Holy cow… a guy who can reference a 55-year-old song from Harry Belafonte’s calypso days has his own blog? I really must be cooler on the Lake Shore!
Anyway, the Matilda is question here is an excellent Belgian-style ale that was one of five brews sampled at a dinner last night that paired beers from Chicago’s Goose Island brewery with food at Francesca’s in Chicago’s north side Bryn Mawr district. More about that, and the pairings, after this look out the window at another beautiful, fall-like Chicago day…
Last night was the first since we moved to Chicago in which the weather could be fairly described as chilly. According to Weather Underground, Chicago O’Hare had a low yesterday of 47 degrees after a high of 58 (with a little morning drizzle that amounted to .08 of an inch of rain). Washington Reagan National, by contrast, was a mid-summerish 87 with a low of 68 and no rain.
That, in my book, is a win for Chicago, bringing its overall record to 33-10 in the Cooler on the Lake Shore Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown.
Now, I admit, this may be a matter of taste in the weather. You may look at a 58-degree day in mid-September as a chilling omen of the grit-it-out winter to come. And you may think 87 degrees is a more appropriate temperature, given that it is still astronomical summer. And you may ask yourself, what is that beautiful house? (That one is for my fellow Talking Heads fans out there.) If any of that is the case, you may feel free to start your own damn weather contest.
In any case, a crisp night was perfect weather for a dinner at which the food was ample and delicious and the beer poured freely.
I have to confess, I have been a big fan of Goose Island’s beers for years: Their Bourbon County Stout, the granddaddy of micro-brewed, bourbon-barrel aged beers, was one of the great beverage revelations for me. And I have previously tasted all five of the beers that were served last night.
I was a newbie, though, at Francesca’s Bryn Mawr, one of 20 restaurants bearing some version of the Francesca’s name in the Chicago metro area. Based, at least, on what we were served at the beer dinner, I can recommend this restaurant. The beer pairings with each dish also worked very well, something that might surprise anyone out there with the predisposition that only wine pairs well with food.
Here’s a place card each attendee was given that describes the pairings…
Since I don’t expect you to expand that to super-size so you can read it, here are the pairings as described:
* 312 beer (hazy straw color, with a light citrus hop aroma, fruity ale flavor and a refreshing creamy body), paired with an assortment of crostini (toasted Italian bread with toppings).
* Sofie (champagne color, with a spicy white pepper aroma, bright citrus and vanilla flavor, and a dry sparkling body), paired with jumbo scallop and grilled asparagus with beurre blanc.
* Matilda (golden sunrise color, baking spice aroma, with a fruity biscuity malt flavor, and a dry body), paired with housemade four-cheese ravioli in a sage-brown butter sauce and heirloom tomatoes.
* Pepe Nero (mahogany color, with aromas of black pepper, a rich roasted malt middle, and a lingering spice finish), paired with aged New York steak with grilled vegetables, herbs in extra virgin olive oil and natural jus.
* Pere Jacques (warm molasses color, with dark fruit aromas, rich caramel malt flavors, and a rich soft body), paired with a dessert of bittersweet chocolate hazelnut semifreddo.
Just as an aside, the question was put to the representatives of Goose Island, who were in attendance, about whether the buyout of the company last March by mass beer-making giant Anheuser-Busch InBev would have any negative impact on the quality and variety of beers available.
They, like other Goose Island folks I’ve spoken to previously, were bullish on the new arrangement. Of course, they have to be. But my own observation is that, so far, there has been no falloff in quality or availability of the company’s boutique labels, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that the corporate big boys will leave well enough alone.
Back to the weather. Today’s forecasts from Weather.com…
Chicago: Some clouds this morning will give way to generally sunny skies for the afternoon. High 61. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph… Tonight… Clear to partly cloudy. Low 46. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph… Friday… Mostly cloudy. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 61. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph.
Washington: Windy with showers and thundershowers likely. Gusty winds and small hail are possible. High 77. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 60%… Tonight… Partly cloudy skies. Low 53. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph…. Friday… Partly to mostly cloudy. High 66. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.