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Mission Europe: Surprise Pairings – Beers, Fruits & Flowers

The class description included an invitation to try beer jelly and rose ketchup.  Always up for an unusual experience, I booked the workshop.  It proved to be as unusual as the description, bordering on eclectic.  A woman with tousled hair sat in the middle of the panel and asked us all to shake a little jar filled with what seemed to be muddy water and a rock.  As we shook the jar, she explained she wanted us to begin the workshop with an idea of where she lived and what her earth was like.  After a few vigorous shakes, we opened the jar and it in fact smelled like a home garden after a rainfall.

As I observed my workshop desk I noticed what seemed to be an unmarked toothpaste tube and a tree branch.  The panel discussed common Slow Food topics including using food as a communication tool and respecting the time it takes to do anything from growing a vegetable to cooking it.  The man with curly hair looked much like a wayward college professor and explained to the audience his passion for brewing artisan beers.  The other gentleman offered playful commentary and descriptive introductions.

The beer jelly described in the catalog turned out to be a puree of hops.  I found it to be interesting, not necessarily unappealing, just different.  The tube contained rose ketchup the woman had concocted from wild rose buds, which were also displayed on my workshop desk.  After sampling several beers of a very high percentage of alcohol (13.8%), at least high for a beer, all that remained was the tree branch.  The green limb served as a handle for a juniper resin lollipop that was fragrant, piney in flavor and a bit sweet.  On that note, an unusual recipe with a unique presentation closed a very interesting workshop.

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