Beer and cheese?
At Restaurant Eugene, you can now get your cheese plate paired with wine, sherry or ... beer. "There's a natural match just in flavor profile between beer and cheese," says Eugene's chef, Linton Hopkins. "I actually think they match better than wine. I mean, wine and cheese can be sublime, but beer and cheese seems to be more universal, they seem to match on a wider spectrum."
The restaurant is now featuring a bottle of St. Feuillien triple, a lovely malty Belgian beer that comes in a 750-milliliter bottle, with four cheeses, for $30. "This beer goes great with all those wonderful cheddars and sheep shepherd cheeses, and those flinty cooked milk cheeses," Hopkins says.
On the third Thursday of every month, the restaurant hosts a "celebration of cheese," an event that highlights cheeses from a specific region. Usually the cheeses are paired with wines, but this month Hopkins is pairing California cheeses with California beers. The event takes place Thurs., June 15, and Hopkins plans on doing more cheese and beer tastings in the future. Check out the restaurant's website for the cheese celebration schedule.
You've heard about wine dinners, but how about beer dinners? A few restaurants around town have taken the popular format of the wine dinner and applied it to beer, matching different beers with different courses, and using food and beer to bring out the best in each other. The Flying Biscuit in Candler Park (1655 McLendon Ave., 404-687-8888, www.flyingbiscuit.com) now holds these dinners once a month, each dinner featuring a local brewery. A representative of the brewery comes along and speaks to guests about the beers and their food pairings. "The response has been incredibly positive," says the Flying Biscuit's owner, Delia Champion. "These dinners are selling out every month. I think if a person says, 'Yeah, I don't mind beer,' and they go and pair it with really good food, then they start to love beer." The beer dinners are a learning experience for everyone, including the restaurant. There are difficult questions that come up, such as what beer to pair with dessert. To find out what they decided, check out the next beer dinner, to be held July 7, featuring the Highland Brewing Company from Asheville, N.C. For more info and reservations, call or visit the website.
Restaurants rethink beer
Beer is becoming a principle ingredient in some of the city's best kitchens, and it's not just being used for batter anymore. Repast (620 N. Glen Iris Drive, 404-870-8707, www.repastrestaurant.com), the new restaurant in Ponce Springs Lofts, offers a mussels appetizer cooked with Sweetwater 420 (pictured right). The resulting broth is so delicious, I slurped it up with a spoon as if it were soup. Over at One Midtown Kitchen (559 Dutch Valley Road, 404-892-4111, www.onemidtownkitchen.com), chef Richard Blais has been putting beer to good use ever since he took over the kitchen there. He's also using beer (the menu says "vaporized beer") to complement mussels. Battered and fried fish is accompanied by a Guinness reduction, a curiously sweet and sticky substance smeared across the plate. While you're there, check out Numbers Ale, the beer that was specially formulated by Bob Amick and Todd Rushing and the Atlanta Brewing Company. The beer is served at all of Amick and Rushing's restaurants, and is surprisingly food-friendly, with honey notes and a refreshing bitter finish.
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