FAQ: Why did I call my bar Cupid?

So, last year this crazy thing happened. I need to stop discrediting myself by saying “somehow I ended up owning a bar” and say “after working a heap of different hospitality jobs for different companies over the last 14 years and soaking up every snippet of advice I could about starting a business, running a business, and general witchery I decided to take a calculated risk.” Not too calculated mind you, I mean there was certainly an element of crazy there.

Naming my new bar, as it turns out, was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Why did I call my bar Cupid?

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Sam Cooke looking perplexed

The short answer is, because someone told me not to.

The longer answer is, because more than one person told me not to and I had to think really hard about what I was in this for.

The business I thought I was going to start – my specialty craft beer shop – was going to be called McGinty’s Beer Shop. A bastardisation of my surname that nobody can remember or pronounce: McEntegart.

That’s a sensible name for a beer shop. But I didn’t start a beer shop. I bought this alluring little bar in what was formerly the entranceway to an art deco style cinema built in 1929. It is rumoured to have a few resident ghosts (thankfully I don’t see them but I am certainly not doing any séances in the bar). It’s been a vibrant, messy, banging rock and roll venue as well as its time spent as a cinema and it wants to put its name back on the map.

For this bar, I felt it needed a strong name that people would remember, that referenced history, nostalgia, romance, tragedy, human emotions like love and despair. When I came up with Cupid it seemed to fit all the grand illusions I was having. I was pulling off opulence on a budget.

I came across this brilliant post by a woman called Ash Ambirge whose blog I follow. Titled “My Brand is Boring as Fuck. With a capital F.” it helped me to realise what I wanted to do.

I didn’t want to be Boring as Fuck. I wanted to play Nick Cave songs and drink enough whisky to start growing a beard while swanning about dressed like Stevie Nicks and turning men into toads. I’m halfway there, in case you’re wondering.

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Stevie Nicks album cover, 1981

Unsurprisingly, there are a number of musical references to Cupid (the first of which was my main inspiration if you haven’t guessed).

“Cupid”, Sam Cooke, released 1961

“Don’t Mess With Cupid”, Otis Redding, 1968

“Hello from Cupid”, Jonathan Richman, 1998

“Cupid”, The Brunettes, 2002

“Happy Valentine’s Day”, OutKast, 2003

“Cupid”, Amy Winehouse (cover of Sam Cooke) released 2006

“Cupid Carries a Gun”, Marilyn Manson, 2015

Music has become an important feature in my bar, which perhaps is unsurprising given that it owes its name to a song. If you want to hear my playlist, click the link on my website here: www.cupidbar.net/links/

Intuition, AKA trusting your gut, plays a really big part in running a business. So does defining your values and being true to yourself. I have been waiting an excruciatingly long time for my opportunity to shine, and while I know I’m a slow burner, I’m not (as some would say more bluntly) here for the heavy petting of arachnids. I’ll be okay as long as I don’t go kissing any more amphibians.

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This is the worst advice ever. No you fucking don’t need to kiss any frogs. You’re better than that.

 

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FAQ: Why did I call my bar Cupid?

Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 2

The first act felt like a challenge to follow up, but now I think I like this menu better…. it forced me to be creative and think about the way the beers and dishes follow each other.

Watch this space guys…. hopefully next time we’ll have a proper venue and some industry support: Dreams are free (and sometimes they come true) xxx

 

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Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 2

On arrival: Cheeseboard with grapes and crackers

First course: Moa Southern Alps White IPA and salted toffee cashews

Brewed with Vienna and Pale Wheat malts, Moa Southern Alps is hopped and dry hopped with a blend of Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops giving a strong citrus/lemon grass aroma. Add the esters from a Belgian ale yeast and coriander for spicing and you have quite some complexity in this fusion of Belgian Wit and I.P.A. Goes lovely with salted toffee cashews.

165ml serve / 6.4% ABV

Second course: Hallertau Copper Tart with Mushroom Risotto balls and honey

Warming things up a bit, the Copper Tart is a red ale and its caramel flavours offer a nice continuity from the previous dish. Mushroom and honey are a surprisingly good partnership, and this one goes down a treat.

