Over the years we’ve tried a few Hopped American Beers in an Belgian style and even a few Belgian Beers inspired by American Ales. I believe this is the first hopped French Saison we’ve run across, though the inspiration is more English than American.

It appears to be imported into the US by Shelton Brothers, who have a page about it on their website, Thiriez EXTRA:

This particular beer is an interesting joint effort with an English brewery. It uses one hop varietal, a rather unusual hop grown in Kent called ‘Bramling Cross.’ The malt is from 2-row spring barley grown in France. (The English brewer is brewing to the same recipe, with the same ingredients, for sale in the U.K., under the French name.) The result has certain characteristics of an English bitter: it’s not too strong, very dry, and eminently drinkable.

And the brewery Thiriez itself has this to say about the beer:

Initialement nommée “les Frères de la Bière”, elle est le fruit d’un partenariat avec un brasseur anglais, John Davidson de la Swale Brewery, dans le cadre d’un projet Interreg.
Blonde, légère en alcool, un houblon aromatique du Kent, utilisé très généreusement lui confère son caractère unique..

“Dès l’attaque, l’amertume est là, puissante, enrobante,bien associée au malt. Structure moelleuse, bien maltée et sans lourdeur. Du houblon à l’état nature envahit le palais. Les amateurs vont en raffoler”

Bière Magazine mars-avril 2006

Exportée au USA sous le nom de Thiriez EXTRA

Quite a head on that one! I apologize to the beer geeks in the audience. Well the gentlemen at the shop did warn me to have a glass ready when I opened the bottle. Definitely one of those which would need to be poured very, very carefully to get the appropriate 3/4 inch head.

In any case, this is another selection from Healthy Spirits, I was in the mood for a Saison last Friday afternoon, and this was their recommendation. To quote, “My favorite Saison nobody is buying.” I totally agree with just about everything the Shelton Bros website has to say about this beer, pleasant, interesting character, not too strong. The sort of beer, in an ideal world, you could drink all afternoon while watching the grass grow or weeding the garden in France or Belgium.

Oven braised Steelhead filet baked on top of lemon slices, with fresh tarragon.

Mrs. Flannestad purchased a large amount of Blueberries at the Alemany Farmers’ Market, with the hopes of making a Clafoutis. We found a recipe for Blueberry and Nectarine Clafoutis on epicurious, and she made it with peaches. Delicious.

Monty is (n)ever patient.

Merry Edwards 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

The wine is a mirror, clearly reflecting a pure fruit focus, characteristic of this vintage. Luminescent ruby in color, its attractive aroma is perfumed with a mouthwatering medley of cola, red raspberries, plums and blueberries. Exotic Indian spices, a touch of earth and vanilla bean add complex accents. This elegant Pinot shows an invitingly rich entry. The refined mid-palate is soft, round and supple followed by a finish that offers balanced, restrained tannins. Appealing now, this wine will surprise you with its development – the cool area parentage ensures subtle integration of flavors with increased depth and body over time.

An all right wine. Definitely fruit forward. It was just too big for the Steelhead prepration I had decided on. Rose or a hearty white might have been more appropriate.

Red Quinoa Pilaf with Carrots, Spring Onions, and Pine Nuts. Tomatero Farms Lacinto Kale with caramelized onions. I had an idea with the kale to cut the kale stems and caramelize them with the onions. I always like roasted brassicas, and this turned out similar and quite delicious.

Saturday Night Dinner March 4, 2011

I’ve covered Julia Child’s Salmon with Aromatic Vegetables before, this time we used Steelhead Trout from Avedano’s Holly Park Market instead of Salmon. Hard to find Wild caught Salmon these days, Steelhead is our second choice, along with Arctic Char. Another good use for those hard to finish bottles of Dry Vermouth, by the way.

Fish with Aromatic Vegetables

Method: Pre-heat an oven to 300 F. Finely chop a combination of equal parts onion, celery, and carrot. Heat a Saute pan, add butter and vegetables. Saute until the vegetables are tender. Add dried or fresh tarragon and thyme. Deglaze pan with a generous amount of Dry Vermouth. Butter a roasting pan approximately the size of your fish fillet. Place the fillet skin side down in the pan, salt, pepper, and some cubes of butter. Pour vegetables on top of fish. Add more dry vermouth to come up half way up the side of the fillet. Cover with buttered parchment paper or lid and place in oven. Bake until fillets are just cooked through. Remove fillets from liquid to warm plate. Pour liquid into sauce pan and reduce until syrupy. Optionally, mount the sauce with butter. Pour over filets and serve.

To be honest, I think this would be an awesome sous vide preparation.

More interesting, though were the side dishes, generally riffs on flavors I associate with Southern Italy.

Pan roasted Cauliflower braised in cx stock with red chile, garlic, herbs, anchovy paste, olives, and sherry vinegar.

METHOD: Cut up a head of Cauliflower into “florets”, heat a saute pan. Add some olive oil and then Cauliflower. Let “pan roast” over high heat until you get some nice color. Add minced garlic, crushed red chile, fine chopped herbs, an anchovy filet, and some chopped Green Olives. Give a shake or two. Pour in some chicken (or vegetable) stock and cook until the Cauliflower is tender. Finish with a splash of sherry vinegar to brighten the flavors.

I’ve been rediscovering Cauliflower lately and enjoying the flavors. This was one of the more interesting preparations I’ve done recently.

Israeli Cous Co us with pine nuts, raisins, lemon zest, herbs, and cinnamon broth.

METHOD: Heat a pint or so of chicken stock until warm with a cinnamon stick. Heat a deep saute pan. Add some olive oil and a cup of israeli cous cous. Add some pine nuts, raisins, and sliced green onions. Saute briefly, then add chicken stock by the cupful. continue to add stock as it is absorbed until the cous cous is tender and cooked through. Finish with herbs and the Zest of one lemon.

I really like Israeli Cous Cous, you often cook it rather like risotto. A bit more fun than the pilaf-like preparations for regular Cous Cous.

Both of these side dishes could be described as “profoundly unfashionable” in flavor and style, nearly Medieval with their emphasis on strong flavors, herbs, and spiced. I really liked them in combination with the milder fish preparation.

Serve with a nice, light red wine, like this Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir from Wild Hog Vineyards.