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Last week we hosted our first virtual event. What an evening it was too! Thanks to all who came along, we are chuffed to bits with the response and cannot wait to go again.
After NYE 2019 Beer VS Wine, ended up with beer pipping wine to the finish in the final round, wine wanted to come back this year with a bang. And that they did. Beer & wine drew overall, but when it came to the final deciding vote, wine took home the crown by ONE VOTE! A true thriller that will be remembered forever. 
Here is a little run down of our pairings from the evening if any one wants to reminisce or try them at home:
So the first pairing is the Coppa (capocollo) this is a cured cut of pork neck that is dusted in various spices including the dominant flavour of pepper and fennel. Carlo Pieri is the producer of this meat and the fennel pollen added to the herb blend is actually still picked by his own mother in her herb garden. So really small production but such love going into the meat.
To pair the wine we wet with the Ambitio Les Gaules De Bois which is a 50/50 blend of gamay and merlot. The Gamay from Romauld Cousy the vineyard owner and merlot from one of the godfathers or Bergerac wine, Vincent Alexis. The colour of this wine really utilises the colour imparted from the merlot and on the nose vanilla and strawberry notes balanced with a lovely tobacco undertone. The fat of the capocollo really responds well with those brighter woodier notes. The wine helps to pull out the nutmeg that with the meat on its own is overlooked by the more dominant flavours of the fennel and pepper. 
Beer wise we went with Deya - Steady Rolling Man, a beer well regarded as one of the best pale ales in the world. Brewed independently in Cheltenham, steady rolling man offers a very light and refreshing flavour, with huge hits of mango & pineapple from the hops within. This tropical fruit flavour and aroma, helps compliment the herbal qualities of the meat, whilst allowing the pepper from the meat to really come through at the end. 
Second pairing is the Finn. Extremely decadent and full of character. Triple-cream cheese, a classic of the French Parisian style.  Extra cream is added to the milk before making the Finn cheese, ensuring it has a rich, delectable flavour and smooth texture. Sold to us at 3 weeks old it has a phenomenal lemon zest oiliness that really coats the mouth.
So, to pair with wine we had to pick something light that cuts through that oily mouthfeel. And for me there is little finer than the 100% Cabernet franc of Octopus. This wine truely is skill personified and showcases how close to the edge of winemaking Pauline and Laurent have taken this. Cabernet franc picked early produces heaps of green capsicum pepper and can produce an astringent taste that can be seen as undesirable. Picked too ripe and it will taste like melted cherry jelly. So this for me showcases the younger side of this grape. Allowing you to access all these herbaceous and green pepper notes that really compliment this lemony interjection from the Finn.
With the beer we went with Duchess De Bourgougne. Which is Flanders red style that has been ages in red wine barrels. Named after the duchess Mary of burgundy it offers amazing balsamic notes refined by that red wine oak ageing that imparts vanilla and smokiness that perfectly washed that creamy lactic taste from the mouth and cuts the cheese so well. Truely a food pairing beer and with so many nuances. Be sure to pour this beer with maximum head to notice all these sweet maple notes.
Up third is the Manchego Curado. This is a fully cured manchego that has funk for days and plenty of refinement that can be tapped into. 12 month Cured Manchego La Tradicion has a very intense flavour with aromas of leather and cereal. Due to a full year curing, it is full body with a strong aroma. It has a dense paste with lots of small eyes (ojos). The texture is dry-ish but pliable. It has a complex savoury flavour with hints of caramel and a long, intense finish.
We have also included a small pot of membrillo (quice paste) and for me this is the perfect accompaniment with manchego. So with the beer you have the st. Feullien saison. With saison, it is a farmhouse ale that offers a lot of hoppy nuances. Saison has an unmistakable flavour full of rich nuances and a slight tang. Saison, the latest in a long line of top-quality St-Feuillien beers, is a “hoppy”, unfiltered bee that is so emblematic of the rich Belgian tradition. With the herbaciousness and funk coming from the cheese on this pairing the beer really stands up to the manchego and doesn’t allow itself to be bullied. It produces great honey and crispy acids that cut through this cheese nicely.
Wine wise you have the Pecharment blend of merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc produced by someone whose wine we have already tried earlier. Vincent alexis who produced the Ambitio in a collaboration effort is an 8th generation winemaker who in 2010 decided to make their own wines rather than sell their crop to other wine producers for their own respective blends. With Thai blend you see so much versatility of black currant that is absolutely perfect to give the cheese a fruity springboard to lift those more subtle herbaceous notes out.
With tasting the wine then the cheese you bring out more of the rosemary and saltiness out of the cheese that pairs to perfection with this inky purple alcoholic vimto. Aged in old oak with slow laceration of the fruit allows for more funk and natural yeasts to develop and impart their own flavour in this wine giving its funk on funk in this pairing.
Finally you have Lardo which is our favourite meat here at friends of ham. Lardo di Colonnata IGP is a charcuterie product obtained from the fat of the topside section of pork, which is then salted and cured in marble bowls. The marble of which used can be seen at friends of ham as it is the same marble our bar top is made of.
To pair this meat we went with the La mazel Viognier and with this wine there is little to say this is very much a wonder in a bottle. Great luster shimmer in the glass and a violent apple and pear drop nose that settles so well with the subtle saltiness of the lardo. Letting the lardo sit on your younger for a moment helps to coat the mouth in anticipation of this absolute lip smacked. This wine was another where the producer stopped selling his fruit to the local cooperative in the late 90’s and started producing his own wine. An ardeche Viognier with funk and power of a German reisling. Raw and natural it really helps to cut through that perfect setting produced by the lardo coating the mouth.
Beer wise the Plain Dark Beer by Newbarns brewery is the selection for this. Newbarns are a very young brewery that focus on doing the simple things right and with a big bold imperial stout all of the classic hoppy roast ones is there off the bat and the refinement of the sweetness stops this beer from being ‘noticably strong’ with the pairing with the lardo it created an amazing salted caramel flavour with the viscosity of the lardo and the supple sweetness of the beer. Honey blossom notes once the mouth is clear of both products lingers until that very Moorish craving of another swing and another bite brings it round again.
We hope you guys enjoyed!

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