165ml serve / 4.2% ABV

Third course: 8 Wired Cucumber Hippy with Smashed Cucumber Salad

Yes! I converted some of you to the Cucumber Beer Cult. This beer is truly life-changing, it’s made me look at beers in a completely new way. Try it. I’m looking at cucumbers in a new way too cos if we’re gonna smash capitalism and the patriarchy and stuff we might as well start in the kitchen…. that’s where the knives are kept.

165ml serve / 4.5% ABV

Fourth course: Guinness with slow cooked lamb and polenta

It’s cold outside, it’s warm inside…. the house smells good and there’s leftovers. What more could you ask for? Oh, and I made polenta taste good.

165ml serve / 4.2% ABV

Fifth course: Epic Armageddon IPA and Creme Brulee

Yay I actually made the brulees set properly this time. I think the culinary blowtorch was key. Also I used pretty small ramekins but it packed a punch and so did the beer. Burning stuff is fun.

165ml serve / 6.66% ABV

^ 666. I love it when brewers do stuff like this. Attention to detail.

Links to recipes on blog below my brother:

 

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Salted toffee cashews: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/beer-food-matching/
Mushroom risotto balls: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/beer-food-pairing-13-mushroom-risotto-balls-hallertau-3/
Smashed Cucumber Salad: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/beer-food-pairing-12-berliner-weisse-and-chinese-smashed-cucumbers/
Lamb: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/beer-food-pairing-14-slow-cooked-lamb-with-guinness/
Creme brulee: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/beer-food-pairing-6/
Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 2

BEER + FOOD PAIRING #14: SLOW-COOKED LAMB WITH GUINNESS

Let me interrupt your Game of Thrones life for a minute: I GoT meat and beer? No? Ok, I tried…..

This is a recipe I followed from a cookbook, but I tweaked it a bit. I added cumin, coffee and mustard because I like my lamb with warm Mediterranean spices and I found these brought out the flavours of the Guinness better too.

A super rich, decadent winter meal that deserves a good beer to wash it down. The lamb is slow-cooked in a stock with Guinness, onion and spices. I tried a couple of richer and hoppier dark beers with this dish, they worked as an aperitif but they clashed with the flavours of the dish itself. The sweet onion and bay leaf are delicate components, while the lamb is rich and strong. The right beer pairing needs to compliment but not overpower these elements, and it needs to cut through the richness of the gravy to refresh the palate. Guinness was perfect for this.

I hope you get the opportunity to try it for yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2kg lamb shoulder (bone-in optional)
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp hot mustard
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 60ml malt vinegar
  • 250ml Guinness
  • 250ml vege/chicken stock
  • 250ml brewed coffee (e.g. plunger)
  • instant polenta or mashed potato to accompany
  • more Guinness (not optional)

Method:

You can cook this dish using a slow-cooker, a conventional oven, or even pot-roast. If you’re using the oven, pre-heat to 160C. Choose a piece of lamb that will fit the dish/method you are using, or cut it into 4 parts.

  1. In a heavy based frying pan, heat the oil and then fry the lamb until the outside is browned.
  2. Add the onions, halved and then chopped into wedges. Add the garlic, roughly chopped.
  3. Once the onions have begun to cook, add the bay leaf, cumin and sugar. Gently turn the lamb and onions to cook evenly.
  4. Add the mustard, malt vinegar, salt and pepper. At this point you may like to transfer the lamb into a roasting dish or slow cooker. Add the final ingredients: Guinness, stock and coffee.
  5. Cook for 4-6 hours, depending on cooking method. I like to prepare the dish in advance, pre-cooking the dish in the slow-cooker on the previous night or in the morning for 2-3 hours. Then I let it cool and scrape off the excess fat, remove the bones and cook a further 2-3 hours.
  6. Once the lamb is ready, and is nice and tender, I drain off most of the gravy through a sieve into a large measuring cup. I add a bit of boiling water to make it up to 2 cups of stock. Then I used this stock to make instant polenta on the stovetop.
  7. For 500ml of stock, use 125g of polenta. For 350ml of stock, use 83 grams or around 3/4 of a cup. Add a third of the polenta at a time and use a wooden spoon to beat the mixture rapidly. Cook for around 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  8. Serve the lamb and polenta immediately, garnished with a small bay leaf. Drink Guinness.

