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Perfect Picnic

Submitted by on March 31, 2009 – 8:00 PMNo Comment
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There is nothing better than a springtime picnic, relaxing in the park with some finger foods and of course, a nice cold beer. Beer picnic anyone? In celebration of spring, I’m toasting to a recent Sunday Funday beer picnic I undertook. The quest: To find the perfect beer match.

When beer picnicking, choose simple foods that don’t require toting tons of bug-attracting ingredients. Pitas are a great alternative to sandwiches and a simple spin on a traditional gyro can burst with flavor when paired with the perfect beer. Stick to grilled chicken as the lamb preparation is a little time-consuming to make. Whole wheat pitas are of course the healthier alternative, but more importantly the sweetness of the whole wheat will pair better with the bitterness of the yogurt sauce and feta cheese. For a slightly tweeked traditional Greek Pita, you will need the following: Pitas, grilled chicken (sliced), feta cheese and lemon pepper yogurt sauce, which can be made up to a day in advance. Pack ingredients individually and assemble to your liking. Accessorize this picnic with dried fruit and crudités with traditional or garlic hummus.

Lemon Pepper Yogurt Sauce

2 (7-ounce) containers plain yogurt
4 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Zest of 2 lemons (fine)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped (optional)

Mix above ingredients together and refrigerate in a plastic air-sealed container until picnic time.

What to drink? BEER! For this specific beer picnic, I recommend a heavier Bavarian wheat beer (doppelweizen). Contrary to a lager, the wheat beer is low in hop and aroma so as not to overwhelm the bitterness of the yogurt sauce. If you are skipping the cheese all together, the wheat beer is a must. If you aim to accentuate the cheese flavors, you may choose a sweet stout, also known as milk stouts, whose unfermented lactose sugars will bring out the flavor of the cheese but not overwhelm the palate with bitterness. “Chevre” cheeses like feta, goat cheese and Roquefort are best paired with sweeter stouts and brown ales with medium bitterness such as New Castle Brown Ale or the traditional English MANNS Brown Ale.

Sip. Bite. Repeat. And Enjoy.