Field, the Food Studio and Joe – Beer Matching Dinners
Beer is delicious; food is delicious. But until recently literally no-one knew that beer and food was delicious together. I jest, of course, but the matching of top-notch beers with the finest local produce is still in its relative infancy in Edinburgh restaurants.
A couple of recent beer and food matching dinners at two of my favourite places in the city, Field and the Edinburgh Food Studio, offered a really interesting insight into what fun can be had. The common element: Joe Dick, the Edinburgh beer aficionado and Schofferhofer slinger.
First up was Field, the excellent cow-themed restaurant on West Nicolson Street. Head chef Georgia had put together an outstanding seven-course menu paired with beers of great variety and verve. The folks at Field are good pals of mine and so had extended an invitation to me and a guest to which I wasn’t ever going to say no.
My dining companion for the evening was the excellent Dani from Cross Borders Brewing. Also in attendance was the wonderful Amy from Edinburgh Foody who in classic small-world-Edinburgh had brought along Jonny also from Cross Borders.
With Joe at the helm explaining the beers, we opened with delicious Orval matched with an amazing amuse bouche of lightly pickled shallot cases filled with sheep’s milk cream on an onion crumb. It was a colossally impressive opener that set the tone for an outstanding evening.
The stout bread that then arrived was rhapsodically good and the accompanying butter superb.
Next up we had a beaut from Two Roads with a starter of one of the hotter balls I’ve had in a while. A tortellino stuffed with the most delicious short rib braised in IPA, it was knee-bucklingly satisfying.
A classic gose balanced a classic fish course of lightly cured salmon with brightly citrus salsify. Strong ticks were swooshed in appropriate boxes.
The main course of rabbit was matched with Stone’s Arrogant Bastard which is a brute of a beer. There was a lot going on with the strong battle of flavours, but both elements were very cleanly delivered.
We then entered sweeter territory with a killer combo of wibbly sour jellies with lime ice cream matched with devastating Petrus Red.
The Lindemans Cuvee Rene rather outshone the rhubarb and egg tart, but Rodenbach Grand Cru was given a run for its money by its cousin in marshmallow form and a stout infused meringue.
It was a feast of colossal skill and charm. My expectations for future beer matching dinners were set high.
These were tested a week later at the Edinburgh Food Studio. This time my dining companion was Our Beer Man. Again, Joe was our beer guide for the evening but this time the focus was squarely on spontaneous fermentation.
Chef Craig Grozier was at the helm with the Food Studio’s Sashana and Ben in their usual expert roles as co-pilot owners.
We started with a dish of exquisite poise and texture: chicken skin with alexanders and apricot matched with a knockout Boon geuze. It was a crisp hint of the majesty to follow.
Next up we had probably the best judged beer matched dish you’ll ever find. Room was left in a faithful pesto Genovese for SpontanBasil to provide all the herby basil content. It was transformative in approach and execution.
This week we had Cuvee Rene with charred leeks in a mushroom soup not with dessert as it had been served at Field. The dish was sublime but the matching didn’t quite hit home. It’s a great and versatile beer but the search for its food brother continues.
The next dish was the highlight for many with outstandingly fresh Orval served with malted grains, barley koji and Scots pine. It put me in mind of the fantastic puffed kamut dish that had been served at Scratch Series. As with that dish, I could have eaten about a hundredweight of it.
The main featured lamb with preserved lemon and kohlrabi with a power-packed Cascade Noyaux in accompaniment. The lamb belly went down a treat and the spectacular Food Studio sourdough was superb for mopping up all the wondrous juices.
Cascade again rounded things out this time with Sang Noir matching a malted seed topped chocolate slab with rowan shoot syrup. I think the beer alone could have done the job that the rowan shoot sourness brought, but it was still a dish of supreme quality.
All that was left was to delight in an elegant beer marshmallow then plan how to roll home as stylishly as possible.
So overall, these were two dinners that will live long in the memory. Field and the Food Studio approached the matching of beers to food differently and while the menus had some beers – and the excellent Joe – in common, the food offered flavours across an amazingly broad range. They were standout meals from standout restaurants and kitchen teams.
If this has whet your appetite for further beer and food events, you might be interested to note that I hear rumours of some interesting things happening in the run up to the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival at the end of May. Full details of that will appear soon, I imagine…