Tag Archives: cantillon

The Joys of Lambic

29 Sep

I cracked a Cantillon Iris the other night after holding on to it for several months.  It’s an unblended lambic, meaning this particular style is the original lambic.  The Iris did not disappoint: really lovely lighter medium orange color with lots of carbonation. Fluffy, super fizzy off-white head that starts off aggressive and then fades pretty quickly. The head sparkles so much you can hear it.  Smell is true to lambic funkiness and wonderful sour white grapes with a woody background. This is seriously drinkable, the flavor is much lighter than the color or aroma suggest. Sour white grapes and lemon in the flavor with a lemony acidic aftertaste that is pleasant. The mouthfeel is bright and fizzy. Loverly simply loverly.  The Iris is a great example of the all-encompassing beer: the bottle, the label, the beer, the aroma, flavor and the sound it makes from popping the cork to the sparkling pour — all senses are stimulated.

cantillon iris

This is a beer style that has become a serious personal favorite.  The bottles, the labels and the good stuff inside make it an all around hit.  Unfortunately, when confronted with sharing these behemoth 750s my alter-ego beer geek comes out in full force.  So embarrassing.  I wax rhapsodic about the wild yeast only found in Brussels and in the precious aging barrels of Cantillon, how only this area produces this style.  I end up talking off some poor soul’s ear for a solid 45 minutes then realize I just exposed the dorkiest side of me.  Everyone beware, don’t ask about the lambic you can’t believe is a beer you’re drinking unless you’re down for a big fat dose of geekdom.

Advertisements

Cheesin’

29 Jul

Over my birthday weekend, the program I was studying with in Milan took us to Parma for a Culture/Cuisine Trip where we toured the Parmigiano Reggiano factory and watch the magic unfold.  I bought a solid 5 lbs. of cheese but the only thing that was missing was a good tart sour ale like Jolly Pumpkin PerseguidorRodenbach Grand Cru or perhaps an impy like Victory Storm King Imperial Stout.  Here’s a quick run through of the process that goes into parmesan cheese:
parma whey

The head cheese of the Parmagiano Reggiano factory, separating extra whey to be fed to the piggies.

Skimming the cheeseSkimming the cheese with a wooden rod to check consistency.

Bag it Up!Bagging the cheese in cloth to drain before being pressed into the molds.

Brine BathBrine bath where the proteins and little fat basically cure and harden until aging begins.

CHEESE!Cheese cheeeese gloriousss cheeeeeeseeeeee!!!

Back in the States, I’ve had some very good cheese from La Cave du Vin and Whole Foods.  At La Cave I ordered a bleu and brie board with a Great Divide Hercules IPA.  The maximum hoppy happiness of the pint worked well against the funky and very sweet smooth cheeses.  From Whole Foods I enjoyed a beautiful smoked creamy gouda with a Cantillon Gueuze.

Pseudo feijoada

22 Jul

As a way of saving money and still eating well in Milan on a student budget, I began to create one-pot stews enough to last me a week.  I am a slim woman but with daily stops at the local gelateria, pasta out the ears and panini for lunch I managed to put on 10 lbs.  So not only was this a economical choice but also a healthier choice.  My first try at a stew was feijoada — my absolute favorite Brazilian dish — which taught me the basics of making a bean and meat stew while allowing me to adapt and experiment with the recipe.  My second foray into the stew world was a twist on traditional feijoada using lentils instead of black beans.  Lentils are one of those superfoods with which you just can’t go wrong and such a stew as this is comfort food to the max.

LENTIL STEW:

(Shopping List)

1 bag green lentils (at home, rinse and drain, pick out bad beans)

1 large can whole, peeled tomatoes

2-4 bay leaves

Srichacha chili sauce

Ground cumin or cumin seeds

Chorizo or spicy italian sausage

Andouille Sausage

2 cloves of garlic

1 large red onion

2 shallots

The Business:

Dice shallots, garlic and onion.

