Wild Beer Co make some of mine and Dr C’s favourite beers. So when the opportunity to attend their beer tasting and food pairing event at the Manchester Art Gallery Café arose, Dr C couldn’t say no!
Over to Dr C… The Gallery Café is situated in Manchester Art Gallery. It was reopened in June this year with Mary-Ellen McTague (of Aumbry acclaim) at the helm. The gallery made a suitably impressive location to champion pairing Wild Beer Co beer with exceptional food.
I must start by saying how beautiful the surroundings and table settings were! Then my eyes turned to the menu and I knew we were in a treat. Our first course was a Scallop Ceviche served with bisque and roasted corn. This was beautifully paired with Wild Beer Co Sleeping Lemons (edit from Miss Pond – best beer ever!) The dish on its own was incredible. Sharp from the ceviche, sweet from the scallops, with just a tiny bit of earthiness. When combined with the beer, something magical happened. Both the sharpness and sweetness were magnified and made me long for more of the ceviche!
This next course certainly raised a few eyebrows. It’s not every day that you eat snails, especially in Manchester. A few of the diners at the table had eaten snails before, but I hadn’t, so I had no idea what to expect. Mary-Ellen had chosen to serve the Snails with Wild Mushrooms, birch powder and malt loaf. If you can imagine those flavours together, then I think you’ll agree that serving it with Wild Beer Co Rooting Around Autumn beer was a perfect choice! The snails were perfection, and all of the flavours married together to rather wonderfully evoke the tastes of autumn. I really expected not to like the Rooting Around Autumn beer because of how dark it is, however it has a wonderfully light flavour with hints of toasted coconut, which worked so well with this dish.
I’m Scottish, and I’m game (sorry for the terrible pun) for anything venison related, so I was most excited to try this dish. Another brilliantly seasonal creation combining rich Venison with Barberries and decadently smooth celeriac puree. I would come back again purely to eat a bowl of the puree, honestly, it was heaven. I may be wrong on this, but I think there was a little confusion about the pairing on this one and we actually had Modus Operandi instead of the Beyond Modus. I will say, whichever of the two it was it worked incredibly well with the venison. I’d consider switching from my traditional red wine to the beer when having red meat or game.
Last but not least! I very much expected this course to look something like a cheeseboard when I read it one the menu. It couldn’t have been further from a traditional cheeseboard, and all the better for it. This dish paired Dale End Cheddar Custard with Toasted Brioche and Quince. This was served with one of Wild Beer Co’s most celebrtory beers – Ninkasi. A Belgian style Saison which undergoes a champagne fermentation. The sharpness of the beer perfectly cut through the more-ish-ness of the custard and really did make all the tastes sparkle.
After our meal we heard how Mary-Ellen put together the menu, and how everything is locally sourced. What really stuck with me was that she tasted the beers first and devised the dishes out of those flavours. You could really tell that the flavours weren’t an afterthought, but that they were halves of a whole when eaten and drunk together. I had such a great time at the event, I’ll be on the lookout for the next!
Have you been to an interesting food pairing pop up? Do you like Wild Beer Co Beer? Let me know in the comments,
P.S. Dr C attended this event with Cave Direct. All photos, words and opinions are her own.
P.P.S. Check out the last Wild Beer Co tasting Dr C went too!