Friday, November 9, 2007
The Best of American Beer & Food
Don't think The Best of American Beer & Food by Lucy Saunders is just another recipe book. Sure, there are plenty of recipes, but there's so much more. The author gets right down to business. The first two chapters go into depth about two classic foods that pair remarkably well with beer; cheese and chocolate. Typically people think "wine and cheese" but we know better don't we? Not only does Saunders provide examples of cheese and beer pairings, but she explains how to plan a beer and cheese tasting. The chapter on chocolate is mouth watering as well. Both of these chapters include recipes to match the topic.
The next six chapters are divided up by U.S. geography. Remember, the subject is the best of American beer and food. Saunders introduces us to regional specialties and the people who bring them to the table. Throughout the book, the author draws on her extensive circle of friends in the brewing and cooking world. You might be well-advised to consult this book when planning a trip. Saunders gives us a tour of how the restaurants of the region are integrating beer into their recipes and menus. These chapters are a treasure trove of "words of wisdom" from the chefs and brewers on how to cook with beer and how to choose the right beers to serve with the food.
The remaining chapters of the book are devoted to recipes and the beers that go with them. The contributors to these chapters read like a who's who of American restaurants and breweries. These are not your simple beer bread or beer chili recipes. The foods discussed here are varied and many can best be described as "fine dining." But there's nothing pretentious in the book. The writing in the book is very conversational and the recipes clear. Although many of the recipes come from restaurants, they've been adapted for the home cook. Not all of the recipes include beer as an ingredient but suggested beers to serve with the dish are listed. It's not just about cooking with beer, it's about food AND beer, together.
Visit Lucy Saunders' website at www.beercook.com for more writings and recipes from the author. She also blogs at her new website www.bestofamericanbeerandfood.com where you can read more about the contributors and find out about upcoming book signings. I'll be reporting back as we work our way through some of the recipes from this book in our kitchen.
Update: Read about a couple of the dishes we tried here. And here.