Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cooking with Beer's Lucy Saunders visits noVa

"I think of beer as food," says Lucy Saunders, author of the new Best of American Beer & Food.

From her blog:

In the opening of Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring,” there’s a wonderful set of “call and response” chords that progress in intensity and are so refreshing, repeated in variations throughout the suite. The music was a score for a ballet by Martha Graham and I think of pairing beer and food as live performance, subtly influenced by mood and environment. The right music will lift my mood and make me enjoy my environment - even when I’m stuck behind the desk. I listen to jazz and classical music when I write, and rock and roll when I cook. My bakeware is stored in the basement to make room for stereo speakers in the kitchen. Something about the clatter of pans and smoke from searing meats matches best with the English Beat or the Decemberists. But when I’m thinking about pairings, I think about flavor progressions that build in tonal intensity, the “call and response” of malt to caramel, of citrus to hops, of apple or banana yeast esters to warming spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

Beer, food, music, life: it's all about context. Would a good beer be as good if sampled in solitude?

Lucy Saunders was in the DC area a few weeks back. I met up with her - and Greg Kitsock of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News - at Rustico Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia.

We sat at the chef's table.

Chef Frank Morales was just back from creating a Sam Adams Utopias beer dinner for a select audience, including Jim Koch, at Walt Disney World. Still feeling the Muse, he created an amazing small portions menu for us. Beer manager Greg Engert paired the plates with beers.

Can I remember the items? Unfortunately, no. Other than writing down about the use of wood (beginning that night) in the 700°F Italian pizza oven, I didn't take notes.

But you can see photos of the dinner, here on Flickr. Great pizza being a combination between the sauce and the dough, look at that perfect crust!

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