As our story progresses, we've already introduced you to Kelly Whitaker in the previous two segments and now we meet Alan Henkin, the co-owner (with Kelly) and also the Beverage Director of Basta, in Boulder CO. In this webisode segment, Alan and Kelly take us through a virtual master class of beer and cheese pairing, as well as showing how it compares to more familiar wine and cheese pairings. In essence, they touch on the major principles of food pairing in general. In these brief six minutes you will go through the same process they and other chefs and beverage directors go through on a daily basis when determining what to match with what. I love the moment when Alan explains that the Roquefort, "… brings out the fruit in this beer that I wouldn't have found before." Fruit? Who knew?
By the way, the cheese close-ups are luscious -- I wanted cheese so badly after watching this footage again and it brought me back to the day we filmed there. Not many people know this, but before I was a bread baker I was a cheese maker -- I think cheese is the most magical of foods and, like bread, a powerful symbol of transformation. Simple milk turned into so many delicious manifestations! Notice also how Alan, before tasting his beer or wine, sniffs it (I also sniff cheese in the same way). It has been said that we experience flavor by 80% through aroma and the olfactory senses and only 20% on the tongue. Many of you probably already know this, but watching Alan savor his beverages in this way reminded me of how much flavor I often leave unexperienced (and thus unappreciated) as I rush through my food. It's like leaving money on the table.
This segment is a terrific stand-alone episode that, for many of us, will elevate our understanding of this creative and gastronomical process but, in addition, it serves as an important appetizer for the segments that will follow over the next few months. As we follow this lesson in beer and cheese pairing it will lead us into the main course, the pizza/beer challenge between the fabulous craft brewery called The Bruery, owned by Patrick Rue, who briefly appears in this segment (he's the one who looks like Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys), and Kelly, Alan, and our Pizza Quest team. It all culminates many months later, in the shadow of The Great American Beer Festival in Denver. It's a long story, and we'll bring it to you in short bites, so, savor this one as a prelude and know that we will be building upon it in the segments still to come.