New year’s eve 2017

Yes, I meant 2017, it’s not a mistake and this is from two years ago. In 2017 I finished StiBON level 1 and I put it to the test immediately. I decided to make a New Year’s beer-food-pairing dinner of three courses for eleven diners. Yup, three courses and eleven diners, on my own. And not only that, two diners were vegan, some wanted wine instead of beer and some didn’t drink alcohol at all. And I was planning on accommodating them all.

Seems like an interesting challenge. (And it was, I wonder why I haven’t done it again since…).

So after months of trying and thinking things out (not the wine, I left that to someone else) I came to the following menu.

Starters: Chestnut cauliflower soup with Jopen Koyt, Coconut water and Malbec.
Main Course consisting of several dishes: Rosemary chicken and rosemary vegan chicken pieces; chestnut mushrooms with garlic sauce; ‘forgotten’ vegetables, namely pumpkin, rutabaga and beetroot; radishes and kumatoes; baby potatoes in two ways. With Strandgaper, orange ginger juice and Malbec.
Dessert: Salty chocolate coffee pudding with Wanna taste my Christmas balls, Wiener Melange and Moscato.

I must say, the pairings worked really well, and I’m proud of my first big beer-food-pairing exercise. The starters were both herbal/spicy and the dessert was both salty and chocolaty and had quite some umami as well. The main course was a mix of everything and the Strandgaper is everyone’s friend.

First thing to look at for pairing a beer with a dish is the intensity. One must not overwhelm the other. Then you take into account flavours that match or enhance (and sometimes subdue) each other. It’s a good match when the beer or the food gets better. The perfect match is when both the beer and food get better.

I actually started with the Koyt beer and looked for a dish to match the beer instead of the other way around. I learned about the beer during the lessons and I found the herbal flavours very interesting and wanted to pair it right away. It’s not a very intense beer, but pleasantly complex. I figured it would be great with chestnuts and it is. I added some cauliflowers because of their interesting tang. These days I find Jopen Koyt to be a perfect match for all kinds of food pairings, especially for the more subtle Asian dishes like Massaman curry.

Then I really wanted to do forgotten vegetables, which are herbal and earthy, which would probably have been a great match with the Koyt as well, but I didn’t want to do the same beer in a row so I had to think of something else. I also had to keep in mind I had to make dinner for eleven people, so I should not make it too complex. I’m lucky my kitchen isn’t exactly small, but it’s not an industrial kitchen either. Besides, we only have one small oven. I tend to plan with several oven dishes, because you can just put them in the oven and focus on the rest, but in this case we just moved to a house with a very small (and not a particularly good) oven, so I had to rethink that strategy. So the vegetables had their spot in the oven, while the rest would have to go on the stove. I LOVE Kipstuckjes, and as chicken and chicken like product tend to do, they go very well with everything, so that was an obvious next choice. Some of us wanted some meat though, so I made real chicken as well. I finished it up with the mushrooms, the potatoes and the salad. So many different flavours need an allemansvriend (yes, I’m sorry, I love this Dutch word. It basically means everyone’s friend), so I decided on a golden ale, which is as easy to please as a pilsner, but has more intense flavours. That became the Strandgaper.

Last but not least I wanted a russian imperial stout to wrap up the meal. Wanna Taste My Christmas Ball? by De Moersleutel definitely has some salty flavours next to chocolate and coffee flavours, so I deciced to go for similar tastes in the dessert with a chocolate coffee mousse with a salt crunch on top. I was a bit afraid this pairing was a bit too much, but by playing with the amount of salt and coffee mix on top I came to a very interesting pairing.

At the day itself I figured I still couldn’t do it all by myself, so I made recipes I divided over the kitchen and set everyone to work on the several dishes. It was actually quite fun and we made a wonderful dinner. I’m still happy with the results. I might even do it again some time…

Have you ever tried to pair your food with a fitting beer? How did it go?

Happy new year!

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