Barbecue, beer, butchers, and brewers at Blenheim Forge. Since our last issue was published we have feasted so well that we just have to tell you about it. Sure, what I’m about to write describes an event that we may have organised ourselves, but we simply played match maker and sat back to enjoy the delicious consequences. We’ve always had recipes in Root + Bone but it felt like a lonely affair going to restaurants by ourselves to photograph a menu, so this is our new way of presenting them to you. We invited 25 guests including chefs, butchers, brewers and beer specialists from the Guinness brewery in Dublin along with food lovers, to indulge in an intimate pairing of barbecue and beers.
It will come as no surprise to you that chefs work long anti-social hours, so we planned this event on a Tuesday to suit them. Although many of our guests had eaten at each other’s restaurants – Brunswick House, Corner Room, Drapers Arms, Oldroyd and St John many of our guests had not enjoyed a sit-down meal together. This would be an opportunity for chefs to break bread and share ideas while having a beer, over some of the best barbecue known to man.
It was important to us that the setting for this meal be as significant as the gastronomic experience. The team at Blenheim Forge, Peckham, were kind enough to let us take over their fully functional knife forge for the day. Within these walls they have forged knives for Marco Pierre White and Francis Mallmann, to drop a few names, as well as being commissioned as knifemakers for the Tate. Raw steel is heated, hammered and crafted in this room. We placed a dining table, built a bar and set up a BBQ. Laid out before us were some of the finest hand crafted knives. Our guests were like kids at Christmas as they spoke with James, Richard and Jon, founders of the forge, about their craft. Sitting at the table you could soak up their passion for metalwork. Before dinner James talked us through the process of forging a Santoku chef knife and gave one to David to take down the brisket.
David Carter and Andy Cook designed a menu around the flavours experienced on our recent trip to The Guinness Open Gate Brewery, St. James’s Gate, Dublin. You can read about the trip in our previous issue (11) of Root + Bone. David’s SMOKESTAK barbecue is well known throughout London. It has been a mainstay of Street Feast since he started in 2013, available at Dalston Yard, Dinerama, Hawker House and Model Markets as well as serving smoky goodness at festivals over the summer. With a cult following, his brisket and pickled chilli takes up to 12 hours to prepare. I have inhaled it in moments on more than one occasion.
Cooking meat for a table of chefs and butchers has the potential to put a BBQ chef in the hot seat. But tonight was all about bringing people together. In the room we had food experts who love a good beer, and beer experts with a passion for food. Inside the forge it was great to see conversations between our guests taking centre stage. Ideas and collaborations were bouncing around the table. Padraig and Alan, our beer specialists from The Open Gate Brewery were able to take us through the beers they had brought with them from Ireland. Most people are familiar with Guinness Draught, but the sour beer we would be trying later in the evening had never been tasted outside of the brewery walls.
When pairing beers from the Guinness portfolio with the SMOKESTAK menu, brewer Aisling Ryan and food specialist Alan Maxwell both looked to complement, cut and contrast against the flavours present in the food. The malty, grainy Golden Ale that works well with breads and smoked foods was first. This was matched with David’s starter of sourdough and smoked butter, crispy beef shin with anchovy mayo and smoked girolles on beef dripping toast. Next Guinness Draught with its roast character made it a natural complement for beef and was presented with the main event – beef brisket with pickled red chilli and thick cut pork ribs with cucumber. David brought the whole brisket to the table and took it apart with his new Blenheim Forge knife. The lighter bodied Dublin Porter was paired with cured hot smoked salmon and horseradish, grilled baby gem lettuce and parmesan. The full bodied Foreign Extra Stout which offsets lighter vegetable and herb flavours was served with smoked cauliflower and cheese, baby carrots with honey, alongside coal roasted sweet potato and smoked ricotta and bacon.
Last year Guinness released Hop House 13, which is a lager and is available in more and more bars in London. It works well as a palate cleanser after heavy mains before dessert, thanks to its citrus and grapefruit notes from the American hops in the beer. For those that saved room for dessert, David made a damson plum crumble after being inspired by Aisling’s small batch experimental plum sour beer. Aisling was on hand to tell us how she came up with the recipe for the beer and talked us through sour beers, which I’m appreciating more and more these days. This special brew was a real natural companion for the fruity dessert.
A blade is something special, often forming a bond between a chef and his knife over a period of years. Thank you David Carter for the amazing feast, we hope that your Blenheim Forge knife will be a part of your arsenal for years to come. Many thanks to Lucy Franks and her team for making everything look superb on the night and Dalston Cola for the hand crafted soft drinks. Follow us on Instagram @rootandbone for more on this collaboration with @Guinness and @SmokestakUK.
The Guinness Open Gate Brewery
David’s first bricks and mortar restaurant is now open near Brick Lane in London. Come hungry. SMOKESTAK 35 Sclater St E1 6LB