Sunday, 7 March 2010

EVENT - Discovering the Beer and Chocolate Combo

Beer and chocolate as a combination isn't what you'd immediately think of, but an event last week aimed to change our minds. I like beer but it wouldn't be my choice when out drinking so I was intrigued and excited to try some new types. Kirsty Derry, Managing Director of the BitterSweet Partnership gave a short intro on the idea behind her venture, essentially she works to give women a voice in the beer industry and also to promote beer to women who haven't been encouraged to try and find something they like. If beer advertising wasn't so heavily aimed at men, more women would probably drink it.

The event was held at L'atelier des Chefs on London's Wigmore Street - who knew they had such a massive basement cooking area! It's a sleek space that offers cookery classes, even lunchtime ones for hard workers like me :) You can be taught to make a fabulous new meal then eat it too.

The start of the event was a bit of an education with a top expert telling us exactly what goes in to beers, what makes them light or dark or distinctive. We then discovered what sort of chocolate to team with different beers. Light ales like the Kasteel Cru went perfectly with strawberry and white chocolate. The orange accents in the Blue Moon went hand-in-hand with a beautiful orange cake covered in white chocolate icing.

The darker the beers got the the darker the chocolate until we tried a cherry beer, Bacchus Kriek, with Green & Blacks dark chocolate. That was my perfect combination! Here were my favourite of the beers...

First place: Bacchus Kriek
Second place: Blue Moon
Third place: Casteel Cru Rose

After the beer tasting session it was on to the truffle-making master-class (I'm at the back on the right in the pic above). We were set out in groups of 6 and although our group took a while to get started we most definitely ended up with the best set of chocs in the room. I'm sure my expert chopping had something to do with it... maybe. Each of the recipes we worked from contained one of the beers we had tried. Some beers were infused with cream, others were mixed with gelatine to make a jelly. It just goes to show that beer isn't such an unlikely baking ingredient for sweet treats after all.

My favourite Choc recipe: White truffle with Kasteel Cru Rose ganache rolled in crisp strawberry

It definitely did have an affect on me, the event that is not the beer. On my next girly meal at a friend's I took along some raspberry beer... yummy. The three favourites I mentioned above I'll probably buy again whereas before I very rarely have beer out of choice.

What about you? Are you a beer drinker? Which is your favourite?