French food + wine? Oui!
Pizza/BBQ wings + beer? Yeah, baby!
But, French haute cuisine + beer??
A few weeks ago, Singha Beer — produced since 1933 in Thailand, and the most popular beer in its native country — commissioned celebrity Chef Emmanuel Stroobant of Saint Pierre to create a special beer-pairing luncheon. Naturally, I was extremely curious to find out how this unorthodox pairing would work.
I’m not much of a beer drinker (nor wine drinker), but I found Singha Beer to be easy on the palate. This golden lager tastes rather light, yet has a nice body. On its own, it’s very refreshing, making it a great drink to swig on a hot day. I can imagine its crisp, bubbly flavors as a ideal pairing with seafood or spicy Thai food.
OMG, it’s Emmanuel Stroobant in the flesh! All the invited guests –mainstream media and food bloggers– fell into reverent silence when he came out to give a brief introduction. Don’t ask me what he said. My heart was pounding so loudly I couldn’t register a single word!
A native of Belgium and collaborator of Brussels Sprouts (they serve 120 types of beers!), Emmanuel Stroobant definitely knows his beers!
Without further ado, lunch is served!
Don’t underestimate these smallish shrimp. Each bite of crunchy, juicy shrimp was an explosion of intense umami-ness! And Thousand Island ice cream? What a brilliant idea!
Together with silky smoked salmon, sweet tomato, and creamy avocado mousse, this was indeed a seductive appetizer. The sparkling beer was a superb counterfoil against this luxurious starter. A very sublime pairing, reminds me of sexy foreplay. *cue: soft moan*
Look at that beautiful amber broth! It was another intensely flavored dish, packed full of briny flavor. The firm chicken cubes and crisp veggies strips provided sweetness and crunch.
Again, another excellent pairing, as the crisp, dry beer offset the saltiness of the consomme.
Here’s the piece de resistance! The highlight of this dish is Chef Stroobant’s unique creation — delicate ribbons of Singha beer jelly wrapped around tofu-like discs of scallop mousse. The mildly bitter jelly was an edgy kick against the sweet and smooth scallop. More than just a touch of tropical fragrance, the lemongrass topping was also a nod to Singha Beer’s Thai roots.
Plump, succulent, and sweet, the seared scallops were to die for! Even peasant ingredients like potato and carrot were exquisitely carved into discs and ribbons. This is an outstanding dish I’d gladly come back for.
The cheese course was a last-minute addition. Chef Stroobant told us that cheese-and-beer pairing is actually very common in Belgium, and selected these four cheeses for their complementary flavors with Singha beer.
I’m not a cheese person. But surprisingly, I really enjoyed the tasty Munster and tart goat cheese. And yes, cheese and beer do go well together!
This is the famous Grandma Stroobant’s flourless chocolate cake. Wickedly rich, smooth, and bittersweet, this is one recipe that’s sure to stay in the family for generations. Caramelized bananas (wished there were more!) and coconut ice cream (another tropical touch) rounded off this sweet ending.
The only pairing I found a bit weak was the last course. Perhaps I prefer a sweet dessert wine to go with dark chocolate, so the light, dry beer and intense chocolate combo didn’t quite work for me.
Following dessert, we were served coffee/tea and petit fours. It was a lovely way to wind down after such an impressive meal.
Well, this gastronomic experience has been a real eye-opener. I never imagined beer to be so versatile! And a premium beer definitely has a place in fine dining. Just like a good wine pairing, the right beer with the right dishes will bring out the best flavors of both.
The Singha Signature Dish is now available at Saint Pierre. It has to be ordered in advance, so remember to request for it when you call to make reservations.
Thank you very much, Singha Beer, for an afternoon of gastronomic indulgence and the chance to experience the soul of Singha Beer!
3 Magazine Road
#01-01 Central Mall
Tel: (65) 6438 0887