We are going to Ireland for the last week of January! We have been trying to plan a trip for months, and my husband finally got some time off. That means I will be looking for guest posts, so please email me if you would be interested.
When your husband hails from Ireland like mine does, there’s a chance you have tasted plenty of Guinness, Smithwicks, and Harp in your life. And since I spent seven months in Ireland before I met my husband, I am pretty familiar with the country’s national pastimes, pints included.
One thing that I never really thought of, however, was pairing Guinness with food. Other than the obvious and beloved Guinness and oyster combination, we usually enjoy our pints in a pub toe-tapping to some music, preferably sitting by a roaring fire somewhere in the West of Ireland. Or in Boston, whichever is easiest
Last night, I learned a little more about food and beer pairing at the Landsdowne Pub’s seasonal beer dinner, featuring Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks. I met Megan at Park Street Station so that we could make our way over to Landsdowne Pub together. There we met Daisy and her boyfriend, Jen and her husband, and my own husband, then kicked off the evening with glasses of Guinness at the bar.
These little glasses served at the beer were adorable and were the same sized pours we received throughout the evening. In Ireland, at least when I studied abroad, these were the size of a lady’s drink, unless of course you are me or anyone who is friends with me Older men actually did seem shocked when we ordered full pints in pubs, but that didn’t stop us.
The Landsdowne Pub doesn’t look a thing like an Irish pub from the outside which is unfortunate because it is adorable inside. It is a very large space with all sorts of Irish signage and memorabilia like the above Guinness gate, reminiscent of the one at the Guinness brewery, St. James’s Gate, in Dublin. The sign below is Irish for “beer and whiskey”. From the time we arrived until about halfway through dinner, the pub played fun Irish music just loudly enough to hear it, but not too loud to be intrusive.
Once we were all seated, we got started on the beer pairing goodness. A representative from Guinness introduced each course.
The evening’s seasonally appropriate menu included the following:
Oven Roasted Duxbury Oysters with Candied Fennel, served with Guinness
Roasted Winter Squash, Native Blue Cheese, Spiced Walnuts, served with Harp
Braised Veal Breast, Herb Spaetzle, Glazed Turnips, and Local Greens, served with Smithwicks
The briny oysters, topped with buttery bread crumbs and paired with Guinness were by far my favorite part of the evening, I could have eaten dozens of these. As the Guinness rep said, Guinness and oysters are a match made in heaven. Agreed.
The roasted winter squash with local blue cheese, served with Harp, was just as sublime. I am not crazy about Harp as I prefer ales to lagers, but it’s crsip, almost citrusy flavors did go well with the sweet, earthy squash and the tangy blue cheese.
The main course was veal which I don’t eat, but it came with flavorful turnips, braising greens, and buttery spaetzle, little noodles that I am determined to recreate this week. I passed the veal off to the husband and enjoyed my veggie and spaetzle feast with a glass of Smithwicks. A reddish brown color, Smithwicks has some delicious caramel flavors that I loved with the gravy on the entrée plate. Smithwicks was my beer of choice when I studied abroad, and ten years later (!!!!!) I still enjoy it.
The final and probably least favorite course for us all was the Guinness and butterscotch ice cream float. Once I stirred it all together, the flavors worked, but eating the ice cream separately and drinking the Guinness created too much of a contrast; the sweet ice cream made the Guinness seem too bitter.
Overall, I was very pleased with the meal and the pairings, and the price, just $40, was right for everything we received. The atmosphere was relaxing, and I could see us returning while Fenway Park is not in order for a pint or two. The only downside to the Landsdowne Pub is its location off of Kenmore Square which is a little far out for a Dorchester gal like myself. Still, we love going to Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar, and this isn’t too much further.
I will be curious to see the menu for the next seasonal beer dinner.
Are you a fan of Guinness, or do you think it is too bitter? Did you ever study abroad?
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