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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, December 2

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« Top Chef, Episode 11: Let's Get the Egg Outta Here Special Delivery »

Random Thu May 22 2008

Beer, Meet Food.

I was lucky enough to attend the "Principles of Beer and Food Pairing" seminar last night at Just Grapes, a wine school and wine shop conveniently located in the Loop. The seminar was just one event of many that Just Grapes hosts; every Saturday brings a complimentary wine tasting and their "Global Grapes" series focuses on different wines found throughout the world.

This particular event concentrated on the relationship between beer and food, a concept that I really haven't explored before. Sure, I've had Kingfisher with mouth-numbing Indian food, Duvel with mussels, and Sapporo with sushi, but those combinations were usually the result of pairing regional cuisine with indigenous beer.

Paramount Room Beverage Director and beer sommelier Shawn Koch and Executive Chef Stephen Dunne (also of Volo) lent their talents for the evening. Koch led an interesting discussion on the origins of beer ("Beer is as old as civilization itself, possibly even pre-dating bread!"), and then food was paraded out, course by course.

Some stellar pairings included smoked trout, bitter greens, and caper raisin aioli with Wittekerke Wit Beer, steak tartare with Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, and a toffee-crusted chocolate brownie paired with Delirium Tremens.

Culinary misses were few and far between, but sadly did include "Cabbage Stuffed Cabbage" with an off-putting corned beef vinaigrette, which didn't seem to pair well with any of the suggested beers (Kasteel Belgium Brown, Alpha King IPA, and Anchor Porter) and a scotch quail egg, which when combined with overwhelming flavors of anise and grain mustard, overshadowed the beer pairing of Blackthorn Cider.

All in all, the experience was interesting and satisfying, and I learned about the "3 C's:" cut, compliment, and contrast. Shawn Koch says:

"When pairing food with beer, ask yourself whether there is fat, oiliness, or heavy spice in the dish that a crisp beer could cut through? Are there aromatics in the dish that may match with some aromatic nuances in the beer? Are there bold flavors in the food that can be balanced by contrasting flavors in the beer? Certain pairings are successful while some aren't. The pleasure of a nice pairing is great, but experimenting (and failing) is part of the fun!

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Lunch Lady Librarian / May 22, 2008 4:39 PM

A fav spot of mine is Pastoral on Broadway and I hear they have a new location downtown.

They pair cheese and wine, tho I am more comfortable selecting a beer I confess.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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