An Oregon winery made a bit of a splash yesterday when its riesling was featured at the huge White House gala with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.* (Not only because it was a local wine, but because the official menu misspelled "Willamette." D'oh!) Cool beans for the Brooks Winery, yet another in a fairly long list of local wines to be served at the White House. But we voted for change! Wine is so passe--hasn't the President (noted beer drinker) gotten the message that ales are the new pinot?
The next time the White House throws a chichi fete--say when Angela Merkel visits--Obama ought to take bold leadership and serve beer. As a way of showing the way, let's have a look at last night's menu and see how we might have paired the courses with food.
Course: Potato and eggplant salad, White House arugala with onion vinaigrette.
Pairing: I'd choose something with a bit of sweet malt to contrast the tartness of the vinaigrette and the bitter/spiciness of the arugala. You want something light, though, so it will draw out the flavors and not overwhelm them. How about a nice pale ale. Since Obama likes to play the high/low card, let's go with Caldera Pale Ale, in the can.
Course: Red lentil soup with fresh cheese
Pairing: "Fresh cheese" doesn't give us much to go on, but let's guess that this is a slightly heartier course. When I hear "cheese," I think Belgian, so we could suggest something like Upright Four or--since we're highlighting the nation, not just Beervana--New Belgium Dandelion Ale.
Course: Roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney, chick peas, and okra or green curry prawns, caramelized salsify with smoked collard greens, and coconut aged basmati.
Pairing: In honor of India, the White House has made a variation on traditional Indian food. The pairing here is obvious--it needs to be a light lager, typical of the Subcontinent. I've recently had US-brewed Kingfisher, a classic Indian brand, and it's a great beer. Unlike its Indian version, the US recipe is quite nicely hopped, sharp, clean, and dry. It would go perfectly with the meal and be a nice show of international cooperation.
Course: Pumpkin pie tart, pear tatin, whipped cream and caramel sauce
Pairing: This seasonally-appropriate dessert calls for a seasonally-appropriate beer. To draw out the darker, earthier notes from the pumpkin pie, and to help cut the sweet, I would choose a dark dry beer here. One of America's finest is Anchor porter--a fine note on which to end a meal.
Someone alert the President about this, will you?
*Errata to file under "small world." The Beeronomist--he doesn't want us to call him that, but some titles stick, and in Beervana it's an honorific, anyway--once met the Prime Minister, back when he was just a technocrat in the Rao government during the Clinton days. Singh is, you see, an economist by training, and so they have a professional connection. Beer and politics? Sidelights.
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