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.

Beer + food pairing #5

Life doesn’t need to be complicated. Neither does pairing beer + food. Sometimes, you’re thirsty and you want to reach for something in the fridge. That’s why I always keep these on hand. Pickles and pale ale!

#5 Panhead Quickchange XPA + Bread and butter pickles

I first came across this recipe when I grew too many cucumbers one Summer, and I have since fallen in love with making all sorts of preserves and pickles. This recipe can be made a day in advance and eaten pretty much immediately. If you’re a fan of a whiskey pickleback, the juice is excellent too.

Due to their strong flavour, I have chosen a lighter style of beer to match with these pickles. Panhead’s Xtra Pale Ale is delicate and fragrant, with notes of guava and lychee, faint pine oils, and a very light malt base. The floral, citrus fruit and biscuity aromas match well with the bread and butter, cleansing the tartness of the pickles. On a hot day, this is heaven!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5kg telegraph cucumbers
  • 450g onions
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 litre cider vinegar
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp white mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • at least 1 bottle of Panhead XPA
  • freshly baked bread and butter to serve

Method:

  1. Slice the cucumbers into 2mm slices. Peel and halve the onions, slice thinly. Layer the vegetables in a colander, sprinkling them with the salt as you go. Then cover with a wet cloth and stand for 3 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse well under cold water, and drain again.
  2. Wash your pickling jars (you will need 2x one litre jars, which you should find easily at any supermarket) in hot water, rinse them and put them in the oven at 120C for 30 mins to drain and dry.
  3. Put the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring.
  4. Add the drained vegetables and return the mixture to boiling point, stirring, then turn off the heat immediately.
  5. Take the jars straight from the oven, ladle the vegetables into the jars then cover with the pickle juice, including spices. Discard any remaining liquid, or save it for your whiskey chasers.
  6. Seal the jars and leave until cooled before storing in a cool, dark place. Makes about 6 cups/1.5 litres.

This method is adapted from a recipe book called “Ladies, a Plate: Jams and Preserves” by Alexa Johnston which I highly recommend. I have enjoyed every recipe I have tried so far.

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Beer + food pairing #5