Love + Bitterness: Beer + food pairing #7, Beer + aperitivo pairing A.

Love is just a four-letter word, as sung by Joan Baez in her 1968 cover of Bob Dylan. The desire for love is a driving force behind our interactions as human beings, yet its realization is often elusive and slips away from us.

One way to reliably experience love is through food. For most of us, nothing says “I love you” or “I welcome you” better than sharing a meal or a bite to eat. Hospitality is a way to show respect for others, to share your culture and experiences, to unify and make lasting connections. This applies whether you are in a bar, a restaurant, or someone’s home.

These wonderful cookies are filled with love, nuts and chocolate. I have paired them with a beer that was created to be shared with someone you love, (if you’re single, preach that self-love!) Funk Estate’s Super Afrodisiac Stout.

#7 Funk Estate Super Afrodisiac Stout + The Best Biscuits I’ve Ever Baked

Baking was my gateway drug to cooking, among other things. These cookies are basically foolproof, and are almost as good as therapy. (I know this is a huge claim to make, but I am a massive believer in the power of chocolate.) If the cookies alone aren’t enough to light your fire, you have the added power of Funk Estate’s five aphrodisiac ingredients: vanilla, honey, more chocolate, figs and maca root.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup extra light olive oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self raising flour
  • 1/3 cup crumbed walnuts (I use a mortar and pestle to crumb them)
  • 150g Whittakers 62% Dark Cacao chocolate
  • 1 can (at least) of Funk Estate Super Afrodisiac Imperial Stout

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan forced oven. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Chop the chocolate block into chunks (you can use chocolate chips if you prefer but I like the texture of larger and smaller chunks of Whittakers chocolate).
  3. Beat egg, oil and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy.
  4. Sift flours over oil mixture; then add the walnuts and chocolate chunks. Stir until well combined.
  5. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and flatten slightly with a fork onto the baking tray (makes 12-15 cookies).
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack until firm.
  7. Enjoy with beer!

On the subject of love, a little bottle of one of my greatest loves fell into my hands this weekend: Campari.

Campari has a long history of love, passion and dedication behind the brand. A classic bitter aperitif, it was created in Italy around 1860, by a young drink maker called Gaspari Campari. It was customary in Italy during this time for each local café to be producing their own distinct aperitivos, amaros and liquers. Gaspari Campari began to sell his product to other cafes, bottled and labelled, with the savvy marketing insights of his wife Laeticia and later their son Davide.

In the early 1900s Davide fell in love with a famed Opera singer named Lina Cavalieri. She never reciprocated his love, but he followed her through Europe on her tours and eventually to Moscow, carrying his stock of Campari with him. In this way, he made Campari an international brand, supporting Surrealists, musicians and artists along the way. He engaged with a broad range of artistic styles to create posters for the brand, favouring innovative and daring images, captivating the interest of the public.

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Poster art for Campari by artist Marcello Dudovich, 1913

A. Funk Estate Rock Steady XPA + Campari

A departure from the theme of Opera and unrequited love, this little Funk Estate drop has more of a 70s “Free love” vibe. Rock Steady Xtra Pale Ale pairs nicely with Campari without overpowering the bitter Aperitivo flavours I love.

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Campari
  • pour 3 to 4 parts Xtra Pale Ale

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This beverage also works well with Panhead Quickchange XPA, or an I.P.A. such as Epic Armageddon if you prefer love to smack you in the mouth with a whop of hop flavours. I feel like Davide Campari might have been that kind of guy.

Interestingly, Davide is not the only man to have become obsessed with Lina Cavalieri. Piero Fornasetti, an Italian painter and designer, created hundreds of items featuring the Opera singer’s face as a motif; “What inspired me to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman? I don’t know,” he admits, “I began to make them and I never stopped.”

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Plates by Piero Fornasetti, mid-20th century

The legacy of Campari has been handed down through the generations, as has its ongoing support of the arts. Vanessa Beecroft, an Italian-born performance and watercolour artist, created a label for Campari’s 150th anniversary. “Her label focused on the female image, coherent with her art vocation that uses women’s prototypes to project the artist’s own image. She imagined an ethereal female character wrapped in a fantastic head of hair, red, like the glass of Campari she is holding”[1] and reminiscent of a) the reputably fiery haired Laeticia Campari b) the socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg or c) the artist Vanessa Beecroft herself.

