"Jamon, Aussie, Jamon... Jamon"
This, I think, should be the cheer I will sing at all functions from now on.
Tonight I'm at a beer tasting dinner at MUMU Grill, a preview event by owner and head chef Craig Macindoe before the soon-to-be regular event is launched to the public in March. We're also among the first to check out the new private dining room, a previously underutilised alcove that has been renovated into an intimate space with a cabin feel, especially with the woodfired oven against one wall.
Private dining room
We'd started with beer in champagne classes outside, a little odd at first, but the Hefeweizen, by Moo Brew in Tasmania, has a crispness and bubble factor not unlike sparkling wine.
Tonight's event focuses on beer, specifically boutique beers, and co-host Dan Hampton, from Beer Snobs, is filled with undeniable passion about the subject. Whilst wine tasting events are quite common, there are few opportunities for people to really explore the nuances of beer. Beer is notoriously difficult to brew, Dan explains, and harder to control than wine. This is primarily due to the number of ingredients in beer, but also by the fact that yeast has to be artificially introduced into beer, unlike wine.
House-made bread, garden-grown Ox Heart tomatoes
and 18-month Jamon Serrano
After snacking on canapes of beef tartare made from grass-fed Angus Pure beef, we move inside the dining room to start our beer journey.
Platters of house-made herb bread (soft and light) are served with giant garden-grown Ox Heart tomatoes and paper thin shavings of 18-month Jamon Serrano. The Jamon makes me weak at the knees, a melt-in-the-mouth lusciousness of cured pork bliss.
Murray's Pilsner from Port Stephens
It's paired with our second beer of the evening, a Murray's Pilsner, and we're taken through the process of proper beer tasting.
How to taste beer:
- Pour carefully, avoiding too much foam
- Swirl vigorously
- Observe the three Cs: colour, clarity and carbonation
- Smell by inhaling deeply three times
- Taste and savour, remembering to use the back of your throat
Pacific oysters (left) and Sydney Rock Oysters right
Oysters au naturel are next, the Sydney Rocks are superb, and are matched with Marston's Oyster Stout, the only foreign beer we will drinking tonight.
Marston's Oyster Stout from the UK
Oyster stout is said to have originally come about when oysters were placed in the barrel during the beer fermenting process. The oyster stout by Marston's doesn't have oysters in it, but it's interesting to note its savoury characteristics. Many of us detect Vegemite, probably a result of the yeast, and I get a slight soy sauce echo, in a good way of course.
Pigs Fly Pale Ale by Bowral Brewing Company
Pigs Fly Pale Ale immediately reminds me of my cooking hero Pig Flyin!
Slow-cooked pork shoulder cooked in Pigs Fly pale ale
served on baked cannelini beans with deep-fried sage leaves
The pale ale is paired with a slow-cooked pork shoulder, cooked in the same ale. The pork has been cooked for 11 hours and is incredibly tender. Bacon baked beans, using cannelini beans, have an earthiness to them that is comforting, but the sage leaves are the most addictive, whole leaves dipped in tempura batter and then deep-fried. "We deep-fry them all the time and have them as snacks in the kitchen," Craig says.
The wood-fired oven
Reserve Lager by Enterprise Knappstein Brewery, South Australia
We move onto a lager, matched with the main meal of the evening: meat and potatoes.
Angus Pure 1.2kg T-bone cooked tagliata-style with garlic and rosemary
The 1.2kg T-bone is a sight to behold. Craig, a vocal proponent of grass-fed beef, stocks nothing but grass-fed beef in his restaurant, believing the flavour and texture is superior to grain-fed stock. He is also a firm believer in sustainability and supporting local producers.
The beef is cooked to a juicy medium-rare and sliced into strips, tagliata-style, with liberal amounts of garlic and rosemary scattered throughout. The end piece is particularly good, ribboned with big chunks of fat. Duck fat potatoes are also tasty.
Duck fat potatoes
Red Emperor Amber Ale by Fish Rock Brewery, Mittagong
Red Emperor Amber Ale has a distinct lychee aroma. Usually the tasting notes that include fruits seem optimistic to my palate, but in this beer the smell of lychees is unmistakeable.
Braised cuttlefish and chorizo
Braised cuttlefish and chorizo seem like an unusual pairing but the cuttlefish is enviably tender, served with sliced of seared spicy chorizo and a salad of finely shredded red cabbage and microgreens that is light and refreshing.
Dark Ale by Moo Brew, Tasmania
Our final beer is a Dark Ale by Moo Brew. Incredibly it does taste like chocolate, as the tasting notes suggest.
Sour cherry chocolate tart served with hazelnut gelato
A sour cherry chocolate tart is the finale for the evening and it's so good that Billy, Karen and I all dig into seconds. The base has a buttery crumb and the tart is chocolately but fluffy, with occasional encounters of whole hazelnuts or tart dried sour cherries.
It's an informative evening, and especially inspiring when Dan tells us that women are said to make better beer tasters, noted for their ability to identify and articulate different flavours and aromas in beer.
The Beer Tasting Dinners are set to commence in March 2010. For upcoming event details, keep an eye on the MUMU website or blog.
Grab Your Fork attended the Beer Tasting Dinner as a guest of MUMU head chef and owner Craig Macindoe.
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70 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9460 6877
Open 7 days
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
MUMU Grill, Crows Nest (Apr10), (Feb10) and (Jul09)
Crows Nest - Counter, The (Burgers)
Crows Nest - Grill'd (Burgers)
Crows Nest - MUMU Grill (Mod Aust)
Crows Nest - Not Bread Alone (Mod Aust)
Crows Nest - Paradoxe Restaurant Francais (French)
Crows Nest - Ryo's Noodles (Mar08), (Aug07) and (Jul07) (Japanese ramen)
Crows Nest - Vineyard, The (Mod Aust)
Crows Nest - Waqu (Japanese)
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2/08/2010 06:00:00 am