 

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BEER + FOOD PAIRING #14: SLOW-COOKED LAMB WITH GUINNESS

BEER + FOOD PAIRING #13: MUSHROOM RISOTTO BALLS + HALLERTAU #3

Hallertau’s #3 Red Ale is an excellent food pairing beer. It’s not aggressively hoppy but it’s robust enough and has lots of roasty, malty flavours with a bit of sweetness. It goes excellently with grilled vegetables, or a wood-fired pizza. Hallertau Brewery is in Riverhead, Northwest of Auckland and is surrounded by lifestyle properties, vineyards and a lot of bike tracks and pine forest. If you were out riding your horse for a day, this is a beer you’d definitely like to finish the day with beside the fire.

I made the addition of a honey drizzle to this recipe, and found that the flavours of honey and mushroom go really well together…. especially with beer…. and with balls. Enjoy! Beer with balls.

Hallertau #3 Copper Tart and Mushroom Risotto Balls

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups vege stock
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 200g Swiss brown mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup or 50g grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • oil for shallow frying
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Method:

  1. Bring your stock to boil in a saucepan, then keep it to the side at a low simmer.
  2. Sautée the onion and garlic with the olive oil, then stir in the chopped mushrooms and cook 3-4 mins until softened.
  3. Add the rice and stir another 3-4 mins until evenly coated with oil. Add about 1/3 of the stock, stir gently and gently simmer until the stock is reduced, keep adding stock until all is absorbed (15-20 mins). The mixture should be al dente and slightly drier than standard risotto.
  4. Add the parmesan, salt and pepper. Then leave to cool for 1 hour.
  5. In 3 separate bowls, place your flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. Heat the frying oil in a pan over a medium heat. Then take tablespoons of the risotto mix, roll it into a ball with your hands and dip it into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Repeat the coating of egg and breadcrumbs. Then fry lightly on all sides.
  6. Once browned, place the risotto balls on paper towels to drain. If you are not serving immediately, place them in the oven to keep warm or reheat at 150C.
  7. When ready to serve, prepare a honey sauce with equal parts honey and water. Drizzle this over the top.

HALLERTAU 3

BEER + FOOD PAIRING #13: MUSHROOM RISOTTO BALLS + HALLERTAU #3

Beer + food pairing #12: Berliner Weisse and Chinese Smashed Cucumbers

I’m a firm believer in the “Hair of the Dog” cure for a hangover. You need to replenish your body with salt, sugar, water and more beer. There’s a meme that claims the human body is 90% water, so we are basically just cucumbers with anxiety. This is untrue, the human body is around 60% water so maybe we drink beer to try to reach the higher consciousness of an anxious cucumber but we never quite get there.

I found this cucumber beer quite extraordinary the first time I tried it. I kept imagining I was having a Hendricks gin and tonic rather than beer (which is probably a good way to approach drinking sour beers if you haven’t tried them before). The Berliner Weisse is a cloudy, white, sour beer style from (you guessed it) Northern Germany. It is typically 3-4% alcohol. It was the most popular style at one point in the 19th Century Berlin, and was commonly flavoured with fruit syrups. I think this cucumber version is probably better, in fact right now I think it is the best beer in the world.

To cure your hangover, and improve your life in general, try this pairing:

#12 8 Wired Cucumber Hippy Berliner Weisse + Chinese Smashed Cucumbers

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 tsp sugar, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • red chilli flakes
  • coriander leaves, to garnish (optional)
  • you’ll probably want 2 cans of this amazing beer

Method:

  1. Wash the cucumbers and cut them in half lengthways
  2. Place a tea towel under your chopping board, then place the cucumbers flesh side down and use a knife to gently press or smash the cucumbers to release the seeds and some juice
  3. Cut them into rough pieces around 2cm long/wide
  4. Place the cucumber pieces in a strainer over a large bowl. Sprinkle in some sugar and salt, then mix this through and leave them to drain. Place a saucer on top to press them down, and put them in the fridge for around 30 mins.
  5. Mix the sugar and salt into the rice vinegar. Then add the sesame oil and soy sauce.
  6. Take the drained cucumbers from the fridge and put them in a mixing bowl, then mix through the olive oil. Add half the garlic, half the vinegar mix, and a pinch of chilli flakes. Taste, then keep seasoning until you find a balance you like. I used the full amount of seasoning but I think it’s wise to add half at a time. You may like to add more salt. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Eat and rejuvenate!

