Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.
In A Year in Food & Beer, Emily Baime and Darin Michaels offer a guide for pairing a world of beers with specific recipes and seasons. They encourage readers to pay attention to what they are drinking, noting how summer's heat requires sharper, more citric flavors, whereas winter's chill calls for darker, more roasted brews.
Besides offering their own recipes with specific brew suggestions, Baime and Michaels provide helpful information about the different types of beer so we can start to make our own successful pairings. I particularly like the extras, such as the section titled "Care of Beer and Glassware" and the solid advice on pouring.
The heart of the book is made up of recipes plus beer suggestions, organized by season. Here is where A Year in Food & Beer gives mixed results. Before I get to the details, I want to make it clear that I read an ARC, and some of the issues I mention may have been corrected in the finished book.
The Beer Pairings: As expected, Baime and Michaels tell us which beers go well with each of the recipes in the book. They not only provide a general description of the paired drink (such as aged wheat beer, porter, or fruit-forward beer) but also name specific beers by brewing company and label. In addition they tell us why those beers work well with the recipe, so we are learning, not just following along blindly. I was pleased to see that the authors were not afraid to tackle some of the more difficult foods (asparagus, artichokes, caviar, and desserts), increasing our confidence when serving guests.
The Beer and Cheese Party: The last chapter of the book contains "detailed tasting notes to pair fifteen beer styles with cheese." This section is a gold mine of information about how to host a tasting party, including glassware, serving temperatures, and advice for how to make your party informative but still fun.
The Recipes: Here is where Baime and Michaels were less successful. First, the recipes are arranged oddly within each seasonal category, jumping from desserts to sides to main dishes willy-nilly. Second, the directions are not kitchen friendly. For instance, oven temperatures are not always listed early enough to allow for preheating, and yields aren't provided. Finally, although the dishes are appealing--such as grilled trout, vegetarian lasagna, and pork meat balls--they are common enough that most readers will already have a favorite tried-and-true recipe.
The Bottom Line: Refer to A Year in Food & Beer to help you learn more about beer and how it pairs with the food you plan to serve your family and guests. Although I'm sure there are more comprehensive beer pairing books available, Baime and Michaels offer a reasonable place to begin. On the other hand, you'll probably not be motivated to try the recipes, though you may want to host a tasting party.
Rowan & Littefield Publishers / AltaMira Press, 2013
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright 2013 cbl for www.BethFishReads.com