Beer (!) and food matched at Quilon, London

Beer and pizza. That was about the extent of my beer and food matching horizons. That is until I attended a “Girls Night” beer and food matching dinner put on by Rupert Ponsonby, of R&R Teamwork, at the White Horse in Parsons Green. The aim of the evening was to show that beer was more then just lager and could be just as good a partner with food as wine. We had a very interesting and delicious variety of ales and beers from all over the world. Much as when wine is matched correctly with food, beer could surprisingly perform the same function, a tasty food and drink combination. We (me and my flatmate Giordana) had enjoyed the beer and food matching evening so much that Rupert suggested we try the 5-course beer matching meal at Quilon where Rupert had worked with Executive Chef Sriram Vishwanathan Aylur to pair each dish with Sriram’s expertly paired dishes. I have to admit, as much as I think that wine is the perfect accompaniment to food, with Indian food, beer always seems to be the best beverage. I dragged Giordi along with me, according to her, Italians prefer beer to wine when dining. I don’t know about that…but anyway, we showed up for Sunday lunch one early Spring day at Quilon. The chef of Quilon, Sriram Aylur is a big fan of beer and food matching and has paired his south-west Indian coastal cuisine with a variety of beers and ales from all over the world. Coastal cuisine, I’m thinking lots of fish and the menu did consist mostly of fish and seafood. Starters were poppadoms, love them, paired with an Alsatian grand cru lager, the Kasteel Cru rose made from champagne yeasts with added elderflower juice. Nice bubbles, it was quite soft and refined, hard to believe we were drinking lager. A soft, pale, red colour, full of flavour, delicious and was tasty with the coconut chutney and poppadoms. Next we moved onto an American wheat...

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Courtyard 51 is now grillin’ Michelin stars

One of the things I love about London is discovering all the little hidden away places that are tucked down the many little alleyways and mews amongst the busy streets of the city.You just never know what hidden gem you’re going to run across, a carefully manicured garden, a centuries old pub or even a lovely Italianate courtyard. I was invited to visit one such place at Courtyard 51, which comes complete with Victorian fountain and reputedly the longest frieze in the world. It depicts all of Shakespear’s plays and links all 8 buildings that make up the courtyard of St. James Court just off Buckingham Gate in Belgravia. Courtyard 51 at Buckingham Gate is now launching their second season of alfresco dining complete with 4 evenings of opera to enjoy whilst dining on their veranda overlooking the courtyard. The entire area will be converted into an open air opera house. I went along to try the South Indian Coastal inspired cuisine by Michelin starred chef, Siriam Ayur, that they will be serving on their opera evenings and that is always available at the adjacent Quilon restaurant. Since it was not exactly a balmy summer’s eve, the clouds were out in force and there was a bit of a stiff breeze, our dinner was moved indoors, to the floor of Quilon. The food, however, was delicious. Siriam explained that a specially modified grill is used to cook the food perfectly. As an example, the freshwater char grilled prawns were soft and succulent, expertly grilled  with none of the hard spongy quality that comes from being frozen and then thawed out. Some other examples we tried from the grill included Mapla Chicken, Curry leaf and lentil crushed fish and cottage cheese and mixed veg grill. A very tasty dahl and assortment of rices were served along with some curried potato and cauliflower. Despite the fact that it was an Indian themed meal, the food was very light and tasty, not too spicy but with a...

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