Eat Local: A Singularly Delicious Pairing

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I was a guest of Kingfisher’s for the evening, but received no other consideration. All opinions are my own.

Beer has come a long way in BC. Not all that long ago, a beer and a meal meant mass-produced lager and a wan remembrance of English pub food.

These days, it’s an exciting prospect. With excellent breweries popping up around the province and many restaurants’ laser-focus on the best of local food, there’s no predicting what will happen when they come together.

Last month, I benefitted from such a collaboration between Kingfisher’s Waterfront Bar & Grill in Maple Ridge and Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery. The occasion was the pouring of a very special stout and the carefully constructed tasting plate my brother, Chef Sean, dreamed up to go with it.

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Driftwood’s Singularity Russian Imperial Beer is delicious bottled, but it’s even better when it’s been cellared. Ted Hume, one of Kingfisher’s owners, opened a cellared barrel of the 2014 vintage and invited guests to enjoy it with Chef Sean’s tasting plate.

We had a glass of a more recent vintage, which is everything I love about stout – full of flavours like coffee and chocolate, refreshing and filling all at once. This stout has an extra layer of flavour imparted by the bourbon barrels it’s aged in, too, making it even deeper and darker than I’ve come to expect. As good as it was, the cellared beer was astonishingly better. It needed to be sipped and savoured, more like scotch than beer, and the flavours were even more complex and pronounced. As Driftwood representative Asia said that night, it’s a challenging beer to pair.

I may be biased, but Chef Sean’s tasting plate met the challenge perfectly. He started with a brioche crostini with bacon in a bourbon-caramel sauce, dusted with pecan. Then, lamb sirloin with a port-cherry demi glaze over blue cheese infused mashed potatoes. Finally, a beignet with dark chocolate sauce, sprinkled with brown sugar. Sipping the beer between bites, these dishes enhanced and were enhanced by the Singularity. The only thing I could have asked for was a second round.

Ted and Asia were kind enough to talk more about the event, the night’s offerings, and the synergy between Kingfisher’s and Driftwood’s philosophies, in a Periscope interview that I’ve captured here:

This synergy extends beyond the presenters of the evening, right onto the plate. Bacon from Gelderman Farms, brioche from A Bread Affair, blue cheese from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, and more were showcased in this meal, companies that put as much effort into collaborating with restaurants as they do the quality of their products.

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It made for a room full of happy eaters and drinkers, including my mother and me – though we didn’t order a second round, we indulged in a few more plates of food (including some fabulous crab cakes and a tiramisu so wonderful I forgot to photograph it).

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FFWD – Vegetable Barley Quinoa Soup with the Taste of Little India

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My little brother is a mean, mean man. He’s a chef, working at the sort of locavore, casual-to-fine-dining restaurant that you know I love. The problem is that it’s 50 kilometres away and Sean sends me photos of what’s on the night’s menu, when he knows there’s no hope of me booking a car and heading out deep into the heart of the Fraser Valley. Like I said, mean.

If you don’t believe me, here’s one of the photos he sent me tonight.

Photo by Chef Sean.
Photo by Chef Sean.

Yes, that’s a perfect Caprese staring back at you. Sigh…

Luckily, we have a delicious, vegan soup on our own fresh sheet tonight, keeping me from becoming too morose. It’s flavoured with garam masala, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. It’s also meant to have barley in it, but we went gluten-free and used quinoa instead. It’s the sort of meal Kevin has been working toward, as he eats vegetarian or vegan most of the time now. There’s lots of protein in the quinoa and the soup itself is surprisingly hearty. Meatless meals have always been a big part of my diet, but I might find myself crumbling some bacon on tomorrow’s leftovers, as my brother the chef suggested. Then again, I might not – this soup doesn’t really need it.

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Judge for yourself. You can find the recipe here, along with interviews with three of our most lovely Doristas.

And you can find out what everyone else thought of this week’s recipe here.