(Catch-up post: this has been on my to do list for almost two months!)
It was the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout that did it.
I’d been waxing lyrical to Dominique, proprietor of Hardy’s Brasserie, and she was nodding and clearly starting to enjoy the beers I’d brought for her to taste. Then, as I opened the Brooklyn Stout, I said something that was potentially very rash.
“This is a perfect dessert beer. No, seriously, beers can match perfectly with dessert. In fact – taste that, it’s gorgeous – in fact, you could just pour this beer over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it would be wonderful.”
“No,” said Dominique, incredulously.
“Absolutely, I promise.”
“Ok then.” And Dominique stood up suddenly.
At this point I remembered that she was a restaurateur. And that we were having our conversation at a table just outside her restaurant.
Two minutes later, Dominique returned with a dish of home made vanilla ice cream. I tried not to let my nervousness show as I poured the beer over it.
A minute after that, after the oohs and aahs, and mmmms, she simply said, “Right I’m convinced. So how do we go about organising this beer and food matching dinner then?
Three weeks later, with a slight change of ingredient in a nod to an up-and-coming local brewer, ‘Stout poured over ice cream’ had become ‘Vanilla Ice Cream Affogato with Kernel Export Stout’ (you get to call it that when it’s a chef that pours the beer on the ice cream). And it was one of six choices for dessert on a three course beer and food matching menu at Hardys Bar and Brasserie
, Fitrovia, Central London.
|There’s a good reason why portlier blokes should be wary of having their photos taken with slim, attractive women. I actually look about twice as big here as I do in real life.
It’s always a pleasure talking to fellow fans of craft beer. But it’s an even greater pleasure to convert new people to the delights of beer. Once convinced, Dominique leapt into the world of beer appreciation with a dedication and professionalism that was inspiring to watch. Within three weeks, the brasserie’s beer list had gone from Becks, Budvar, Kronenbourg and Hoegaarden to include Kernel porters, stouts and IPAs, Schiehallion, Westmalle, Brooklyn, Ola Dubh and many more.
And rather than stop there, having made the investment Dominique went to great lengths to make sure the evening was a success. The restaurant was full to bursting on the night, mainly with curious foodies rather than beer fans. I did a talk and beer tasting, signed a few books, then we sat down to the menu with beer recommendations worked out between us, ably assisted by Mike at Utobeer.
It was one of the best events I’ve been involved with. Afterwards, Dominique said, “Hardy’s beer dinner was a great success! Pete’s talk and tutored tasting was the perfect combination of information and entertaining anecdotes. Our wine drinking regulars surprised themselves at how well the beer complemented the food. Particular highlights for us were The Kernel Pale Ale Centennial with the delicious Barbecued Ribs (recipe taken from Pete’s recommended BBQ bible) and the Duchesse de Bourgogne, a slightly sour red Belgian beer with Stilton. We are now trying to finalise a new interesting beer list and it’s a tough choice as my mind and palate have been opened to this vast, exciting new world. We are also thinking of offering a Christmas menu with beer matching.”
Since the dinner, the beer list has evolved and expanded. I often say you can’t tell people about beer and food, you have to show them. Hardy’s is certainly showing them now. If you’re ever in London, check them out.
And thanks once again to Niki ‘The Flavour Thesaurus’ Segnit for making that auspicious first meeting happen.