Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More Cooking With Beer

It's always fun picking out a wine each week to go with our Sunday dinners. It gives us a chance to test our own pairing skills. This last Sunday we decided to do something different and pick out some beers to go with dinner. This inspired me to cook with beer a little too. So I made some Asian-inspired mussels cooked in Belgian white ale (a Belgian wheat beer brewed with spices). I won't give you the recipe because this might end up on the wine bar menu at some future point, but basically I cooked a mixture of rice vinegar, curry paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, and a few herbs and vegetables. Then I cooked the mussels in Floris Wit, a Belgian White ale. After the mussels were cooked I removed them, then poured the mixture back into the ale. Then I poured all that back over the mussels. The results are on the picture shown. Kyle tried pairing them with different beers, and of course the Floris was the best pairing.

Then I cooked some burgers, half pork burgers and half bison burgers. These weren't just any burgers, though. I cooked some chopped pancetta and then mixed it in with the ground meat. Then I added fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. It's a bit more work, but you get much more flavor than with a regular burger. Rebecca paired hers with the Affligem Blonde, a Belgian abbey golden ale. Kyle went with the Allagash Tripel, a Belgian-style Tripel, or 'triple' ale that's strong, malty and spicy. Allagash brewery is based in Maine but makes Belgian ales. I went with the La Moneusse Saison, also from Belgium. A Saison is a French/Belgian farmhouse ale that's brewed and then left to age for a few months. I knew it would pair well because it has an earthy taste, and whether it's beer or wine it's the ones with earthy flavors that usually pair the best with food.

Our beer dinner was fun, we recommend trying it yourself. All the beers I mentioned are available at both stores. Here's a challenge to everybody: If you're normally a wine drinker, pair a dinner with beer this week. If you're a beer drinker, try a wine as your next pairing. As always, we're happy to make suggestions.

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