When I say cheese you say wine. Wrong!? When I say cheese, you now say beer!
Wine will always be the one that automatically is paired with food, any food from cheese to seafood to chocolate. However, beer is making a stand and is proving its versatility and compatibility across the foodie spectrum.
Galvin Brasserie De Luxe at the Waldorf Astoria invited me along to one of their Masterclasses. They run monthly masterclasses in the brasserie, predominantly food pairing such as the Cheese and Beer one I attended. They are hosted by Head Chef Jamie and Sommelier Damien, both experts in their fields.
The masterclasses are wonderfully relaxed affairs and we sat 8 at the table. There was a couple from America, a couple from Clackmannanshire who had just moved to Edinburgh and a couple from Leith. A wonderful mix of foodies and holiday makers.
On arrival at the table there is a platter laid out with four slices of cheese and several crackers; and lots of glasses. We sampled four cheeses with paired ales.
Brie de Meaux (French) paired with LAF, Deeside, California Beer from Deeside Brewery in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire. The beer was light and crisp. It is brewed with a blend of German and American hops – Hersbrucker and Cascade, creating a clean, herbal and floral taste. This paired with the Brie cut through the creamy goo-ness but added a fresh vibrancy to the pairing. I felt that it enhanced the beer more.
St Andrew Cheddar (Scottish) paired with Caesar Augustus, Lager-IPA Hybrid from Alloa, Clackmannanshire. This beer is from William Bros Brewery and it combines the clean fresh tastes from lager with the bitter finish from an IPA. The beer is quite dry and looks like straw. The cheese is from the St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company and are the only artisan cheese making company in Fife using milk from their own single source herd of home-bred cows. It is buttery yellow in colour with a creamy texture that is softer than an average cheddar. I’ve had Caesar Augustus before and I am not keen on it, but combined with the cheddar it removed the bitterness at the end.
Comte St Antoine (French) paired with Golden Ale, Bitter and Twisted from Harviestoun Brewery in Clackmannanshire. This is a blonde beer with a tingly, lemony finish. A slight hint of caramel for some sweetness and a fruity aroma. I loved this cheese as it was a harder cheese and you could taste the delicate balance between the brown butter and roasted nuts with a sweet finish. The combination of the hard nutty cheese and the zesty grapefruit flavours proved for another genius pairing.
Stilton Colston Basset (English) paired with B Ale, Ola Bush, 12 year old, Harviestoun Brewery in Clackmannanshire. This was the curve ball. The beer was dark and reminded me of treacle or marmite. It is aged in Highland Park 12 year old whisky barrels which provides the smokiness, the smells of leather, iodine and grilled steak. It’s rather exotic and I found it had the Pringle effect ‘once you pop you cant stop’. There was certainly something there that kept you sipping and going back for more. Paired with the stilton which was creamy and mellow with great blue vein coverage that melted in your mouth; this was my favourite of the night and I could easily have continued eating and drinking this cheese and beer combo all night.
At £19.50 per person these lovely hour long masterclasses are a perfect way to brush up on your knowledge of food and drink pairings, discover food and drink that you would never dream of pairing, and learn how to pair and give you the confidence to start experimenting with food and drink pairings at home. It honestly does transform the food when you get it right.
Galvin Brasserie De Luxe have another four masterclasses lined up from July to October and include Summer Fruits and Wine (which is the next masterclass in July) and Truffle and Wine in August.
These would make a fabulous gift for someone or just a wee treat for your inner foodie!
Galvin Brasserie De Luxe, Waldorf Astoria, Caledonia Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh Tel : 0131 222 8988 www.galvinbrasseriedeluxe.com
My Spoon Award : Silver