Coincidentally I have had invitations to two Indian dinners in two weeks - one accompanied by beer and one with wine which makes for some interesting comparisons.
It's been one of those very rare occurances in England today - a sunny Bank Holiday - and we've spend the day with friends at the Bristol West Indian Cricket Club where they turned out not to be playing much in the way of cricket but a great deal of music, dancing and bouncy castles.
If you're not into herrings this match might not seem desperately appealing but I promise you it’s an outstanding combination. It’s prompted by my recent visit to Copenhagen where the Danes eat herrings on an almost daily basis as part of their smørrebrød (selection of open sandwiches).
People carp about food and beer pairings, griping that they're just made up pretentions that have no right being associated with something as inclusive and democratic as beer. "It's the drink of the common man," they cry, "Beer goes with everything!" To which I respond, uh, no, it doesn't. And to prove my point, here are ten food and beer partnerships guaranteed to make you wish you had chosen something else to drink.
We all know a beer goes down well with a ploughmans and that it’s a great drink to wash down a barbecue but here are 10 more unusual pairings my son Will and I came up with for our beer and food book An Appetite for Ale which should liven up your summer drinking.
The other day I picked out some wines to match your Easter meals. Today here are some beer pairings. You may find family and friends resistant to the idea of putting beer on the table (though some will be secretly pleased) but stick to your guns. The more your guests see how great beer is with different types of food the more confident they’ll feel about serving it to friends themselves and the less likely it is that the only beer you’ll find when you go to their house is a Bud. So, here goes:
With the Olympics in full swing I guess we'll all be spending a fair amount of time in front of the TV eating takeaway pizza.You may not have given much thought to the ideal match but here’s what I suggest:
The key element to this typically Bavarian recipe, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is the addition of hot stock which gives it a consistency half way between a conventional potato salad and mashed potato. It also has the most delicious sweet-sour flavour.
I still remember my visit to the great Oktoberfest in Munich, the world’s biggest beer festival. Mysteriously it’s not held in October at all - or rather it doesn’t start in October but in September - next weekend to be precise.
I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):
As it’s both Bonfire Night and British Sausage Week this week there’s a fair chance that you’ll be eating bangers of some kind, so what’s the best pairing? As always it depends on the sausage but I personally find that beer and cider are often just as good partners as wine.
If you think of the ingredients that show off a great wine mushrooms would have to be near the top of the list. Possessed of the sexy ingredient umami - the intensely savoury taste identified by the Japanese, they flatter and act as the perfect foil for wines as disparate as vintage Champagne, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Of all the different aspects of wine and food matching I write about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial. What type of wine works best, and indeed whether you should drink wine at all is the subject of endlessly heated exchanges. The subject has recently come up again with the introduction of a number of wines that are specifically designed to go with spicy food. Was this, at last, the solution?
If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
Mark Hix may have been knocking back the tequila on his recent trip to Mexico but if you’re not made of such stern stuff try my alternative suggestions for his Mexican-inspired recipes in the Independent today.
Fennel is one of the handful of vegetables that can influence a main course pairing - almost always for the better. Its aniseed flavour seems to have a pronounced affinity with many wines, especially whites. Here are some suggested matches with recipes that two British chefs have published this weekend - Gordon Ramsay in the Times and Skye Gyngell in the Independent on Sunday.
Like salt, pepper has a pronounced effect on wine, often making reds taste softer and lusher than they otherwise would. Unlike salt though, you also find peppery flavours in wines such as Northern Rhône Syrah and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
When I read Mark Hix recipes in The Independent today they were so challenging that I nearly gave up but as everyone else seems to be writing about asparagus today and I’ve done a lot on asparagus recently there was no other option . . .
When I met Christine Manfield the other day I gave her the impossible task of picking one recipe out of her stunning new book Tasting India. This was the one she chose. It comes from the southern state of Karnataka, the former state of Mysore and is typical of the surprising straightforwardness of the recipes in the book.
Burgers don't have to be beefy as these delicious salmon burgers from my book An Appetite for Ale prove, inspired by browsing the aisles of the Wholefoods market in Denver during the Great American Beer Festival a couple of years ago!
A recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai opened my eyes anew to the possibilities involved in drinking wine with Chinese food. Many of the conclusions we have painstakingly arrived at in the west turn out to be less obvious when tried out in situ.
The answer to that may well be ‘whatever wine’s left over’ - if there is any, of course - but if you’re looking for a wine that will match specific dishes here are a few ideas:
Like many popular dishes chili con carne (aka chilli con carne) has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey. Beer in many way seems the best option but a big hearty red will see you right too:
Roast chicken. Possibly everyone’s favourite Sunday roast. Certainly the childrens’ though they’re not going to be wondering which wine to pair with it.( I hope! I can recommend apple juice for non-drinkers.)
If culture and ‘terroir’ are a basis for deciding which drinks bestmatch a particular cuisine then beer must have a strong claim to bepaired with Scandinavian food.
Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year so if you’re vegetarian yourself or cooking for one here are some perfect pairings for some delicious festive recipes from the web.
“Can you come up with a tastier, more satisfying, more consensual dish than calamari fritti?” asks restaurateur and Guardian columnist Yotam Ottolenghi in the paper today. Well, it’s a tough call but his other mouthwatering recipes would certainly run it close. Ottolenghi’s food is full of flavour and therefore quite a challenge for any accompanying wine but here’s what I would choose.
After all the rich eating of the last few days there’s nothing better than a plateful of clean-flavoured, briney oysters. But what’s the best wine - or beer - to pair with them?
I’ve thought for a while that Scandinavian food is on the way up so am not surprised to find another new cookbook on the subject from Trina Hahnemann who Telegraph cookery writer Xanthe Clay dubs ‘Denmark’s answer to Nigella’ in the paper today.
I’m beginning to get Christmassed-out already so this week’s pairing is not the very old madeira and Comté I had last night, amazing though that was, but a steaming, spicy bowl of ramen and an Asahi Super Creamy Head beer I enjoyed at Bone Daddies Ramen earlier in the week.
It’s so automatic to think of a wine match these days that one sometimes overlooks the fact that a beer will work just as well, if not better. So it is with that great restaurant favourite, chicken caesar salad.