Barley, hops, yeast, as well as flavours and aromas of spices, nuts, chocolate, seared sirloin, fruits and vegetables – an evening of beer and food pairing may just be the palette-friendly thing to do in the month of Oktoberfest.
The team behind Crowne Plaza Nairobi’s flagship fine dining restaurant, Sikia, is offering beer lovers and those who appreciate all things gustatory a unique opportunity on Wednesday 29th October to explore and experience a curated journey of beer and food pairings.
The menu is written in bold strokes, very much like the beers themselves – Simpils, ChuiKolsch, Kifabock, Temstout and Nyatipa – which are sensibly paired…some expected, and some not so much.
To begin, the soy sauce and sesame oil marinated King prawns deep-fried in a crispy tempura batter paired with the classic medium-bodied Pilsner, Simpils, was a delicious union accentuated by freshness and a flowery hop aroma.
For the vegetarians, the deep-fried butternut squash dusted with cashews in a light tempura batter was so moreish with its homemade tartare sauce accompaniment that the dish ought to be against the law to sell without a pale blonde ale on the side, such as the ChuiKolsch. The medium bitterness of the ale cut-through the oiliness of the batter and as for flavour, was perfectly balanced by the natural sugars of the soft flesh of the butternut.
The exclusive one-time beer pairing dinner is available on Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 for Kshs 4,500 per person. Crowne Plaza Nairobi is located on Kenya Road, Upperhill, Nairobi, Kenya. T: +254 20 274 6000
There was the savoury soup course with a rich stock of roast lamb and a full-bodied intense Belgian-style Dubbel Bock with caramel overtones to match. The stock, beautiful and crystal clear, revealed delicious layers of flavours – thyme, rosemary, carmelized vegetables, chili and of course, lamb.
The succulent beef steak set on top of a disc of arrowroot mash, topped with onion and mushroom quenelle and surrounded with dark gravy strengthened with coffee and chocolate arrived beautifully and was something totally unexpected. The rich gravy heightened with coffee and chocolate was subtle, but its strengthened twist was unusual on its own. However, taken with a Temstout, a black and full-bodied beer distinguished by coffee and dark chocolate aromas, the pairing was a flavourful and bold revelation.
Unfortunately vegetarian pairings always seem to lackluster in comparison, with paneer as an overused substitute at such culinary events. I’m happy to report paneer did not appear on this menu, and as a meat lover, I found myself enjoying the vegetarian pairings immensely with food that wrapped around my palate, enveloping the whole mouth with flavour in delicate subtleties. As a vegetarian, you will graze quite happily on the deep-fried butternut squash with cashews, carmelized root vegetables simmered gently in a dark gold stock of vegetables and herbs, a slow-cooked mushroom and onion risotto surrounded with a rich gravy strengthened with coffee and chocolate, and an excellent orange sauce for the vanilla ice cream infused with Brie cheese.
It’s a pretty impressive strike rate, especially for a restaurant that is only beginning to venture into whisky, wine and beer pairings. The Sikia team has ignored the rules and simply relied on their own sense of what’s good and what’s going to work. The result is an evening of spontaneous culinary delights. The value is strong, the service is gentle, and the food is definitely memorable.
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