Warm large stock pot on stove at medium heat with a enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Toss in shallots, garlic and onion and saute until golden brown.

Next  throw in the bag of lentils, minus the plastic of course! and the can of tomatoes with their sauce.  Stir and keep an eye on the water level: the lentils will soak up the water from the tomatoes and soften and the rest will cook off.

While all that’s going on, in a skillet brown up the Andouille sausage (you can either cut them into 1/4 inch circles before or after you cook them).  If you want, you can take the chorizo or spicy italian sausage and slip it out of its casing and brown in the pan as you would ground beef for tacos or slice it with the casing on the same as the andouille.  The idea behind just browning the meat is that you don’t want to cook it completely because after it’s been browned you will throw it into the stew pot and let the heat of the water/stew cook the meat the rest of the way while it soaks up all the flavors.  Once the meat is in the stock pot, toss in your bay leaves and cumin, as much Srichacha (or Defcon for that heat) as you can handle, lots of ground pepper.  This is mostly a waiting game once you’ve got it all together, usually an hour, so don’t be in a rush.  This is one of those dishes that is always better the next day.

End goal:  lentils that are al dente and not crunchy, a stew that is thick and not watery or soupy.  Eat hearty and drink up.  I would recommend a really tart gueuze or a saison with this to take some of that heat off the tongue and clear your palate for another helping, such as Cantillon Gueuze or Saison Dupont (incredibly versatile beer with food).

*Browning meat is like giving it a sun tan – the skin touching the pan heat will turn a different color than the insides but you don’t want the whole piece to be that color. So when one side gets a touch of that sun tan, flip it and let the other side have a chance.  This is a very quick process, we’re not talking minutes in the pan.*

Baby’s First Beer Dinner

6 Jul

A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at pairing an interesting beer list around a dinner prepared by a friend.  I knew my audience: 11 friends and some family, a few winos and some dedicated but uneducated hopheads.  The menu was a delicious hodge-podge: Cambodian chicken rice (details below), bbqed thick cut steaks, chickpea salad and for dessert crepes with homemade walnut frangipane.

To whet our appetites I started the diners off with a personal hop favorite, Bell’s Hopslam (only downside is the pricey nature of a 6-pack so go singles and mix it up with other hoppy friends like Thirsty Dog Hoppus Maximus, etc.).

Beer truly made its place known at our table and garnered the attention of everyone.  To compliment the juicy chargrilled steaks: Lakefront Organic ESB.  For the spicyness of both the Cambodian chicken rice and the chickpea salad a bottle of Saison Dupont Vielle Provision and a Cantillon Gueuze – the tartness of both played off the spicyness and citrus aspect complimented the ingredients of the salad well.  Dessert was incredibly rich and very sweet, so in order to pay respect to this classic French sweet I served up small doses of Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout.  LIke a shot of coffee as an aperatif, this brew is lavish but bitter enough to stand beside the crepe.  Hell, you could pour this over vanilla ice cream and call it a night.

CAMBODIAN CHICKEN RICE:

Saute in a large and decently deep skillet one large yellow onion and a large garlic clove in olive oil over medium heat

Over the sauteed onions and garlic toss in 3 large chicken breasts cut in bite size pieces

As soon as the chicken starts to turn from pink to white start coating the surface of the entire pan with turmeric, cayenne, ground or fresh shredded ginger and black pepper.  Alter the spice amount depending on your spice threshold.  Add in about a cup of fish sauce (you can find this around the soy sauce at any large grocery store) and half a bag of frozen or fresh peas.

At the same time you start the process of the chicken and spices, start making a few cups of white rice depending on how much or how little rice you want to eat with your creation.  Once this is prepared (the simplest way I’ve found is just taking another large skillet over medium heat, throwing in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Cook the rice until it starts to turn translucent around the edges and then start adding water, let it cook out and then add more until the rice is al dente).

Once the rice is complete turn back to your chicken stew and toss in a can of coconut milk and the rice and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  Serve up with some lime wedges and cilantro.

%d bloggers like this: