Monday, March 8, 2010

A Dogfish and Allagash Food Pairing

In celebration of my mother-in-laws birthday, my wife arranged for an internationally trained personal chef to come up to their house on Lake Conroe and prepare a special 4 course meal. I immediately thought it would be a perfect opportunity to practice my beer pairing skills and a great excuse to dig around in my beer cellar for two or three beers to pair with the courses.

The meal started with a Belgium lettuce salad with oranges, prosciutto and a thyme dressing which was followed by an asparagus lemon grass soup. I've never paired a beer with a salad before, so this one took a little work, but I eventually settled on a bottle of Red & White from Dogfish Head. It's a Belgian-style Wit with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice. A small part of the batch was also aged in oak barrels before being blended back in and bottled. The beer was light enough to not overpower the delicate nature of the salad but the coriander and citrus complimented the spiciness of the Belgian lettuce and thyme dressing. The slight sweetness also helped cut the mildly hot flavours of green curry in the asparagus soup.

The main entree was beef tenderloin topped with Boursin cheese and served with wasabi mashed potatoes and French green bean. To accompany it, I chose a 2006 bottle of Allagash Curieux which is a Belgian Tripel aged in Jim Beam bourbon barrels. Slightly sweet to start with hints of vanilla, the bourbon flavour was milder then I expected. I had been a little worried that the bourbon would be too overpowering, but I think a few years in the bottle helped mellow it out. A light oak flavour throughout with a bit of spiciness in the dry finish. Very smooth with light carbonation, it mixed well with the various flavours of the dish.

Dessert was Zabaione with fresh berries, but unfortunately, I forgot to pack the beers that I had selected to go with it. I had planned to grab a couple of bottles of New Belgium's Frambozen from the fridge before we left, but completely forgot about them. D'oh!! I think the raspberry and brown ale flavours of the Frambozen would have mixed well with the light fluffy custard and fresh strawberries.

Although I was disappointed about the forgotten dessert beer, I was very happy with how well the pairing with other two beers turned out. Both beers were very drinkable on their own, but it was great to experience how well good beers can accompany great food.

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