August 25, 2011

Special delivery beer pairing: Black Raspberries and golden apples

Full disclosure: Many bloggers receive free beer in the mail, then review it, but fail to mention they're reviewing complimentary samples. Not me. Sometimes I request samples for my stories; sometimes they're just sent. Lately, in addition to receiving emailed press releases about beers, I'm getting releases from various food publicists. These foodstuffs showing up on my doorstep is fun, but the publicist had nothing to show for it. I've never blogged reviews. Til now. Here's the second in my series of food sample + beer pairings*. (*IF the suggested beers are comped samples, I'll disclose that.)

My first and only visit to Cincinnati, like every trip, is forever associated with the food I ate. There are two classics that correlate to Cincy: Cincinnati chili (a la Skyline, Dixie, or Gold Star) and Graeter's Ice Cream. Everyone has a hands-down favorite among the former (after trying them all, I indeed have a favorite but ask me in private so as not to enrage particular friends there). As for Graeter's, I have a favorite flavor there, too, and it's oddly not my all-time flavorite (which is Mint-Chip): it's their Black Raspberry Chip. No surprise it's their top-seller.
This is premium stuff (and not just because the Mint Chi
p is not artificially colored). When my pregnant wife had a craving for coffee ice cream, the Mocha Chip hit the spot and her hormonal taste buds are prone to being disappointed rather than constantly enamored. I was equally fond.
When it comes to pairing ice cream and beer, the knee-jerk is rich creamy vanilla with equally rich yet chocolaty stout. Enjoyed side-by-side or increasingly popular as a float, I dabbled with both, selecting the unfortunately-named Dick's Cream Stout. Dick (Young)'s Brewery from near-ish Centralia, WA is ultra smooth and what I like about pairing with it is that since it's not particularly boozy (5% ABV), it keeps the float refreshing. Woe that we don't get Dick's Root Beer in Oregon, I selected the local Crater Lake Root Beer simply because it's local and natural. Fortuitously, the strong vanilla bean flavor drowned out the root beer's toothpastiness from it's trumped up wintergreen. If you think you're sensing a theme, you are.

Craft ice cream, just like craft beer, is best enjoyed provincially. When consulting with one of the founders of the forthcoming Cincinnati Beer Week, I recommended partnering with Graeter's to do a series of floats and pairings. (Let's see if they're game.) I hesitate to say ice cream needs to be fresh since, hello, it's frozen, but whereas eating Graeter's in Cincy or even anywhere in the vicinity of Ohio/Kentucky is a must, I'm not sure the benefits of distributing a flavor like Vanilla to the West Coast. Julie's and Alden's are excellent locally made vanilla ice creams and cost about the same a pint of Graeter's. (For a tragi-comedic story, click on BonAppetit's "Supermarket Standoff" where someone judged the winner because, in his or her words, "I like seeing the vanilla flecks."

The kicker here is that I heartily recommend rushing out and trying the Black Raspberry Chip. The berries are sourced from, where else, right here in Oregon! Why have I never seen a raspberry chip ice cream here before? If I'm going to eat a fruit flavored ice cream, it's gotta be something special. I love strawberries but can't stand most of this pink concoctions. Graeter's succeeds by making it almost taste like gelato. It's both true to the puree as well as immensely creamy, and really, what ice cream isn't ameliorated with chocolate chips, or in this case, shavings? To pair with it, rather than go with a difficult beer pairing that would play well with the fruit, the chocolate, and the cream, I went with an apple cider from Eaglemount. Several varieties showed up on the shelf at Belmont Station and I was relieved the simple yet sophisticated packaging (swingtop, too!) didn't belie the contents. The fact that the cider was decidedly fruity yet crisp and dry helped jar my palate without piling sweet upon sweet. Perhaps not as healthy as eating a fruit salad or apple-raspberry smoothie, but the pairing made for a light-feeling dessert and is anything but expected.

1 comment:

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