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Beer + food pairing #12: Berliner Weisse and Chinese Smashed Cucumbers

Beer + food pairing #11: Salt water gose and seaweed popcorn

I’m not sure if I made a healthier version of popcorn or not, but the addition of kale and seaweed ticks a couple of boxes (vote Green, I love you). I got the kale powder from the health food section of the supermarket, which I accidentally stumbled into while searching for popcorn that didn’t come in a microwave bag. I wanted to make a popcorn mix that wasn’t too heavy and could be an appetizer/light snack before a meal.

It took me a couple of fails before I nailed the perfect beer to go with this one, but as soon as I saw this little silver can with its beaming yellow beacon I knew it was the one. It would be perfect after/during a day at the beach and if you can’t get to the beach then bring the sea to your lips and your hips with this salty seaweed popcorn pairing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup popping corn
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp kale powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 sheets Yaki Nori (roasted seaweed)

Method:

  1. Pop the corn as per instructions on the packet.
  2. Mix the salt, kale powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Then cut the seaweed sheets into narrow strips and tear them into pieces. Mix the seaweed pieces into the salt mix, coating them thoroughly.
  3. Once the popcorn is popped and cooled a little, mix through the salt and kale mix.
  4. Pair this with Piha Salt Water Gose, although be warned you will probably want more than one can.

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Beer + food pairing #11: Salt water gose and seaweed popcorn

Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 1

Whoop! So I pulled off 2 lovely afternoons filled with beer, food, good friends and conversation. All of the recipes I used can be found on my blog, I will list them below.

Now it’s back to the drawing/tasting board to plan Menu 2.

 

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Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 1

First course: Garage Project’s Salted White Peach Sour with a Cheeseboard

Cheese goes well with fruit, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it goes well with a fruity beer too. The carbonation as well as its dry finish makes it a great food beer. I threw in a bit of prosciutto, dried apricots and other fruits, as well as 3 types of cheeses – parmesan, creamy blue and camembert.

330ml serve / 2.9% ABV

Second course: Panhead Xtra Pale Ale with Bread and Butter Pickles

Panhead started in Upper Hutt, launched out of the old Dunlop tyre factory; the brand has a distinct motorhead aesthetic. The pickles recipe comes from ‘Ladies, a Plate: Jams and Preserves’ so this is a collision of two worlds, re-working something a bit old-fashioned. When you try the two together – pow wow! You will want to eat this every time the sun shines.

165ml serve / 4.6% ABV

Third course: 8 Wired Saison Sauvin with Ceviche

The distinctive Nelson Sauvin hop has similar characteristics to Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that is often paired with seafood. This is the only Saison Sauvin I have come across, as one blogger says it is “a little bit special and very tasty”.

165ml serve / 7.0% ABV

Fourth course: Good George Rocket Coffee IPA and Vege Skewers with Satay Sauce

The chilli and peanut flavours really bring out the coffee notes in this beer, backed up by the caramelized notes of roasted kumara – it’s even vegan. What more could you hipsters possibly want?

165ml serve / 6.0% ABV

Fifth course: Renaissance ‘Stonecutter’ Scotch Ale with Pulled Pork, Roasted Carrots and Harissa Labneh

This is an amazing food pairing beer, 9 malts are blended together to make Stonecutter, which is why you get so many layers of complexity from it. Add the warm spicy flavours of the pork and labneh, and this is foodie heaven.

165ml serve / 7.0% ABV

Sixth Course: Funk Estate Afrodisiac Stout and Cookies

Funk Estate’s most critically acclaimed beer to date, it’s an imperial stout that contains five aphrodisiac ingredients including chocolate, figs and maca root. Paired with these easy-like-Sunday-morning walnut and dark chocolate cookies. Yum!

165ml serve / 8.0% ABV

Links to recipes on blog here:

Pickles: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/beer-food-pairing-5/
Ceviche: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/12/19/beer-food-pairing-9/
Satay Vege Skewers: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/beer-food-pairing-8/
Labneh and pork: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/beer-food-pairing-4/
Cookies: https://beertruths.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/love-bitterness-beer-food-pairing-7-beer-aperitivo-pairing-a/
Beer+food Tasting Party: Menu 1