Today is the Beer Chef, Bruce Paton’s 58th birthday. Bruce has been doing fantastic dinners pairing great beer and gourmet food for over ten years in the Bay Area, since 2001 at the Cathedral Hill Hotel, where, until recently, he was the Executive Chef. He’s about to start working at Miss Pearl’s Jam House in Oakland’s Jack London Square, so hopefully we soon starting seeing more of his beer dinners. I’ve been to many, many of Bruce’s food events and they’re all spectacularly top notch. He did around eight each year. Raise a toast and stuff your face in wishing Bruce a very happy birthday.
My hands down favorite photo of Bruce, which I took for the Chef’s Association of the Pacific Coast newsletter. I don’t think this is the one they used, but, by far, as I think it captures Bruce’s spirit and his great love and passion for what he does with his cooking and beer.
Giving a cooking demonstration with Garret Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table at the 2005 GABF.
Bruce with Russian River co-owner Natalle Cilurzo.
Me and Bruce New Year’s Day a few years ago at Barclay’s.
I know it’s late notice but Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, is doing a beer dinner tomorrow night, Thursday April 11, in conjunction with the Sonoma Film Festival. The dinner is sponsored by New Belgium Brewing but also features beer from several breweries. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at Ramekins Culinary School & Inn located at 450 West Spain Street in Sonoma. Tickets for the four-course dinner are $75 and can be purchased at Eventbrite. Sean’s dinners tend to be amazing, and I’m confident this one will be no different. And because it’s a school night, it’s a modest dinner by his standards, a good one to start with if you haven’t been to one his extravaganzas before.
Here’s the menu:
Duck fat fried heirloom popcorn, dusted in fennel pollen, grains of paradise and truffle salt
cedar smoked bacon fat popped popcorn with tomato powder, thyme salt and porcini mushroom dust
“The Bejkr” dough baked in the wood oven with Russian River Consecration barrel staves, shaved fennel, Sonoma Dry Jack, local olive oil, sea salt and chili
The Man Who Lived on His Bike
Sea scallops poached in Sunshine Wheat and bergamot peel, sautéed lacinato kale with sage, green beans, and Tripel coriander sabayon
Paired with Brewery Vivant Biere De Garde
Bird and Business
Sonoma County chicken and duck, mixed with Lips of Faith Cascara Quad soaked dates, caramelized shallots, black garlic sausage on a breaded Paul’s Produce rutabaga film reel, escarole & green garlic topped with a abbey coffee mustard sauce
Pt. Reyes Bay Blue, Laura Chenel Cheese, Delice de la Vallee with Abbey Ale orange peel honey, La Folie beer jelly, clove smoked cashews, hop salt, local breads and crackers
Paired with Lost Abbey Bretta Beer and Prickly Passion Saison
1554 beer brittle topped with dark chocolate, toasted pistachio and smoked salt with Heavenly Feijoa beer marshmallow dipped in white chocolate with rose dust
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
Peach Porch Lounger ice cream with Tripel caramel ripple with Biere de Mars goat milk sherbet
Paired with Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout and Transatlantique Kriek
Today’s infographic is from, of all places, Betty Crocker’s Brew House, with their chart entitled “Beer Me — Choose Your Own Adventure.” Walk through the choices to help you decide what beer to drink, then follow the suggestions on what food to pair it with.
Thursday’s ad is for Carling Black Label, from 1953. It’s from their “People Like It” series, and features a big hunk of cheese to pair with your beer. Even back then they knew that cheese and beer is a divine pairing, though I have to wonder if that’s the right beer for that cheese. Everything old is new again.
Tonight, many fans of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, will celebrate Burns Night with a meal of Haggis, Scotch Whisky and a night of poetry reading. Though Burns was apparently a whisky drinker, I feel confident saying he probably also drank beer and there are plenty of ways you could incorporate beer and whisky into your evening. I nominate for your poetry recitation, Burns’ version of the popular folksong John Barleycorn, which is believed to have originated sometime in the 16th century. Burns wrote his in 1782, and because of his fame, is one the most oft quoted versions. Here’s how I summarized it in a post about John Barleycorn a few years ago:
Primarily an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking, the main character—the eponymous John Barleycorn—is the personification of barley who is attacked and made to suffer indignities and eventually death. These correspond roughly to the stages of barley growing and cultivation, like reaping and malting. Some scholars see the story as pagan, representing the ideology of the cycles of nature, spirits and the pagan harvest, and possibly even human sacrifice. After John Barleycorn’s death, he is resurrected as beer, bread and whisky. Some have also compared it to the Christian transubstantiation, since his body is eaten as bread and drank as beer.
There were three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head;
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerfu’ spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surprised them all.
The sultry suns of summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel armed wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.
The sober autumn entered mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Showed he began to fail.
His colour sickened more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They’ve ta’en a weapon long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgelled him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appeared,
They tossed him to and fro.
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him ‘tween two stones.
And they hae ta’en his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise;
‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy:
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
Here’s a fun little “decision chart” from Faultline helping you figure out which type of Belgian beer to choose, and what to eat with your beer. The info on the chart was put together by Ryan Sweeny from Little Bear, a Belgian beer cafe in Los Angeles. Apart from the chart butchering the spelling of Tripel, it’s a fun, simple, potentially useful chart for the uninitiated looking to enjoy some belgian beer.
This should be a great event. Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, has teamed up with Point Reyes Cheese for an amazing day of cheese and beer. On Saturday, December 8th from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, Sean will be at the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, makers of the wonderful Point Reyes Blue, among others. The day will include “an educational walking farm tour, focused cheese tasting and a demonstration class led by Home Brew Chef, Sean Paxton. This special day will include a craft-beer-inspired and paired 4-course lunch. This educational experience is definitely for beer and food lovers!” It would also make a great early Christmas present, too. Wouldn’t you rather be drinking beer, eating cheese and taking in the beauty of nature than fighting the Christmas shopping crowds?
The luncheon will include beer from Anderson Valley, Bear Republic, Lagunitas and Russian River. Here’s the full menu:
Hog Island oysters topped with an iced Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout mignonette, crumbled Original Blue Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
A homage to pot pie: local root vegetables and Willie Bird turkey breasts braised in Russian River Temptation with a thyme New Blue barley crust Russian River Temptation
Local lamb cheeks braised in Lagunitas Brewing Co. Cappuccino Stout on a bed of mashed potatoes infused with Toma, sautéed winter greens and garnished with a Marin County gremolata Lagunitas Brewing Brown Shugga ‘10
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye beer caramel mixed into a mascarpone mousse, layered with a fall spiced Red Rocket Ale cake, garnished with a pumpkin seed Heritage Ale brittle Bear Republic Heritage Ale
Tickets can be purchased online and are $120 per person. That includes everything; a Walking Farm Tour, Focused Cheese Tasting, and the Four Course Cooking Demonstration with Lunch & Craft Beer Pairings by Sean Paxton over four and a half hours.