I was seated in Lidia Bastianich’s restaurant, Felidia in New York City looking at other diners in the restaurant swirling and sipping their wine. My attention focused for a moment on one of the restaurant’s cicerones. He was standing beside our table explaining the characteristics of a beer. Two plates were placed at my setting and my mind wandered away as our server slowly poured a wild ale into my glass. He went on to describe the culinary creation of Chef Fortunato Nicotra but I was lost in the thought that craft beer and fine cuisine were being highlighted together in a world-class restaurant. Talk about validation. Craft beer has certainly come a long way.
The evening at Felidia was a night out with a fellow craft beer enthusiast and we were going to make our way through some of the restaurant’s menu and the suggested craft beer pairings. That first dish served was Tutto Crudo. My first thought was how colorful the presentation. The ingredients were so fresh and the flavors were both subtle and complex. I particularly liked the added texture of crisp puffed rice and celery against the soft raw fish. To me, the beer recommendation here was spot on. The Calabaza Blanca by Jolly Pumpkin was crisp, light and had the tartness of lemon and white grapes over a mellow funk. What made the pairing was that the sourness of the ale rolled in and vanished so it would not interference with the next bite of this amazing dish.
Jolly Pumpkin, Calabaza Blanca
Calabaza Blanca is bottle-conditioned and brewed with orange peel and coriander with an alcohol by volume of just 4.8%. Aged in oak barrels.
I’m not a culinary expert other than I know what I like when I have it – and I liked the Tutto Crudo. As far as the Calabaza Blanca. I know enough to call it a 90 on its own and far better when paired with this dish.