s not another new episode for two weeks, so I guess we’re okay.

Episode six, or the holiday episode filmed in the summer, brought Martha Stewart as guest judge for the Quickfire Challenge.   Pray tell, why was mega-star-Martha only around for the Quickfire, and we got Rocco for a full hour?

Anyhoo, Martha came to the kitchen to judge the cheftestants one-pot-wonders.  The challenge was to cook an excellent meal using only one pot.  Some cheftestants took this one pot thing literally and cooked all ingredients together in one pot.  Some took it figuratively and cooked ingredients separately and washed the pot in between.  I was expecting Martha to scoff at the figurative group and be totally unforgiving for their lack of imagination.  Not the case.  Everyone was full of holiday spirit this week.  While she praised Hosea’s true one-pot paella, she crowned Ariane the winner with her cauliflower puree and herb rubbed filet.

elim_hosea

The Elimination Challenge had the cheftestants catering a holiday cocktail party for amfAR, using the 12 Days of Christmas for inspiration.  Yes, that meant someone had to turn “eleven lords a leaping” and “nine ladies dancing” into fancy appetizers.  Things took a dramatic yet uplifting turn when the refrigerator malfunction had all the cheftestants scrambling to save Hosea and Radhika’s lost ingredients.  Coincidentally, Hosea and Radhika ended up in the top three.  But, in short, the judges thought that the food stunk in general.  And the bottom three were so bad, they couldn’t choose one to send home.  Or, that holiday spirit thing allowed them to give the losers a break.  It turns out that pulling off Christmas in July, for a celebrity charity gig, is tough for aspiring Top Chefs.wc-pub-pint

Hosea ended up winning with his pipers piping smoked pork loin with chipotle mashed potatoes, braised cabbage and apple jus.  After having cooked a braised pork shoulder awhile back, with caramelized onions and chopped apples, I served my dish with a bottle of cider.  I think cider would be a good pairing for the smoked pork as well.  Tart and crisp, cider can be a delicious beverage, particularly during those warmer months.  I personally like Woodchuck’s 802 Dark and Dry because it is dark and dry, and the sweetness is toned down a bit.  Cider Jack is pretty good too, for a lighter option.