Some like it crisp and light. Some like it deep and malty. Some like it hoppy and bitter. Regardless of your favorite flavor profiles many (read:all) can agree that beer is one of the world's best creations. Beer itself dates back to the time of our ancestors and founding fathers. The fermentation of barley was quick and easy and created an appetizing beverage to be enjoyed by all. In more recent history, beer has taken on a new life. With craft beer production (and consumption) on the rise more and more people are discovering the tastes and flavors they like best and how to spot and hone in on these flavors. With all of these new beers to try and newfound beer enthusiasts there has been a rise in pairing beers with food just as wines have been paired for years. Each flavor, malt level, and hop level emphasizes or complements certain aspects of a meal and bring out the best in a dish. Discovering these pairing is almost just a fun as tasting them.
On the lighter end, we see Pilners and IPA's, or India Pale Ales. These tend to be on the lighter side of the color scale. In general, you would like to mirror the body of the beer with that of the beer so that neither is overpowered by the other similar to wine pairings. For a Pilsner a great pairing are Thai summer rolls. Crisp, fresh veggies are complemented by the Pilsners sharp finish and light body.
For an IPA there is a stronger bitterness and hoppy flavor. This bitterness can cut through sweetness as well as richness brought to a dish through fats. A great example food to pair with an IPA is a creamy pasta dish such as alfredo or carbonara. With carbonara you cut not only the creaminess of the sauce by the fat of the bacon making this a seemingly perfect pairing!
Further down in the color scheme you see Hefeweizen. This German wheat beer is high in carbonation but low in hops so the bitterness is on the other end in comparison to an IPA. Slightly sweet, fruity flavors are often seen as well as some spice and bite that is fermented into the beer to make up for the low hops. Because of the subtlety of flavor in this style of beer it is important to pair something just a light and refreshing such as a citrus topped flounder and spring vegetables.
Amber Ales are extremely versatile and can be paired with chicken, seafood, burgers, spicy foods, and even in some occasions spicy foods. This malty, hoppy ale is well balanced with a medium body. Because of these flavors Amber ales pair great with BBQ foods such as ribs and brisket and plays on the sweet notes of Kansas City BBQ sauces.
Brown Ales and Porters are the "lightest of the dark beers." Brown ales boast dark malty flavors such as caramel and toffee. They can even feature sweet notes with a longer finish than the lighter ales of earlier. Brown Ales have a fuller body that fit perfectly with comfort foods like Grandma used to make. A great pairing for a Brown Ale would be Shephard's Pie that will complement with fall vegetables and red meat.
Porters have dark flavors with hints of coffee and chocolate that are exacerbated through roasted and can even bring our flavors of oak and smoke. Porters do well pairing with blackened fish dishes that complement the full body and flavors and complement the smokiness in each.
On the darkest end of the spectrum we see Stouts. The craft beer rage has taken stouts to the new level some featuring full chocolate flavors, coffee stouts, and molasses brewed stouts. These beers take on the highest level of roast and oak. Stouts such as Guinness require perfect pours as to not shake up the beer and cause an unwanted level of foam. Many beer connoisseurs like to pair stouts with dessert foods such as chocolate cake. A more savory pairing option includes braised or slowly roasted foods that play on the beers low almost umami like flavors.
As the craft beer industry grows, it will be very exciting to see the new pairings and flavors that brewmasters can incorporate to this centuries old beverage. In the meantime we will continue to explore the fascinating world that is Beer!
Watching chocolate come together into the sweet, creamy goodness we all enjoy is mesmerizing, almost magical. I've often wondered what sort of fanatic might enjoy this process and see it through to the end. Thankfully, I didn't have to look far. Chef John Deflieze, our newest addition to the Vita Nova family, has a particular love for the *art* of chocolate. He has shown us students that this art is not daunting and can be a great way to express creativity and to try something. I knew he was onto something because I realized I didn't need anymore convincing to get me on the path towards exploring chocolate making and chocolatiers of the world.
Since his arrival in the kitchen he has treated the Dinner Lab students to countless little truffle or chocolate treats he had been working on throughout the day. Although we were all more than grateful for this pre class pick me up I wanted to know more, so I decided to delve a little deeper into what it means to be a chocolatier something I've endearingly come to call a Chocolate Artist.
As I dived deeper and deeper into my searches on chocolate art and famous chocolatiers of the world I happened to find Patrick Roger, and all I can say is, "Wow." Patrick Roger is a true pioneer in his industry. His factory and shop is located in Paris, France. Roger is the type of chocolatier to build a 2 story Christmas tree made of solid chocolate in the middle of his factory that can never be moved. The other chocolate artists just admire the beauty that is chocolate and what can be done with it. Patrick Roger is known for these lifelike sculptures and pop culture references such as a solid chocolate replica of the Berlin Wall complete with cocoa butter graffiti. Roger also creates fantastical bonbons sure to make any palette salivate. His incorporations of oozy caramel and tart pear puree's are accompanied by a spicy Szechuan pepper sprinkle or a smoky Earl Grey encompassed in a glossy dome and smothered in some of France's finest chocolates. Many like to believe that with chocolate simple is best but with chocolate artists like Peter Roger pushing the envelope and developing new fundamental flavors that will be spoken about for years to come, chocolate lovers of the world rejoice.
Roger and the rest of his team are extremely innovative and always looking for the next best thing. They often give samples to many different people in the factory to stay on top of their quality and trends in the industry. He is a truly inspiring chocolatier and I am elated to have stumbled upon his work.
Between the time of entering a restaurant and the time one exits, that feeling of extraordinary hospitality lingers with each and every one of us. Whether you are dining at yours truly, Vita Nova, or at a café in Volterra, Italy, the dining experience will always will be impacted differently according to your surroundings and environment.
Different countries have different dining cultures that can effect the whole meal. For example, in the U.S., servers are typically expected to touch base with their table and guests to see if everything is going fine and if there is anything he or she can do to enhance their meal or experience there. The average time spent seated at a casual dining facility is roughly about 60 minutes. This was contrary to the dining experience my friend Claudia experienced in Florence, Italy. When asked about what her favorite aspect of Italian dining v.s. American dining, she said "The wine at dinner and just the feeling of never being rushed! You had to ask for the bill and meals were almost three hours long!" If there was one thing that Claudia could change about American dining, it would be that "American dining should be more relaxed and broken down into courses. It makes you appreciate the family aspects of dining together."
For my personal experience studying abroad this past winter in South Africa, we had the fortunate opportunities to dine at Cape Town's finest seafood restaurants. These scenic restaurants had outdoor patios where you and a group of 5 friends could enjoy a signature kingklip and seafood medley platter while watching personal cruise ships float across the bay during a beautiful 6:30 pm sunset. When it came to service, we felt like we were royalty. We had 4 servers who seemed like they were in the restaurant industry for 20 years tending to our table of 6. Not only did they make us feel welcomed, they made us feel special and unique compared to everyone else around us. By the time we had finished our meal, our server and all 6 of us were on a first name basis! I genuinely cannot remember the last time I felt as though I had made a friend after expecting to just get dinner at a restaurant.
If you decide you want to enjoy an adventure packed vacation in New Zealand or a relaxing and history filled tour through any European country, the hospitality is going to make or break your trip. That is why I as a hospitality business management student strive to learn as much as I can about impeccable hospitality and service.
The students of the Hospitality in Business program at the University of Delaware share their experiences at Vita Nova