Sunday 15th May saw a gathering of Melburnians eager to try a unique matching of beer and food at Collins Quarter prepared by renown chef, Stefano de Pieri, and Collins Quarter chef, Michael Nunn.
The cold, drizzly day was a perfect back drop for this afternoon of indulgence of the specially crafted degustation menu with beer matching from the range of Mildura Brewery beers, including the people’s choice from the Federation Square Microbrewing Showcase, Choc Hops.
The antipasti was a combination of subtly woven flavours arcoss four dishes combining smoked ocean trout and yabby, bacala fritto and beer battered fritters with anchovy. This was accompanied by Desert Ale.
Mildura Brewery’s head brewer, Rod Williams explained each of the beers, which were served in wine glasses, and encouraged the guests to cradle their hands around the glass to warm the beer and release more of the flavor.
Spaghetti done in the richness of tomato and mussels, seemingly within its own sauce and seasoned with basil and parsley, delighted the diners as they sipped Storm Ale, which has the richness of Cascade hops combining with sweet malt and bready flavours and orange mango citrus aromas. The room was humming with sound of food and beer warming the soul.
Stefano moved throughout the crowd during the luncheon. While talk of was the menu, the biggest surprise was about how the beer worked so well with the flavours of the ingredients. Stefano said, “Craft beer with crafted food is a simple collaboration when you take the time to understand how the flavours of both can harmonise. We are traditionally surrounded by wine as we eat and we have a basic understanding of what goes with a certain white and a certain red.
“Microbrewing has added different levels to the experience of drinking beer and that lends itself to food matching. I’m here to show how it can be done, with as much style and sophistication as we have previously enjoyed with wine,” he said. There was more to do and he headed back to the kitchen as the rattle of the tables continued and the chatter of newly educated beer buffs filled the room.
Nut, biscuit and toffee flavours from the next beer, Mallee Bull Ale, worked in well with the melt in your mouth Chianina beef shoulder served with wet polenta with literal pockets of distinctive gorgonzola cheese. And not to let the opportunity pass, it was perfect dining weather to bring a juicy suckling pig to the table, with lashings of crackling, and served with baked fennel (which was a simple addition to the menu which provide a real highlight for people at my table. We were fighting over it). Against the warmth of this spit roasted delight we enjoyed the Stefano Pilsner; a classic European beer with classic European food. It was a no brainer.
More and more, we are seeing the comeback of beer to the dinner table. With over 120 Australian microbreweries, it’s no wonder we can see the linkages between this much loved beverage and the range of ingredients and food styles available to us in Australia. An example of this suitably of matching was best seen in the desserts presented; a tiramisu specially made with the Choc Hops beer and a light as a feather honey and yoghurt mousse, accompanied by, of course, a honey beer.
You’ll see more of Stefano and this combination of beer with elegant adaptation of a range of foods. We encourage you to make contact with us, tell us about your beers and their tasting notes, and should you be interested in hosting an event, we would be more than willing to discuss the possibilities.
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