Beer expert Crystal Luxmore pairs to Chef Amanda Cohen’s cuisine for the Terroir Symposium.
Plants are naturally delicious—and chef Amanda Cohen from NYC’s Dirt Candy has proven that by applying the same level of thought and technique to vegetables as we do with meat—they can become divine. Beer is a simple beverage, made up of just four ingredients, water, yeast, and two plants—hops and barley. So it makes sense that its plant-like flavours, ranging from zingy lemon-like hops, to toasted bread, or plum-like yeast, sync up effortlessly with veggies.
As a Certified Cicerone I was tasked with pairing up two of Cohen’s vegetarian dishes for Terroir with any two beers from Muskoka Brewery’s regular lineup. Luckily their offerings are diverse and food-friendly—here’s what to drink with your dishes.
Mini carrot sliders: Steamed Carrot Buns with Confit Carrots, Crispy Yuba, Soy Cucumbers and Special Hoisin Sauce.
Muskoka Cream Ale: with its rich amber colour and inviting floral tones, this laid-back English pub-style ale is smooth and easy-going.
Carrot’s natural sweetness will find harmony in the sweet, baguette centre of this crisp ale. The ale’s ample bubbles have a cleansing effect on the salty, umami hoisin factor, leaving you ready for the next bite. In the world of experimental craft brewing and high-alcohol double IPA’s, this retro Cream Ale (one of the first true North American beer styles) is a welcome refresher, showcasing beer’s delicious simplicity. Plus there’s no better beer to toast Muskoka’s 20th Birthday with than their flagship brew, the first recipe on their roster when they opened in 1996.
Mini beet sliders: Steamed Beet Buns with Smoked Beets, Dill Pesto, Fried Pickles and Horseradish Cream
Muskoka Mad Tom: Dry-hopped with Chinook and Centennial hops, this IPA has a vibrant aroma, depth of flavour, and crisp citrusy undertow like no other.
These little sliders have a lot going on, earthy beets are smoked, and fiery horseradish and dill are carefully chosen accoutrements. The bundle of “Big C” American hops in Mad Tom imbue it with peppery, grapefruit notes that will play nicely with the dill and horseradish, and the beer’s ample bitterness will elevate the beet’s sweet, earthy core. Finally, the dish’s smoky flavour should gain new complexity in the caramel malt backbone of this award-winning, American-style India Pale Ale.