1 Aug 2011

Oakham Ales Bishops Farewell and Anna Mae’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese

The beer

Let me just get some boring pedantry out of the way: unless there’s some religious event I’m unaware of (The Bidding of Farewell to the Bishops?) shouldn’t there be a possessive apostrophe in ‘Bishops’?

Okay, breathe...relax...onto the beer.

I doubt that the best way to drink Oakham Ales Bishops Farewell is poured from a cask that has only a picnic blanket to shield it from the beating sun, served in a plastic cup, but no matter – it’s got enough going for it to deal with the conditions.

Pure gold with a fine white head, it’s a generously-hopped ale that makes a lot of sense to be drinking in July in England, delivering just the right balance of meadow, grass-like bitterness and subtle summer fruit pudding flavours.

The southern street food

This is the story of Anna and Tony, who quit their office jobs and went off on a jolly – sorry, I mean ‘research mission’ – to the US, eating their way from LA to Texas.

Inspired by the flavours they discovered, they founded Anna Mae’s Southern Street Food when they got back to London.

They serve up a focused range of American classics, the likes of which are seriously under-represented in London – and in the rest of the UK I imagine.

Check out Anna Mae’s facebook page to see where they’ll be popping-up next.

The match

I’m at the Southbank Centre for Vintage at Southbank.

There’s a real buzz around all the food stalls, but the queue at Anna Mae’s is the longest.

Today they’re concentrating completely on their take on mac ‘n’ cheese, with a few mouth-watering variations to choose from.

I’d always thought macaroni cheese was an exclusively British concern, but a quick bit of internet research suggests otherwise.

I opt for mac ‘n’ cheese topped with hot dog sausage, chives and BBQ sauce.*

And it’s exquisite.

Gooey, stringy, Monterey Jack cheese-savouriness collides in a perfect explosion of flavours with the sweetness of the BBQ sauce.

Perfectly-cooked pasta provides a carbohydrate counterpoint to the meatiness of the sausage. The chives give it a hint of spice bite that stops the dish feeling too heavy.

I would like a beer to go with this.

I look around in desperation, expecting there to be a wasteland of options. However, unexpectedly, I see three casks lined up almost directly behind me.

Closer inspection reveals names I’m familiar with, one of them being Oakham, so I purchase a pint of Bishops Farewell.

And I’m glad I do, because this premium, hoppy golden ale simultaneously cuts through and augments the wholesome flavours on show in the mac ‘n’ cheese.

Southern street food and English ale work surprisingly well together.

My mind wanders to the other beers I’d like to match Anna Mae’s food with and I’m excited by the range of possibilities.

Here’s hoping they get a licence.

* This combination had a clever name, but it completely escapes me. Hey, I was drinking at lunchtime, I’m excused.

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