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Bottle label by Vanessa Beecroft, 2010
Beecroft’s performance work is something I have come across before; she “paints” individual and group portraits in three dimensions, with living girls and women. The girls stand or sit as if they are waiting for something that never happens, never making eye contact with the viewer, never speaking, in various states of dress and un-dress. Their discomfort echoed in the viewer’s discomfort creates an atmosphere of tension; a mixture of voyeurism, vulnerability, shame and detachment. There are rules unstated, desires unstated. The viewer seems somehow just as out of place as the girls themselves, while Beecroft assumes control.
“Without question Vanessa is a feminist,” states her dealer Jeffrey Deitch “but she’s a very contemporary kind of feminist…. If one is present at a Vanessa Beecroft performance, they are not erotic. You feel the power of the women’s presence. It is an intimidating image.”[2] The cast of later performances has expanded to involve marines, illegal immigrants, stand-ins for victims of genocide in Darfur, and other homogeneous groups in museums, art galleries, and public spaces.
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Still of performance piece by Vanessa Beecroft
This legacy of obsession, love and pushing boundaries, adds to the intrigue of this bitter red aperitif.
Many thanks to Daniele Pirotta and David Fletcher from Campari for providing me with the background story, inspiration, and the wee bottle of love and bitterness.
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Poster art for Campari by Marcello Dudovich
[1] http://www.camparigroup.com/sites/default/files/brand/documents/campari_150_campari_art_label_press_kit_eng_0.pdf Retrieved 25 September 2016.
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2005/mar/13/art Retrieved 27 September 2016.
Love + Bitterness: Beer + food pairing #7, Beer + aperitivo pairing A.

Beervana: Consider everything an experiment

While I was down in Wellington, I met some people, drank some beer and saw some art. I also got soaking wet socks, took my suitcase into a supermarket, and totally overcame my fear of drinking alone.

But the best part is looking back on the festival and seeing how much creativity was there and potential for diverse experiences.

The stalls ranged from a simple set-up with a tablecloth and a few bottles, these type of stalls were typically manned or womanned by the brewer themselves, to a slick party-vibe set-up (such as Garage Project, celebrating their 5th birthday who provided party hats and where you could buy fairy bread and Traffic Light themed beverages!)

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Me and Pip on the far right, at Garage Project’s 5th Birthday stall

I also especially liked Eagle Brewery’s “Brewing Bad”, a Breaking Bad themed bar, which is also where I tried the most unusual beer of the night. The Arty Farty Sahti tasted like dried bananas, with a lovely smooth rich mouthfeel. My review on the beervana app is “If u like deep fried bananas this beer is for you!!” Okay maybe I had fried food on my brain by this point in the night, or my brain was totally fried, but it’s accurate!

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Photo credit @EagleBrewingNZ on Twitter

“A complex mix of Juniper, clove, banana and sweet rye malt.” Sahti is a Finnish farm-style beer, developed using ingredients available near the farm such as Juniper branches, berries, herbs and spices. It is a cloudy beer, made using a long step infusion mash and traditionally filtered through Juniper twigs or made using Juniper berries instead of hops. It has yeasty and phenolic flavours and a distinct banana taste due to the production of isoamyl acetate by the yeast used. Some examples have a sour quality, but this one was on the dessert spectrum.

I kind of over-did the sour beers, the Traffic Light from Garage Project literally tipped me over the edge at 3.0% ABV. I was thankful to taste a decent APA (or an IPL from Basecamp Brewery, Oregon). I came across an excellent hoppy Pilsner called “Pop’n Pils” from B.effect Brewing Co. based in Wanaka. They said it was a hit at Ryhthm and Alps, and I can see why. It sings out Summer Festivals for me.

Another interesting discovery were Mash Tun Crackers, reincarnated from mash used to make Tuatara’s Heather Ale “Heather lives on.” I found the Heather Ale a little tart for me at that point, preferring Tuatara’s Wild Pumpkin Ale that had a bit more sweetness and finished with a nice touch of vegetable character. And I just can’t get enough of Good George’s Blueberry Gose, “Fruity, dry, balanced, all round yum-ness” my notes say approvingly.

So those were my highlights. I tasted around 30 beers in total, over three sessions. I made some new friends, partied at the Choice Bros Silent Disco, then made a trip to the Wellington City Gallery the next day. There I discovered a wonderful 1960s pop-hippie artist, a Catholic Nun, activist and teacher called Sister Corita.

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Image credit Sean St. Lewis from his blog http://www.berlinsixsenses.com
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Sister Corita’s art rules, popularized by John Cage

Sister Corita’s art rules are me in a nutshell. Do the things and worry about why afterwards. Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. Drink the beer, talk to the people, go to the places. “Rule 4: Consider Everything An Experiment.”

Beervana: Consider everything an experiment