If you're lucky enough to be growing your own, you know that tomato season is almost over. For this reason you should get yourself to Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks for the last few weeks of their seasonal tomato salad. With a beer uncanny in its pairing power, this is the perfect last hurrah for summer produce.
Slices of locally-sourced tomato are mortared together with goat cheese into a tower with a nest of herbs perched on top. Truffle vinaigrette adds earthy robustness and the char on grilled bread reminds you that you're in a house of barbecue. Saison du Buff is brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, which might appeal to a certain pair of folk singers, but is unusual beer to the rest of us.
This is a true example of beer and food improving each other. A beer that is intensely herbaceous and overbearing on its own is teased out by sweet tomato. Creamy goat cheese is lightened by a dry, well-carbonated swig. The pairing is so natural you can't help but assume the brewers were under the influence of late summer tomatoes when they came up with the recipe.
After the salad you would be remiss not to anchor your meal with a few hickory-smoked pork ribs with chipotle glaze. Pair with Duchesse de Bourgogne and the beer will actually become drinkable.
Heirloom tomato salad at Boneyard Bistro. Red, green, yellow tomatoes with goat cheese, herb salad, and truffle-sherry vinaigrette.
Saison du Buff 7.7% abv, Saison/ Farmhouse ale from collaboration between Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido,) Dogfish Head (Delaware,) Victory Brewing (Pennsylvania.)
Flavor equality. The Saison is brewed with herbs and the salad features a melange of herbs; both complement the bright sweetness of tomato. The mouthfeel of food and beer work off each other: The juicy tomato and the creamy goat cheese are complemented by the dry, effervescent beer.
Why It Works:
Boneyard Bistro Bar Manager Rory Snipes recommends the pairing, "it works as like for like: the subtle tang in the beer mimics the goat cheese in the salad. For the same reasons that an herb salad works with the tomatoes, an herbal beer makes perfect sense. Though light enough in flavor for the tomato to stand out, the beer is strong enough as to not be overwhelmed by the vinaigrette."
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"The Saxo [strong pale ale, 8% abv.] from Brasserie Caracole, works well with the salad," says Snipes. "Rather than employing the herbal qualities in the beer to compliment it, Saxo's minty/ herbal hop profile is drawn out by the fresh herbs which the salad is garnished with -- maintaining a bright freshness in contrast to the richness of the truffle sherry vinaigrette."
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Erika Bolden writes of her compulsive beer and food habit at The Weblog and @Erikabolden.