The winners are in this year’s Great British Menu, and so overcome by excitement was I that I forgot to actually post this and I’m a week late. View this then as an early ‘repeat’ episode, and for dessert a few, final, beer pairings.
The starter was won by Colin McGurran from the north east, with an arboreal dish entitled ‘Quail In The Woods’. Unsurprisingly, this featured our old culinary sacrifice coturnix ypsilophora. Dead and in parts scattered over a clearing in an ancient woodland, like an attack by a Michelin Starred Fox, it did look extremely tasty and the addition of some forest mist added to the Olympian drama (although the word ‘Mist’ always me giggle childishly, as in German it means ‘Poo’, or at least something to that effect). The only problem with the dish as my good lady wife pointed out was, ‘Would you really want to eat your meal off a log’. To which the answer would be, ‘If I’d had five pints of Pedigree, quite likely, yes’. In fact I’m going for Asahi Black – the quail was coated in a miso glaze and this beer has enough robustness to it to complement that but smoothness from the bottom fermentation not to beat up the quail, Yakuza style.
The fish was the humble makerel treated with real respect by Phil Howard. His ‘Tasting of Cornish Mackerel’ was a standout dish and rightly won through. And, slightly lazy though it may seem, my previous recommendation will knock your socks off: Paulaner Dunkel. Erdinger also do a Dunkel Weisse, which would give a different character to the pairing but would be good all the same.
Daniel Clifford from the Midlands won the prized main with his ‘Slow Poached Chicken’. I’m not sure if he had poached it, or just bought it like most people, but it certainly looked drop-dead gorgeous. The formula for success was underlined in this dish, take something slightly old school and give it a contemporary edge and you’re away. I’ll drink to that with a glass of Hawkshead Windermere Pale, a pleasant light ABV to allow you to enjoy your main dish, but enough cut through from the zingy hop (Amarillo?) to put the cluck into the chuck.
And finally, after getting in the top three with every single course, Simon Rogan from Cartmel in Cumbria won the pud with his ‘Poached Pears, Anise Hyssop Snow, Rosehip syrup, Hazlenuts and Sweet Cheese Ice Cream’ pud. Another standout dish which created a genuine ‘wow’ not just through the techniques deployed but also the combination of flavours from the ingredients. And so, a ‘wow’ beer is needed. In the heats it was a glass of Cain’s Dark Mild; this time, rather than a contrast I shall go for a complentary flavour. Alas, I don’t think it’s currently imported into the UK, but I would recommend a brilliant Belgian style wheat beer here, in fact a Dutch wheat beer. The quirky, rodent friendly Gulpener Korenwolf gets the nod. Brewed with four grains including spelt and rye, and elderflower petals, a Dutch beer may not be how you expect to end a British Olympic feast, but it shows how far we have come as a society since the last time we held the Games in 1948.
© David Preston, Beer Tinted Spectacles 2012