Dish of the Day: Beer matching menu – Part 1 – Apéritif
Last week I looked at the basic principles of matching beer with food; complementing, contrasting and cutting. For the next few weeks I’m going to going to look in more detail at specific food and beer pairings that are particularly delicious. So, from the beginning, this week will be the aperitif.
I like beer with a dinner to start light and end dark. For me, the role of the apéritif is to break in the taste buds to drinking beer, without sending them on a wild one too early in the night.
With this in mind my first beer is Longboard Island Lager, from the Kona Brewing Company. Based in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, it’s not a coincidence that Kona make, light, refreshing, tropical beers. Kona have been brewing for close to 20 years now and the environmentally conscious company have recently installed solar panels at their brewery that should power at least half of their energy consumption. They use thermal energy for heating throughout the brewing process and even collect condensation from their air conditioning in old whiskey barrels which is then used for watering plants. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I can imagine that the conscious ethos is an inevitable side effect of being surrounded by glistening blue waves and beautiful wildlife.
Their unique beers have featured on beer pairing menus I’ve enjoyed in the past; their Big Wave Golden Ale, for example, is another good choice to start with. But their flagship lager, for me, is the perfect way to kick things off. It balances its crisp flavour with a malty fruitiness, and the spicy notes mix nicely with the carbonation of the beer for a lovely, gentle tingle.
I would serve this beer with an equally tropical side dish; masala peanuts, or Raja Special, a popular snack you’ll find served in every bar in India. I first tried it in Chandigarh, a unique planned city in the North East where modern western architecture fuses (or clashes, depending on your mood), with Indian daily life. It’s simple to make; mix 300g of peanuts with one minced red onion, 2 large minced tomatoes, 1 finely chopped green chilli and a small bunch of finely chopped fresh coriander. Sprinkle on some red chilli powder and dress it with freshly squeezed lime. In India you scoop spoonfuls into your palm before eating. Of course, from my experience of serving this to friends, the spoon usually gets forgotten as everyone starts grabbing for more.
The refreshing spiciness of the masala peanuts will complement the Longboard Island Lager, and along with the salty peanuts the combination should get your appetite ready for the next course.
Next week, starters. (that’s right, this is a five course meal!)
Follow Will at @will_coldwell
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