Saturday, January 13, 2007

UPDATED: Coming in March: "Extreme Belgian @ the Bistro New Albany."

The date will be Monday, March 5. Stay tuned for more information.


Q: What distinguishes Belgian cooking?
A: Chef Robert Wiedmaier:

"Good question. The big distinction is the Flemish influences. You have a lot of the Flemish aspects of Belgian cooking that really make it different from French cooking. More purees, more rustic. More shellfish. It's more peasantry Flemish cooking. If you take the non-Flemish side of Belgian cooking, it's the same as French. You have carbonade, beef braised in beer. And you can take those and add some finesse and make them interesting. You know, Belgium has some of the best restaurants in the world -- from small cafes to a grand restaurant."

Q. What distinguishes Belgian beer?

A: Michael Jackson (beer writer):

"Belgian beers have become fashionable, yet the pleasures they offer have been truly explored by only a discerning minority of drinkers. The rule, never ask for "a beer" applies especially in Belgium. Such a request will bring forth a perfectly acceptable lager of a type, but one that could just as easily be found in many other countries. The great beers of Belgium are not its lagers. Its native brews are in other styles, and they offer an extraordinary variety, some so different from more conventional brews that at the initial encounter they are scarcely recognisable as beers. Yet they represent some of the oldest traditions of brewing in the Western world."


Last July, there occurred an event unprecedented in the history of metropolitan Louisville.

It was the groundbreaking Bastille Day Bieres de Garde dinner at Bistro New Albany.

This dinner and beer tasting evolved in a very spontaneous fashion, given the desire … to stage fun events, multiple cases of Bieres de Gardes stacked in the Rich O’s storage area, and the overlap of Bastille Day with the Tour de France, which a few of us have witnessed while riding our own bikes in the vicinity. All these factors came together, and a fine time was had by all.

It was so much fun that we vowed to do it again, but for a variety of reasons it wasn’t possible to collaborate again … until now.

With no further fanfare, here’s the idea behind a beer dinner being planned for early March at the Bistro New Albany (exact date to be announced). Chef Dave Clancy will be conjuring a menu of appropriate victuals, and yours truly, the Publican and Curmudgeon, will be matching beers to the food.

Extreme Belgian @ the Bistro New Albany

As the passages above illustrate, epicures and beer aficionados alike already know that tiny Belgium hits well above its geographical weight when it comes to excellence in gastronomy and brewing.

Acknowledging the ever wider range of these culinary and fermentation influences, our notion of an "Extreme Belgian" beer dinner incorporates a gentle twist, because the bill of fare will be influenced by, but not necessarily beholden to, the Belgian classics in both food and drink, allowing for a creative expansion of the possibilities while remaining firmly in the Belgian milieu.

Chef Dave’s multi-course meal might be described as non-traditional, traditional Belgian, drawn from the country’s Flemish and French cultural heritage. The bottled beers I select will be flavorful Belgian styles, though not all from Belgium itself. At this stage, I’m sure of only two:

DeuS Brut des Flandres – Belgian-made sparkling ale matured like champagne with the “methode Champenoise.”

Panil Barrique – Flanders-style sour red/brown ale brewed in Italy (!) and aged in cognac barrels from Bordeaux.

I believe you catch my drift. There are numerous excellent Belgian ales brewed within Belgium, and probably just as many now being brewed elsewhere in the world. I intend to showcase some of the best of these in complementing Chef Dave's expertise in the kitchen.

More information will be coming as planning progresses, particularly the date and time, which I’ll post as soon as possible. Drop me a line and I'll start an e-mail list to keep potential attendees in the loop.

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