On the short list of things I’m really enthusiastic about, beer, food, and books all rank fairly highly.
That’s why I was pretty excited to check out a review of copy of the book “Food & Beer,” by Daniel Burns, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø,and Joshua David Stein.
Burns and Jarnit-Bjergsø share space in Brooklyn where their respective attached homes, Luksus and Tørst, elevate beer to the status it deserves as they pair it with both casual food and fine dining in two environments that rank among the coolest places to drink a beer I’ve ever seen. Tørst is humbly self-described as a neighborhood bar, but it is in fact a barnboard, white-marble, and mirrored shrine to good beer where serious beer enthusiasts come to drink from Tørst’s custom wine glasses and beer is the only beverage served. Essentially, Jarnit-Bjergsø is overseeing the physical embodiment of the happy place from my dream journal (Incidentally Jarnit-Bjergsø is also the evil twin who founded Evil Twin Brewing).
Daniel Burns oversees the menu of casual fare at Tørst where, at the back of the bar is a “secret” door leading to Luksus, a 16-seat tasting menu restaurant that Burns helms, where diners are “transported to a Nordic-inspired evening, influenced by the chef’s time in England and America, and his childhood in Nova Scotia.” Each dish at Luksus is paired exclusively with beer chosen by Jarnit-Bjergsø. Wine and cocktails are not available. Because fuckin’ eh, man.
Burns and Jarnit-Bjergsø have written this book with Joshua David Stein (the food critic for New York Observer) and, as you might have guessed by the flurry of credentials I’ve already thrown at you, the book is dope, as the kids say.
The first half of the book, titled simple “Tørst,” is divided into sections that showcase ten flavors that the authors feel beer and food most closely share: Bitter, Funky, Sweet, Earthy, Sour, Smoky, Tart, Spicy, Fruity, and Tasty. Jarnit-Bjergsø explains which styles and which beers best embody these flavors and why. Then Burns discusses how those flavors are used in his kitchen. Jarnit-Bjergsø picks a beer for each category and Burns chooses a recipe from Tørst, sometimes complementary—sometimes contrasting—for each selection.
The second half of the book, titled “Luksus,” features a handful of Daniel Burns’ recipes from the restaurant and this half is also organized by categories: Snacks, First Servings, Broths, Main Servings, and Desserts, followed by a Pantry section. Naturally, each are accompanied by specific beer pairings chosen by Jarnit-Bjergsø.
With apologies to some Ontario-based writers who also have written books on the subject, Food & Beer is hands down my pick for your must-have beer book. The book explores the nature, taste, and flavor of beers being brewed around the world today and includes tasting notes and thoughts on how to pair these beers with food (in addition to 75+ recipes).
On top of that, the book itself is gorgeous. It features beautiful colour images of food and beer (naturally) and was shot on-site at both locations so that you can check out the super cool spaces where these ideas are brought to life. Sadly, I only got to review a PDF copy since no amount of pleading and/or offers for blood sacrifices could convince the publishers to send a lowly blogger an actual book to review, but even the PDF is cool (or as cool as a PDF can be…).
If you live in Toronto and want to get your hands on a copy (and trust me, you do), you’ll have a unique opportunity to do so and to meet and chat with all three of the book’s authors at George Brown College on Monday May 30th at 6:30pm.
The public event will feature a Q&A with the authours, followed by a book signing reception. Naturally such an event requires good beer (as do all events, really) and the organizers have wisely invited some great local brewers to provide refreshments, so you can enjoy beers from Side Launch, Beau’s, Left Field, Indie Ale House, and Great Lakes Brewery.
Tickets for the event (available here) are $75 and they include a copy of the book (which will retail for $59.95 in Canada), so it ain’t too shabby.
The publisher of the book has handily sent along a recipe from the book as well, so if you want to judge the book beforehand by cooking something from the internet, I’ve included the recipe for roasted beets and almond dip, below.
ROASTED BEETS, ALMOND DIP
Adapted from Food & Beer by Daniel Burns and Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø with Joshua David Stein
- 4 bunches mixed beets or 4 large red beets (beetroot)
- 70 g blanched, peeled, and sliced almonds
- 100 g yogurt, plus more as needed
- 25 g roasted garlic
- 6 g Pickled Hot Peppers liquid (Pantry page 249)
- 6 g sherry vinegar
- 20 g fromage blanc
- 15 g shallot, minced
- 5 g fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
- 2 g honey
- 2 g dill, chopped
- Maldon salt
- Celery Salt
Roast the beets:
Preheat the oven to 395°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6.
Clean the beets and remove the greens and any dirt. Cover each with foil to completely enclose.
Roast the beets on a baking sheet in the oven until the beets are fork-tender, about 2 hours. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Leave the oven on but reduce the temperature to 215°F/100°C/Gas Mark 1/4.
Using a kitchen towel, peel off the beet skins by wiping them forcefully. Then insert and twist a small paring knife into the flesh of the beet to break them into smaller pieces. Repeat until each beet yields 10 to 12 irregularly shaped 1/4-inch/6 mm chunks. Return the beets to a baking sheet and place in the oven to dehydrate. After 11/2 hours, the beets should be dry to the touch and slightly shriveled and intensified in flavor. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and set aside.
Make the almond dip:
While the beets are roasting (at 395°F/200°C), spread the almonds on a baking sheet and place in the oven until they turn the color of peanut butter, about 6 minutes. (Ideally, though, the almonds should be roasted at 320°F/160°C for 10 to 12 minutes.) Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Measure out 15 g of the almonds, roughly chop, and set aside. In a blender, combine the remaining almonds, the yogurt, garlic, pickled pepper liquid, and vinegar. Blend until very smooth and transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining base ingredients; then fold in the reserved chopped almonds. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the fromage blanc, shallot, lemon juice, honey, and dill into the purée. Adjust the seasoning with lemon juice and salt. A small amount of additional yogurt may be used to thin the dip if needed. Cover and refrigerate until plating.
Assemble the dish:
About 45 minutes before serving, while the beets are drying in the oven, remove the almond dip from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Place the warm beets on a serving plate and lightly sprinkle with celery salt. Serve the beets with the almond dip.