It may not officially be summer yet, but it’s past Memorial Day and its hot enough to make a hen lay a hard boiled egg; so a tall glass of Radler and a refreshing lemon-fennel flavored summer beer pairing is just the thing to cool you off. This soup is made with tender fresh homegrown asparagus, lemon juice, and fennel seeds, for a refreshing tart pick-me-up; while the slaw contains sliced chilled fennel bulb for a mildly lemon-ish liquorish-like flavor, sugar snap peas for their cool vegetable sweetness, and the whole thing is drizzled in dressing made with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Complementarily paired with (Heineken’s) Amstel Light’s “Amstel Radler” a revitalizing lager-lemon juice blend perfect for summer sipping (if don’t believe me, Bon Appetit’s June issue has some Radler suggestions on page 30).
It’s National Hamburger Day, and around here that means it’s time for a beer pairing. These juicy, melt in your mouth sliders were made with 100% bison meat for a lean, yet flavorful burger; served riding astride tender, fresh out of the oven, home baked sesame and flax seed buns with a hefty side of homemade potato chips, it’ll make you wish every day was Burger Day. Paired with Against the Grain Brewery’s “Brett the Hipman Hop”, a well balanced wild IPA with a floral, sweet, citrus-like hop profile married with all the funk that three different strains of brettanomyces could kick up.
Strawberry Panna Cotta, Streusel-topped Rhubarb Cake, and Strawberry Jam for Memorial Day:
The 4th of Julys and Memorial Days of my youth were always filled with striped patriotic Jell-O’s and toothpick flag flying cupcakes; so in homage to those childhood treats, this scrumptious summer-time adult version of those desserts plays on the time honored relationship between fresh summer strawberries and rhubarb. The sweetness of the sun kissed strawberries contrasts with the tart stalks of the rhubarb plant making for a complex and delicious summer flavor. Served with New Glarus Brewing’s Strawberry Rhubarb to keep the dance between the flavors going strong.
Cinco de Mayo Pizza Party
Pork Carnitas Pizza and Chicken Taco Pizza:
Cinco De Mayo is here, and that means it’s time for a Mexican themed pizza party! A delicious (and healthier too!) variant of pork carnitas pressure cooked in a blend of flavorful homemade stocks (rather than the heavier, traditional animal fat) and a light, fresh-tasting chicken “taco” pizza with fresh tomato, crisp tasting cilantro, and cool avocado are both on the menu for this fiesta (along with plenty of cerveza to pair with them). Accompanied by Flying Dog Brewery’s “Agave Cerveza”, a lager brewed with lime zest and agave nectar, to complete the atmosphere.
Roasted Lamb Meatballs with Sweet Pea and Mint Tortellini in Lamb Broth:
While a mint julep might be the traditional beverage for the Kentucky Derby, to celebrate American Pharoah’s win at the Derby yesterday I toasted him with Flying Dog Brewery’s “Mint Chocolate Stout”! When paired with a meal of handmade whole wheat tortellini filled with a cheesy blend of sweet peas and homegrown mint, home ground oven roasted lamb meatballs, all immersed in a delicate homemade lamb broth, this beer pairing brings all the tastes of the Derby to you. The roast-y quality of the dark malts in the stout complemented the roasted lamb, while the refreshing light mint flavor in the tortellini and mint chocolate stout washed it all down.
Praying Mantis Egg Sack:
Took a break while hiking to check out all the “shells” from last season’s Praying Mantis (Mantis Religiosa) eggs (Ootheca) in a recently mowed field.
Spring Carrot Cake:
This double layer carrot cake is absolutely chock-full of fresh spring carrots to welcome the season! When paired with Jacks Abby Brewing’s “Hoponius Union”, the hop-y floral flavor from the West Cost hops in this India Pale Lager synergized with the cream cheese frosting to really amplify the flowery spring flavor.
Maple Brioche Burger with Maple Cured Duck Bacon and Sweet Potato Fries:
Some days you just need a good burger, and this one more than got the job done with a one-two maple punch! A 100% beef patty smothered in melt-y cheddar cheese topped with hearty thick-cut slices of homemade, hardwood smoked, maple cured, duck bacon; snugly nestled inside a home baked maple brioche bun (all this and a side of baked sweet potato fries to boot)! This tasty maple burger was served with a vintage Dogfish Head Brewery’s “Immort Ale” from the beer cellar, an oak aged American strong ale brewed with maple syrup, juniper berries, vanilla, and peat-smoked barley for a great complementary pairing.
Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Sauce:
Not much beats warm, home baked oatmeal cookies straight out of the oven, that is, except for warm home baked oatmeal cookies with a side of chocolate! These cookies were made with a blend of steel cut oats and rolled oats for maximum oatmeal flavor. For a great way to recycle all those unwanted leftover hollow chocolate Easter bunny candies, a painless decapitation breathes new life onto the confection by transforming it into a chocolate pint glass; the perfect chalice to savor the 10th anniversary version (2014 vintage) of Terrapin Beer Company’s “Wake-N-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout”; an oatmeal imperial stout with coffee roasted by Jittery Joe’s Coffee. The dark, roast-y, coffee flavor in the oatmeal stout meshed wonderfully with the dark chocolate’s similar roasted flavor, elevating this beer and dessert pairing to a higher level.
Fish Chowder in a Bread Bowl:
The seasons are changing but there is still a chill in the air; so a hot, warming meal with the herb-like floral characteristics of spring is a welcome feast indeed. This seafood chowder was made with some of the first tender spring leeks and herbs to poke their heads above ground this season; and the home baked bread bowl it was served in had Old Bay seasoning baked directly into it for a customized seafood pairing experience. Served with New Belgium’s dry hopped sour ale “Le Terroir”, a beer with enough acidic tartness to enhance the seafood and spring-like fruitiness with a floral punch from the citra and amarillo dry hopping!