Saturday, March 23, 2013

Beer and Cheese Class at St. Lawrence Market

A few weeks ago St. Lawrence Market ran a Twitter contest and - incredibly - I won. This week, I got to bring a friend with me to a beer and cheese pairing class in their upstairs kitchen for a 2-hour long party for our taste buds. On the house.

First of all, the space itself is gorgeous. I've been there once before for a nutrition workshop and I love everything about it - the vibe, the aesthetics, the staff. And it's extra neat that on this occasion we got to overlook a completely deserted market below us, since it was after hours. Last time I was in the kitchen, the market itself was open and you could hear the hustle and bustle of a busy market day floating in over the railing. This time, the great big space was empty and quiet, which was a bit surreal in a very cool way.

Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted with a glass of a German wheat beer and an array of smoked/cured meats and scented cheese to tie us over until the other guests arrived. It took my friend and I no time at all to polish off the better part of the whole tray, which was very much to out liking (and the sweet mustard the meat was paired with was quite spectacular). Our host graciously introduced us to the other staff and offered us some history on the origin of the tasty nibbles.

Once the other guests filed in (quite the diverse group, including a man date or two, which was adorable!), we were seated to a beautiful spread of cheeses and dug in under the supervision and guidance of our host. Each cheese was paired with a beer and we learned quite a bit in the process. The beer pairings came in rather quick succession, so at times we found ourselves struggling to keep up, but we managed to polish just about everything off. My friend doesn't actually like cheese (but loves beer), so she got my extra beer while I got her cheese. At the end of the night, not only was I happily cheesed out, I also got to take my friend's helping home with me and enjoyed it for lunch the next day (it really pays to bring lunch to work when you end up with empty tupperwear for occasions like this!).

Together with the opening nibbles, this is what we enjoyed over the course of the evening: Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse wtih cumin-spiced cheese, Tyrolean speck, green peppercorn salami, Bavarian mustard, and Red Fife bread sticks; Steam Whistle Pilsner with La Tur; Propeller IPA with Britannia 7-yr-old Cheddar; La Trappe Tripel with Langres; Howe Sound "Pot-hole Filler" with Stilton; Mort-Subite Kriek with Ashley. My favourite beer was La Trappe Tripel and my favourite cheese was Langres. There were also some fantastic condiments that were served with the cheeses and both my friend and I enjoyed those tremendously.
Overall, it was a wonderful (and tasty) evening and we learned quite a bit. The class was aimed at amateurs, not heavy-duty gourmands, so if you are looking to be blown away by things you've never heard of, you might be a bit disappointed (e.g. Stilton, Cheddar, and Steam Whistle are all things I am very familiar with and I'm no food snob). However, if you are an average person just looking to enjoy a neat experience and a fun night out, you'd be pretty right on the money. This definitely falls more into the category of an experience than an extra sophisticated foodie event, which is right up my alley and wins my vote every time.

In terms of main take-aways from the event, there were a few:
  1. Beer actually pairs with cheese better - and easier! - than wine. Particularly if you love serving condiments with cheese, which tend to not work with the wine so well (but work with beer). 
  2. The history of beer is quite fascinating. Who knew!
  3. If you're not a "beer person", it might be because you keep "giving one more shot" to the same old Molson dry (or its equivalent). If you are going to discover a beer that you like, you're more likely to do it by trying a really unusual brew than sticking with the same old "safe" choices. Many local breweries have been experimenting lately with different flavours and styles, so go out of your comfort zone and try something completely whacky. You just might discover that you don't hate beer after all. 
  4. Beer colour is actually a very poor indicator of what it will taste like. The general belief that darker beers are heavier and more bitter than the light-coloured brews simply does not hold true. Colour and taste can vary greatly and do not bear a direct correlation.
WHAT: Beer and Cheese class at St. Lawrence Market

WHERE: St. Lawrence Market Kitchen, South Market building

WHEN: March 21, 2013 - 7:00-9:00 pm

COST: $40+HST (my friends and I both attended for free as contest winners)

INSIDER DETAILS: If you are on social media, enter any and all contests that interest you. You never know when you might win! And pretty often, the prizes are quite impressive. I have now won 3 fantastic prizes on Twitter and I couldn't be happier. You might think this is insanely good luck, but I actually don't usually win. You just don't hear about all the other great prizes I've coveted but that have gone to someone else. When I do win, however, it feels fantastic and I couldn't be happier with the results. So try it - often - and you just might get lucky! Also, if you are going to a food event and are not a big eater, bring some empty take-away containers with you. With the exception of fancy gala dinners, this is a very acceptable practice and nobody will look at you funny. In fact, they'll be quite jealous they didn't think of it themselves. And you'll be glad you did!

No comments:

Post a Comment