Beer and food matching at the Durham

11 Mar

I’ve been procrastinating instead of writing my review of the October beer and food matching lunch at the Durham for a while now (well, five months, to be clear!), but news from the Riot Act that there’s yet another coming up at the end of March has properly kicked me into gear to tell you all about it.

Cheese souffle - lots of rocket!

The basic premise of the beer and food matching lunch – or cutely termed ‘beergustation – is that you get a whole heap of meals, and each is paired with a fine alcoholic beverage (usually beer – thus the name). The chosen foods (should) help articulate the flavours of the beers, and the beers make the food taste even better. The beers on show were White Rabbit and Little Creatures. Back in my university days, I do recall proclaiming that I thought Little Creatures beers tasted like Clag glue. (Yes, I’m pretty sure I tasted Clag glue back in the primary school days. It’s a distinctive taste! I’m sure I’m not the only one…) This memory stayed with me when we booked our seats for the event at the Durham, but I can now say that the beer formula has changed OR my tastes have matured OR I was simply pretentious (likely) OR – most likely – the foods that day really did showcase the beers: by the end of the day I was a fan.

Lamb cutlets

At the Durham, you’re all seated around big long tables. Boyfriend and I were seated across from each other and there was a wide variety of people attending: we had a father and (adult) daughter on one side, and a group of what seemed like workmates on the other. It’s not just a day of eating and drinking (though that features quite heavily!) – the hosts spend a great deal of the afternoon educating you about what you’re drinking. The tables were lined with little jars of hops, barley etc and we were encouraged to smell them and eat them to get a sense of what had really developed the flavours in each of the beers. (Do NOT eat the hops unless you are really keen.)

The first course was a cheese souffle, topped with quite a lot of rocket – the peppery taste was a clever accompaniment to the cheesy goodness. If Manu Feildel were there, he wouldn’t be asking, “Where’s the sauce?” (Sorry, have been

White Ale with the lamb

watching a bit too much My Kitchen Rules) – there was plenty of sauce. The souffle was served with a tasty Pilsener.

The second course was a lamb cutlet on a carrot mash, served with what I think were juniper berries and goji berries. I don’t think I’ve ever had meat with berries before, but after that dish I’m convinced they’re a great flavour combination. The lamb was probably a little too overcooked for my liking, but when you’re cooking the same dish at the same time for 50 people, I think the chef can be forgiven. It was served with the White Rabbit White Ale – not my favourite beer of the day, but a good accompaniment to the lamb.

The third course were prawns, served on a bed of rocket (must have had an oversupply of rocket?). They were cooked well, but probably could have had more sauce. We were served a Little Creatures Pale Ale with this.

Prawns

The dishes had come out quite quickly up until this point, and we were convinced we’d be in and out in under two hours, but after the third course it was quite a long wait until we were served our next one. My tastebuds had been so tantalised that I started nibbling on the barley (!). At this time, the beers were served well before the dish, which was a shame.

Roast beef

The fourth course was roast beef with smashed potatoes, some stringy asparagus and a few tomatoes (but plenty of sauce!). The dish was unfortunately a bit cold, which detracted from the flavours. Again though, when you’re cooking so many meals for so many people, I can hardly criticise. This was served with a White Rabbit Dark Ale. I’m not usually a fan of dark ales, but this was superb.

The penultimate course was a mango tarte tatin with a big dollop of ice cream. I’m not a fan of mango (very unAustralian, I know), but this was easy to eat. It was served with the Pipsqueak cider. The mango was a bit tart, which offset the sweetness of the cider, but it still wasn’t really a combo that worked well for me.

Mango tarte tatin with ice cream and cider

The last dish was a plate of cheeses and crackers which we shared among a few of us. I was clearly so excited by the cheeses that I managed to not take a photo until there was basically nothing left on anyone’s plates! This was served with the Little Creatures one-off Dreadnought. It was described as a bit like guinness. Neither Boyfriend nor I liked it – it was always going to be divisive, but it was a struggle to finish it.

Finally, the hosts also gave out raffle tickets at the beginning, and randomly drew out ticket numbers throughout the event with valuable prizes like beer and pint glasses, and not so desirable prizes like poorly fitting t-shirts. We were excited to win a Pipsqueak Cider pint glass (gotta love free things).

For 59 bucks, it was great value. The day dragged a little in the middle, but I was happily introduced to beers I’d never have sought out myself (even a beer brand that I’d diligently avoided), and got a much better sense of

(Someone else's) cheese platter (because we'd finished ours by the time I remembered to take a pic)

what I like and don’t like in a beer. It was a communal atmosphere, but remained incredibly civilised. (The date also coincided with one of the Rugby World Cup finals (Aus v NZ?), and the event was a good precursor for more drinking!) It certainly made me keen to try out more beergustations, and we have: one at the Belgian Beer Cafe this past January (yes, I still have to write about that, too) and, you guessed it – we’ll be heading back to the Durham in a few weeks’ time to try a few different beers (and some that we mentioned here) with a few new tastes.

Date: Sunday, 16 October 2011

Attendees: T1 and Boyfriend

Cost: $59.90 each

Worthwhile factor? Highly worthwhile

Want more? http://the-riotact.com/beer-food-the-durham-its-on-again/67264

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One Response to “Beer and food matching at the Durham”

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  1. Beer and food matching at the Durham – take 2 « In The Taratory - March 30, 2012

    […] this month I blogged extensively about our last (October) beer and food matching experience at the Durham, so I’m going to […]

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