Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Italian Tasting Evening

June's tasting evening was a five course Italian meal.

To start, a Caponata. A slow cooked blend of vegetables, spiked with the spice of chilli, the sweetness of raisins and the acidity of capers. The slow cooking style lets the peppers, tomatoes, aubergine and onions flavours mix together. This is served at room temperature with bread to mop up all the juices.

The next course was Minestrone alla Milanese. This follows the classic tomato, vegetable and mixed bean soup, which is then enhanced with pork belly to give a light stew consistency.

Spaghetti Vongole is a very simple pasta with clams. The strength of the dish is with the quality and freshness of the clams.

The main course is Saltimbocca alla Romana. This is a thin slice of veal with Parma ham and sage. Simply sauteed, this is served with a Peperonata, a mix of peppers slow cooked  to develop their sweetness.

The final course is a lemon & vanilla panacotta. A mousse made with milk enthused with vanilla bean and lemon peel. We served this with a crisp almond biscuit as a contrast to the soft texture of the panacotta.

We kept to quite traditional recipes with this evening, highlighting the diversity of Italian food. This uses the idea of slowly prepared food using the freshness of the ingredients to their strength.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Meet The Brewer with Liverpool Organic Brewery

June 18th saw the second of our meet the brewer nights. This time with the Liverpool Organic Brewery.

Karl Critchly, the head brewer from Liverpool Organic lead us through a range of his beers, including one which was new to all of us (including Karl.)

The beers in order were:
  • 24 Carat Gold
  • Honey Blond
  • Best Bitter
  • Josephine Butler
  • Ship Wreck IPA
  • Imperial Russian Stout
The first three beers were decent quality session style. Gentle murmurs of appreciation for them all, very polite and sedate. It was the next 3 that made it a lot more interesting.

Josephine Butler is the new elderflower ale that had just finished conditioning in the bottle. This is the new experimental beer and, although slightly too sweet and floral for some tastes, was generally received well. Also by this time, the noise was growing gradually and the atmosphere was building nicely.

Next came the Shipwreck IPA. At 6.5%, it's quite a full on beer for some people. However the reaction was very good. The night was in full swing now which made it perfect for the final beer of the tasting, the Imperial Russian Stout. I'm happy to put this forward as one of my favourite beers, a really rich, decadent, chunky beast of a beer. Some people were tentative in their first sips, 8.1% being far stronger than they'd normally drink .But it actually ended as one of the most popular beers of the evening.

The final part of the evening is where the guests get to pick their own bottles. I was impressed to see how many went for a full bottle of the Imperial Russian Stout or Shipwreck IPA. Karl was similarly chuffed that a number went for his new project, Josephine Butler.

Great night and a big thanks to Karl for his help.