Webisodes
The Basta/Bruery Pairing Dinner Prep
Peter Reinhart

We are moving now closer to the showdown between Kelly Whitaker, Al Henkin, and me on pizza versus Patrick Rue on beer.  It all began at, and was inspired by, this dinner at Basta - Wood Fired Eatery and Pizzeria, where Kelly and Al came up with a wonderful tasting menu inspired by some of the beers from Orange County artisan brewery, The Bruery.  In this segment you will see Al and Kelly briefing their serving staff on the courses and the beers, including Patrick's explanation of his IPL (Imperial Pale Lager as opposed to an India Pale Ale). There was a wonderful Farro Salad with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese (one of my all time favorites), as well as Pan Roasted Divers Scallops, Quail, Rack of Lamb, and a thoughtfully selected cheese course (see Al's mini-course on cheese and beer pairings in an earlier webisode). Most interesting of all is that Al and Kelly chose to go with a French theme rather than staying in their usual wheelhouse, Italian. Of course, they both paid their dues for years working in fine French dining, so this was but a mere dip into their previous treasure chest of training and a chance to flex their wings.

This all leads to our next webisode, coming soon, when we all sit down and come up with the Signature Pizza/Beer Challenge. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Enjoy this one first, an appetizer, so to speak, of things to come.

 
Spectacular Sous Vide Short Ribs at Basta
Peter Reinhart

In this installment of the Basta series, as we inch closer to the big pizza/beer throw down, Kelly Whitaker takes us through his process for making one of the most amazing meat dishes I've ever had. A few years ago very few people knew of the cooking method called sous vide, which means, "under vacuum." Now, because of high profile chefs like Thomas Keller, as well as exposure on television and recent books like Modernist Cuisine, most foodies have at least heard of it and some are even buying home models of the immersion circulator you will see in this webisode.  What I love is how Kelly adapts this vacuum pressure method and marries it with his traditional wood-fired oven technique to get the best of both worlds, a super tender (like budder) yet still medium rare 48 hour cooked piece of short rib, which is then charred in the oven to create a crisp, caramelized, smokey crust.  Notice also the accompanying side dishes, local greens sauteed in pork belly fat, and a super creamy parsnip puree. Lush, memorable, yet simple food!

At the end of this segment we begin the transition, a tease really, towards the beer and pizza challenge between Kelly, Al Henkin (who appears briefly at the end with the beers), and the fabulous micro-brewery, The Bruery. We've been laying the stage for all of this in previous segments, exploring the cooking philosophy behind Basta's rustic yet explosively flavorful food and beverage pairings. In coming segments we'll bring all the pieces together as the Basta team and I challenge The Bruery to create a new beer inspired by our one-of-a-kind pizza. Onward....

 

 
A Pairing of Beer and Cheese at Basta
Peter Reinhart

As our story progresses, we've already introduced you to Kelly Whitaker in the previous two segments and now we meet Alan Henkin, the co-owner (with Kelly) and also the Beverage Director of Basta, in Boulder CO.  In this webisode segment, Alan and Kelly take us through a virtual master class of beer and cheese pairing, as well as showing how it compares to more familiar wine and cheese pairings. In essence, they touch on the major principles of food pairing in general. In these brief six minutes you will go through the same process they and other chefs and beverage directors go through on a daily basis when determining what to match with what.  I love the moment when Alan explains that the Roquefort, "… brings out the fruit in this beer that I wouldn't have found before." Fruit? Who knew?

By the way, the cheese close-ups are luscious -- I wanted cheese so badly after watching this footage again and it brought me back to the day we filmed there. Not many people know this, but before I was a bread baker I was a cheese maker -- I think cheese is the most magical of foods and, like bread, a powerful symbol of transformation. Simple milk turned into so many delicious manifestations! Notice also how Alan, before tasting his beer or wine, sniffs it (I also sniff cheese in the same way).  It has been said that we experience flavor by 80% through aroma and the olfactory senses and only 20% on the tongue.  Many of you probably already know this, but watching Alan savor his beverages in this way reminded me of how much flavor I often leave unexperienced (and thus unappreciated) as I rush through my food. It's like leaving money on the table.

This segment is a terrific stand-alone episode that, for many of us, will elevate our understanding of this creative and gastronomical process but, in addition, it serves as an important appetizer for the segments that will follow over the next few months. As we follow this lesson in beer and cheese pairing it will lead us into the main course, the pizza/beer challenge between the fabulous craft brewery called The Bruery, owned by Patrick Rue, who briefly appears in this segment (he's the one who looks like Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys), and Kelly, Alan, and our Pizza Quest team. It all culminates many months later, in the shadow of The Great American Beer Festival in Denver. It's a long story, and we'll bring it to you in short bites, so, savor this one as a prelude and know that we will be building upon it in the segments still to come.

 

 

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Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

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