Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year with friends, old and new

The drawback to working in hospitality at this end of the year is that you have to work while others play and, for the most part, that suits me just fine. I still get to do what I love which is to talk about beer a lot and help folk to choose nice beers that I think they’ll enjoy or that will match well with their meals and I get to pour beer for them, which I also love doing. And I can still catch up with friends and family during December sometime.

But New Year’s Eve is a bit different. Your mates can’t reschedule the party because you have to work – New Year’s Eve is New Year’s Eve. It’s a good night to catch up with friends and all their kids, to kick back and talk crap and to just sort of rule a line through the ledger of the year gone and start afresh, mentally. Plus, I believe beer is traditionally consumed at this event.

The restaurant was not only open for dinner on NYE but we were the ONLY game in town. And ours is a smallish ‘village’ kind of town, with a steadily growing population but a cosy community sort of feel to the shopping area. The other six or seven restaurants were all closed so we were pretty full and therefore pretty busy. No chance to sneak away and join the party early! The boss had decided that we would offer a full A La Carte menu rather than a set price special menu but that we would be serving dinner only, no midnight ringing-in, and all out to your parties or fireworks or whatever by 10.30. A good compromise.

So my old friends would have to wait. But there’s a funny thing about the restaurant business – it deals up nice surprises when you least expect it. Rather than regretting that I would not get to the party much before midnight, I found myself making new friends throughout the dining room. Here, seated before me, were a group of people who were out to have a good night, a nice feed and some pleasant company and wanted me and my crew to be a part of it. Young and old, couples and groups, families and old friends. A nice spirit in the room.

Some were after a chat about the history of the building while others were congratulating us on our TV showdown victory. The larger groups in the back room were after a fun night with plenty of liquid social lubrication while others were there to enjoy a few selections from our extensive beer list. And this is where the fun part comes in for me. Being asked to recommend a beer, either to jst drink, or to match with food. A challenge every time, but one that I relish. It is both a privilege and a responsibility when someone you’ve just met charges you with the onerous task of selecting a beer for them.

Rod and Barbara are the sort of people that I have gown to love meeting because they are willing to take a chance on a new beer, they are prepared for the fact that they may choose one that they don’t particularly like and, most importantly, they are a couple who both drink beer! Great! I was asked to select a couple of beers to match up with main course of fillet steak (pepper sauce and garlic cream) as well as a couple of beers to go with a cheese platter and pate. As I said, a new challenge around every corner. I have promised them that I would post a bit about Pale Ales and I am working on that at the moment but, for now, I can tell you that a Little Creatures (US style) Pale Ale works really well with blue cheese and that Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde strong Belgian ale partnered a treat with the pate.

I got away around 11 and arrived at my NYE party in time to see in the New Year with old friends, family and loved ones and it felt as though I’d been there all night. So, to all those I spent the night with, welcoming in the new and seeing out the old – to friends old and new – my every best wish for 09 and here’s to sampling more craft beers and meeting more new friends.

Prof. Pilsner

1 comment:

Unknown said...

So... which beer does go with a fillet steak and pepper sauce, cause I eat like 3 of these a week so will brew the beer !