Categories
czech republic Snacks to beer

Snacks to Beer: Czech-style nakladaný hermelin

Nakladaný hermelin is, as far as we can fathom, a soft Camembert-type cheese (hermelin) steeped in oil with various flavourings.

We had several rounds of it in pubs in the Czech Republic (Pivni Filosof seems to live off the stuff) and thought it looked like an easy recipe to recreate at home.

You need

  • One Camembert cheese or similar
  • An onion (we used red onion)
  • Juniper berries
  • Paprika (sweet, hottish)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Red pepper
  • Pickled chillies

To make it…

  1. Cut the cheese in half horizontally, like a sponge cake ready for filling. Spread a teaspoon of paprika, several slices of onion, and salt and pepper inside, and then press it back together.
  2. Put more slices of onion, a pickled chilli and three or four juniper berries in a dish and then put the cheese on top.
  3. Put more slices of onion and another pickled chilli on top of the cheese.
  4. Cover the whole lot with olive oil.
  5. Clingfilm it and stick it in the fridge.
  6. After a few days (three’s probably a safe bet — any more and you’re dicing with death when it comes to preserving in oil) take it out and drain off the oil. Remove the juniper berries.
  7. Serve it on a plate with all of the onions and chillis from the dish, plus some small slices of red pepper.
  8. Eat it with a nice beer and some crusty bread.

Happy Christmas!

Categories
Snacks to beer

Snacks to Beer: the kebab!


Yes, this is the big one.

Kebabs are intrinsically associated with beer in many European countries. We don’t know about Germany where the vertically-grilled doner originated, but in Britain, they’re more-or-less only eaten by drunk people.

They’re different all over the continent, of course. In Germany, they favour a fluffier, lighter ‘fladenbrot’. In Britain, it’s usually a boring old pitta bread. Our local is run by Mauritians, though, who (weirdly) do the best naan breads in London, which is what they use as the base for their kebabs. That’s covered in grilled meat, stacks of veg, yoghurt and lethal chilli sauce.

When it’s done, you’re left with a polystyrene box full of bright red grease.

We know kebabs are bad for us, but that doesn’t stop us craving them from time to time. For the sake of our hearts, though, we’ve learned to make a slightly healthier version at home.

Here’s the recipe.

Categories
Snacks to beer

Pretzels — the definitive recipe

I’ve been trying to work out how to make proper German-style pretzels for a couple of years now. They’re just perfect with a pint — filling, salty and, well, German.

Today, I finally nailed it.

There are lots of recipes around and I tried most of them, but none quite seemed to do the trick. The texture was never quite right – it should be chewy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Our recent trip to Germany only made me more determined to crack the problem — I couldn’t bear the thought of waiting until our next holiday to have another pretzel!

Boak did manage to find authentic pretzels in a German bakery on the Brompton Road and it was inspecting one of those that helped me perfect my recipe.

Almost any fluffy white dough will do. The tricks are all in the finishing. Specifically, the shape you roll the dough into before you make the famous pretzel shape; the fact that you boil it before baking; coating it with a solution of bicarbonate of soda [UPDATE: use about one level teaspoon of bicarb]; and slashing the top with a knife.

Recipe after the jump.

Categories
beer festivals beer reviews Franconia london pubs Snacks to beer

German beer festival at Zeitgeist

What better use of a day’s holiday than to pretend you’re in Germany? And how much easier when someone has gone and laid on a German beer festival for you, complete with many beers dispensed Franconian-style out of little wooden barrels.

This excellent little festival was brought to us by Zeitgeist, a great German pub in Vauxhall, Stonch’s beer blog, and Bier-Mania, who organise beer trips to Belgium, Germany and beyond.

This won’t be a detailed review, as we drank too much to remember many details — as did everyone else, by the sound of it … there are now no more festival beers left.

We remember a large range of beer from the Bolten-Brauerei from outside Duesseldorf, with their Alt being particularly nice. Hofmann Export Dunkel Lagerbier was a great example of the complexity that Franconian Dunkels can deliver. Our stand-out favourite was a Dunkel-Rauch by SternBrau-Scheubel which had a gorgeous Maerzen-like malt flavour and amber colour, with a hefty hoppiness and a subtle but complex smoke taste.

We thought the mix of people and the atmosphere was great – some tickers, some trendies, some locals, but everyone getting into it. It was the kind of place you could bring non-beer geeks to (we did) without worrying about whether they’d have a good time.

Also, the excellent range of Brotzeit really helped line the stomach – Obatzda is an acquired taste, but I love the stuff, and they make it well here.

This was easily one of my favourite festivals of all time. Do it again, chaps!

Boak

For another perspective, see Allyson’s write-up on her Impy Malting blog.

Ron Pattinson blogged about Hofmann here.

Categories
Snacks to beer Spain

Snacks to beer — Pintxos

pinxos2.jpgA pintxo (or pincho) is any tasty little morsel of food you can nibble with a drink and some good company. In practice, these days they’re usually slice of baguette with interesting toppings, speared through with a cocktail stick.

Although they´re to be found all over Spain (particularly in studenty places like Salamanca), the Basque country is the spiritual home of the pintxo, where even the caff in the railway station has a few on the counter.

In some bars, they bung you a couple for free, to accompany your drink. In most places, they’re a Euro-or-so each. You help yourself, generally, and present all the used cocktail sticks at the end of the night so they can tot up the bill.

They’re yet another brilliant “snack-to-beer”. Whatever the experts say, salty food is great with beer. Sometimes, we find we really only get a real sense of the taste of a particular beer when we’ve calibrated our tastebuds with a salty snack.

Here are some excellent Pintxo toppings to accompany a glass of almost anything:

1. Pickled fish — sounds grim, but sweet, salty little bits of herring or anchovy go exceedingly well with beer.
2. Tapenade (olive paste) — salt and oil, basically, with some spiciness from the olives.
3. Small pieces (what they call “goujons” in pretentious pubs) of battered salt cod — salt, oil… are you beginning to see the pattern here?
4. Spanish omelette — nothing soaks up booze better than spuds and, although the thought of eggy potatoes and beer might not sound that appetising, it works a treat.
5. Anchovy and cream cheese — not the pickled variety, but the dark brown salty, oily ones you get on cheap pizzas.

To be honest, you can put just about anything on a bite-sized slice of bread and it works. And they’re very easy to make. Give it a go.