Thursday, March 5, 2015

From the Other Side of the Counter

I'm at Great News this morning but I'm on the other side of the counter, rather than teaching.  My friend Jenny Goycochea is teaching Craft Beer Comfort Foods.  Jenny is passionate about food, but craft beers are her specialty.  Having worked for Stone Brewery when I first met her, she is the oracle when it comes to knowing about craft beer.  Note here, I'm not a beer drinker.

Our first pour is a Ballast Point Big Eye....this is a hoppy and acidic beer to my taste, served alongside some swoon-worthy crab cakes with a spicy IPA hollandaise and frisee salad.  The balance of the rich crab cakes with the spicy hollandaise and a bitter green salad with a champagne vinaigrette was the perfect start for the morning.

Our next dish is a Pale Ale Mac and Cheese with sun dried tomatoes, kale, aged cheddar and Gruyere.  The pairing for this was Stone Pale Ale.  Who doesn't love Mac and Cheese?  This was delicious, and I have to admit I liked the pairing of the pale ale with the richness of the mac and cheese.

Pizza is my middle name so the beer crust flat bread with caramelized onions, potatoes, goat cheese and arugula made with a Brown Ale, was right up my alley.  Paired with Golden Road Get Up Off of that Brown, the balance of flavors here is right on with the sweetness of the onions, and the creaminess of the goat cheese was spectacular.

Next up is a Moroccan Chicken and Stout Stew  with Horseradish and Herb Mashed potatoes.  Jenny has chosen a Guinness extra which is a dry stout, rather than the sweeter Guinness.  

Savory with Rash al Hanout, these chicken thighs were falling off the bone tender, and the contrast between the smooth spicy potatoes and the rich Stout enriched broth was outstanding.  I'm not a spicy food person, but all these flavors were so well balanced, you wanted another bite after the first one.
Last but not least we have Jenny's take on banana pudding, with home made vanilla cookies, roasted bananas  and Thunderweizen Lightning Hefeweizen in the pudding, candied pecans and caramel.  Not your mama's banana pudding for sure, the Hefeweizen was light, with a bit of a sweet taste, that complimented the banana pudding, and the caramel.  Between the crunch of the cookies, and nuts, the creaminess of the pudding, and the silky caramel this is a dessert worth 5 stars, with a few components that can be made ahead of time.
Just FYI, I started eating before I took the photo---it was sublime!

When I sit in on a cooking class I learn something new, no matter how long I've been doing this, I always take something away.  Jenny is an exceptional teacher; she gives you great information, and the flavors of the food show that she puts thought into balancing sweet, spicy, creamy, and crunchy to make each dish something to savor.  Great morning, drinking beer before noon. If you are interested in craft beers, Jenny is teaching a few classes at Great News in the next few months, so sign up now!