Before I start, my apologies to my adoring fans for the lame lack of posting over these past few weeks. Though not an excuse, work has gotten hectic again making it hard to post as much I would like. I will work on this! OK, to my post…
Something amazing happened this week. I had a huge meeting at work on Monday so after a 15-hour day in patent leather pumps, I had Stingray meet me for a cocktail before heading home for dinner. I landed on Magritte, a cute little Flemish brasserie right near our apartment.
I had been to Magritte before but didn’t pay it much attention; it has a tons of beers which I found intimidating and the food felt slightly overpriced. I knew Stingray would like it, because despite those mental blocks, it has lovely ambiance, a gorgeous white marble bar, forest green velvet booths, and French music playing at just the right volume. So we met there.
We intended on having ONE cocktail and heading home, but in good Eva – Stingray form, 5 hours pass, the restaurant lights are turned off and we’re drinking alone with the owner/bartender. This guy is amazing – a truly savvy restaurateur (he was telling us everyone who works for him is required to do multiple jobs in both the back and front of the house), an international man of mystery (Irish, raised in Belgium), and a fabulous gay (I thought I was going to faint while he was describing the 3-ovens he and his partner installed in their Queens abode). He talks a mile a minute (I could have benefited from subtitles at a certain point) and has so much passion and conviction about his place in this world. It was the best bar conversation I’ve had in a while.
Amidst all our chatting, we of course talked about food and cooking (almost every single dish at Magritte is cooked with beer!). At some ungodly hour, we finally peeled ourselves off the bar, and our new friend ever so generously gave me two bottles of beer so I could try my hand at boozy cooking too. He gave me:
Petrus Pale Ale which is apparently fermented in Calvados casks. If my 9th grade French class serves me correctly, Calvados is an apple brandy from the Normandy region of France. I love it; someone should buy me some for Christmas. I digress. Fermenting the beer in the brandy casks gives it gorgeous crisp, apple notes. I’m thinking I’ll do a vinaigrette with the beer and serve it with a roasted butternut squash and kale salad with preserved lemon.
The other bottle he gave me was Rodenbach, which is fermented in Burgundy casks so it has rich, deep velvety notes. I think the only thing this beer wants to make is a beef stew, so I’ll have to wait for Stingray to go out of town and I’ll make it then.
I’m so excited to give these new ingredients a go AND to hit up that awesome Flemish bar again soon…