All Ears team member Linda Eckwerth (who spends hours working behind the scenes) attended the Food and Beer pairing at Via Napoli!
I attended the Food & Beer Pairing in Italy on October 2nd. This event was presented for the first time in 2011. I am not a big beer drinker, but thought it would be fun to learn more about beer and food pairings. This event is held on Tuesdays at Via Napoli from 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM and cost $55.00.
Our hosts for the afternoon were Gabriele, the manager and Jackie, the beer distributor.
Our first course was a Saffron Risotto Rice Ball stuffed with a meat ragu and mozzarella. We were served Amiata Birra, Contessa an Italian Pale Ale from Tuscany. We tasted the beer before consuming any food and it had a bitter, hoppy, light citrus taste. I did not care for it. However, once I started tasting the beer with the food, the beer became much more enjoyable. The bitterness seemed to disappear. The risotto rice ball was crispy and had creamy texture inside. There was very little meat in the center and the red sauce was light and flavorful.
The second course was pizza. It was half margherita, half Quattro formaggi and was an individual size. This pizza brought me right back to Italy. It is not like “American” pizza. It is not heavy with sauce or cheese. The crust is light and is wood fired, which gives it a slight smoke flavor. The beer served was Birrificio L'Olmaia, La Nove. This is an amber ale from the Tuscany region. It had a caramel malty flavor with fine bubbles. This is truly a craft beer as it is a two person brewery.
The third course was a veal dish with onion, potato and a white wine, butter and herb sauce. The veal was tender and the sauce was amazing. I wanted to pick my plate up and drink the sauce, but opted for soaking my bread in it to get every last drop! The beer was Birrificio Grado Plato, Strada San Felice which is an amber ale from the Piedmont region. The big surprise is this beer is brewed with oven roasted chestnuts. This gives the beer a dark caramel color with a nutty flavor. This was my favorite beer of the four.
Our fourth and last course was dessert. Yes, beer was served with this course. We finished the meal with vanilla gelato, cookie, and amarena cherries. I am always a sucker for good gelato, which this was, and the cherries were an added bonus. The beer was Birrificio L'Olmaia, PVK a golden ale from the Tuscany region. It had a touch of sweetness, like honey, with citrus and floral flavors. I never knew beer could go so nicely with an ice cream like dessert.
In conclusion, I feel this pairing is well worth the $55.00 price. I learned beer is tasted in a similar manner as wine. One must look at the color, bubbles and the smell. All of the tastings were crafted beers from smaller breweries in Italy. Three of the beers were bottled in a larger bottle, similar to wine, known as a Butterfly Bottle. We were told the breweries wanted to stay true to Italy's wine culture.
The previous post in this blog was AllEars.Net Meet and Greet at the UK Pavilion.
The next post in this blog is 2012 Food and Wine Festival Merchandise.