Friday 26 August 2011

Steak Wine Kilverts Beer

What does steak taste of? What does the king of meats taste of? King? Well it’s the meat that brings out the macho in men, the men who want it rose, rare or as crisp as Joan of Arc at the stake. I don’t really do steak, I prefer duck or mackerel or salade niçoise, but in the interests of work I have steak tonight. And as I sit here at a table in a hotel overlooking the Atlantic on the Lizard, I wonder about the taste of steak: there’s a sweetness, a meatiness (whatever that means), a saltiness and then there’s the texture — I had mine rare and it yielded in my mouth, supple, flexible, eager to crumble; mastication: a thoughtful few moments as I chew, break down the flesh and think about what I am tasting. It brings forth gastric juices, so maybe a steak is juicy perhaps? But then it’s nowhere as juicy as a ripe mango when the juices are as ubiquitous as a bucket of mini Stephen Frys exhorting all and sundry to do something they would rather not. And then what to drink with it? In the interest of research, I have an Australian Shiraz, plummy, spicy, tobacco box-like, cigars, it says on the wine list. Oh and berries as well. A mouthful before the food arrives — the tannins leap out, whack my mouth around its metaphorical head and then sit there squatting, evil grins on their faces. But then drunk with the steak, the flavours come forth, like a coach encouraging a runner/footballer/cricketer to do their best, a motivator, the voice in the head that says you can go faster, hit harder, never give in. And when the steak is gone the wine becomes tannic once more, oaky, woody, not so complex or as full of flavour. So what does a steak taste like? The reason I ask this question is that on Saturday night myself and Mark Dredge will be hosting a beer vs beer dinner at Kilverts in Hay on Wye, part of the beer and literature festival that Ed Davies has put on for bank holiday weekend. Pete Brown is there on Friday night hosting a beer dinner, while Mark and I are doing talks on Saturday afternoon (myself on the upcoming book Great British Pubs and Mark on hops, while Pete’s also there on Saturday as well). Mark and I have made things difficult by limiting ourselves to either light or dark beers for each course, so for instance I have chosen Orval for a stilton and shallot risotto, while Mark has chosen Rochefort 8. The second course is a tough one: sardines and ratatouille with which I have struggled but am trying Otley’s O Roger (and I am not entering any debates about whether it is a Burton, IPA or fruit beer);  Mark will be going for a Jever. But the main reason I have written about steak is that the third course is beef welling with which I have decided to drop from a great height either a Sierra Nevada Torpedo or a Goose Island IPA (Mark: Aventinus). Finally Waen’s Porter House Blue with fresh blueberries from the Anglo Welsh border added in the mash and at the end of the boil will be taking its time with the chocolate influenced pudding (Mark: Boon Kriek). It will be fun so if you are in the vicinity why not drop in, Kilverts is a great pub and if books are in your blood then Hay will soothe and flow through your views with the softest of touches. See you on Saturday. 


  1. I must admit I prefer red wine with steak. What made you pick torpedo with the wellington? Seems a bit of an odd choice to me.

    rest looks good though

  2. It’s going to be Goose Island IPA, I like the idea of the orange notes wrapping themselves around the sweetness and the meatiness and the saltiness of the beef — I reckon it will accentuate the cirtus while the bitterness will almost add an extra sense of spice ot the dish, from my experience last night it seems as if red meat could almost act as this canvas on which you can draw any picture you like with whatever you drink. I always believe that there are no rules in matching food and beer, I always liked the futurists and their cuisine, what was one of their dishes? Nougat and spaghetti or something.

  3. The goose island might work, sounds good to me.

    As for the futurists thing, i'm pretty sure one of their main things was that Italians should stop eating pasta