Beer Journal

A quasi-daily examination of beer and things related to beer.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dinner Menu: Boeuf Bourguignon

This evening marked my first attempt at blogging while cooking, and it doubled as my first crack at one of the more famous signature dishes in all the culinary world, Julia Childs's boeuf bourguignon. It's a traditional French recipe, akin to a beef stew or carne asada. For dessert, I served a cheesecake with raspberries. Naturally, both courses were accompanied by some excellent beer accouterments.

Unfortunately, my endeavor started behind the 8-ball. I didn't have any red wine, and I was short a couple of the seasonsings. Still, I set out with what I had. The dish started with some chopped bacon in a pan; the pieces were taken out and replaced with the fat by butter, mooncap mushrooms and white onion.

That mixture cooked for a while and was then placed in a separate dish. Back into the original pan went more butter (It's a French recipe, what'd you expect?), along with some cubed sirloin. The meat gave me in the inspiration for the accompanying dinner beers, a pair of Chimays (rouge and bleue). The Bleue is a little darker and sweeter than the rouge (which has a robust brown color of its own), but both have an earthy tone that stands up well to strong red meats. And in addition to being a great flavor match, I thought the provincial France/Belgium combination to be somewhat fitting.

To the beef was added some flour and the wine to make a gravy, and here's where the Monty and Julia script really went off the tracks. Riesling took the place of the burgundy, and while the mixture stewed, the difference was noticeable. But after cooking for a while, the scent of the wine burned off, and into the pot went some sage and thyme, as well as the mushrooms, onions and bacon.

While this mixture simmered, I quickly threw the soft egg noodles into a pan with a lot more butter. (And yes, I'm fairly certain that Dan got a kick out of the phrase "threw the soft egg noodles".) Those noodles were then plated and topped with the beef mixture, as you saw in this articles first picture.

Dessert was a plain cheesecake topped with whipped cream and raspberries. It was served with a glass of Lindemans Framboise Lambic, a raspberry beer that is also from Belgium. The lambic is extremely sweet, a characteristic that makes it a perfect match for less-sweet, creamy desserts. It's worth storing away that Lindemans is the perfect introductory brew for dates unaccustomed to ordering beers.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Now on Tap: Raison D'Etre

Raison D'Etre

Brewer: Dogfish Head, Milton, Delaware, United States

Style: "A deep mahogany ale"

ABV: 8.0%

A few years back, Esquire magazine named this the best beer in America. It's certainly one of the more ambitious, as this beer is brewed with Belgian sugar beets and green raisins, a selection of ingredients that should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Dogfish Head's methods.

Raison D'Etre starts of sweet, with the flavor of brown sugar the initial note. There is a malty feel to most of the drink, with the taste of raisins coming on towards the end. All of this expected and altogether tasty, but the closing - a wash of dryness that you'd associate more with a wine than a beer - might be off-putting to taste buds not accustomed to their beers sticking around longer than usual. This is a beer for port drinkers.

I really wanted to love this beer. Other Dogfish brews are among my favored drinks, and the unusual selection of ingredients had piqued my interest. I'm not sure what I expected Raison D'Etre to taste like. Maybe I was expecting something a lot sweeter than what I got. And while I can't withhold points because it didn't meet my unstated (and unsolicited) expectations, it's not a beer that I will frequent. Even so, it's worth trying, if only for the appreciation of the craft.

Rating: 6.5

Recommended with: Since I expected something sweet here, I would suggest that this drink be enjoyed with what it's missing: how about some green grapes and almonds, or going the other way, some black olive tapenade on French bread toast?