On the 21st we celebrated my mother’s birthday by visiting P. F. Chang’s, a great Chinese restaurant. It provided an excellent opportunity to try a couple of beverages which I had not yet had the pleasure of imbibing. So, here are a few things you might want to try yourself.
I opened the meal with Magic Hat #9, which is produced by a famed Colorado craft brewer which I have avoided until now for some reason. Initially, my lack of surety concerning what style the #9 stood for almost made me pass up this beer. Then, I figured that, if the sommelier here has any intelligence, this beer should fall into one of these styles: Belgian Tripel, Dubbel, or Witbier, IPA, or American Pale Ale. These beers, especially Belgian Abbey ales, pair marvelously with Asian cuisine. If you don’t believe me, pay a trip to the Mekong restaurant in Richmond. Their beer list is huge–the size of their selection of Belgian ales is particularly astounding. This makes for a great dining experience. On the advice of a friend of mine who had the pleasure of staying in Belgium, we selected the St. Feuillein’s Tripel. I shall leave off this digression by saying that no other Tripel has bested it before of since.
Now, dear readers, let us to return to the Magic Hat #9. According the the bottle, the style is “not quite pale ale.” Not exactly sure what that meant, I poured a glass and had a taste. A sweet orange flavor stands out prominently with a dash of orange peel for a tinge of complexity. The water with which they made this beer must have been incredibly soft: usually, beers with a citrus flavor to them are a little rough. This one goes down very smoothly, and the softness of the beer adds to one’s enjoyment–even if not terribly complex.
Then, I switched gears. Having perused the sake list, I next asked for a glass of Momokawa Diamond. This brewer’s Momokawa Pearl had been very enjoyable, so good things were expected from this one, and this Oregonian sake did not disappoint. It had a vibrant green apple flavor buoyed up by some mineral notes such as one finds in Riesling from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. In the background, this sake also possessed that unique, glutinous flavor known umami, which restrained the green apple and minerality just enough. You can enjoy this with anything for which you’d open a bottle of Riesling or Gewurztraminer. (For those of you who don’t know, a light Pinot Noir–say, from Oregon or Burgundy, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris are the best European wines to pair with Asian cooking.)
Once we returned home, we treated my mother with some strawberry-chocolate cake. A Belgian kriek, i.e. a spontaneously fermented lambic ale which underwent a second fermentation with cherries, was paired with this. It reminded me very much of cherry soda, except that its sweetness was restrained by its beeriness and sour apple flavor. Overall, a very good kriek from Lindemann’s. Only have it with dessert!