What constitues a 'local' and living in a city centre, can you really have one? To me they often seem like something from another time, or at least another place. They are for small towns, villages and sleepy suburbs. They are for old men who know how to do friendly pub small talk, I barely get past stammering over my order, being annoyingly indecisive and occasionally scowling at being ID'ed.
I frequent a handful of places in Newcastle on a fairly regular basis, however I never have that sense of being a 'regular'. To be a regular at a pub, does that mean going, once, twice or even more than that a week? Do you always have to drink the same thing? And can you be a restaurant regular?
I thought this the other day when I realised we had dined at The Broad Chare 3 times in the same month. I don't even, contrary to what this blog would have you believe, eat out that much. I could say that it's geographical, what with being about 10 minutes from my flat, but to be a regular somewhere really comes down to one thing: all things considered, be that money, company, weather or mood, it is still the best place to eat.
It combines the two best things, meat and beer, which you will know are basically my two favourite things, ever. So when the lovely folk at Anarchy Brew Co invited me to a food and beer pairing evening at The Broad Chare I would have cancelled most things to attend. Even a date with Ryan Gosling. Even a date with Jon Snow (the tv presenter, not the guy from GOT).
Beer and food pairing is an idea that has been around a couple of years but interest has grown exponentially with the ever increasing interest in craft beers, particular British craft beers. Sometimes I like to have wine with my meal, but as with many things in life, I know literally nothing about it and can be impenetrable and indistinguishable (at least at my end of the price range).
Beer on the other hand, (which I still don't know very much about) provides a plentiful variety of flavours, types, ingredients, hops and brews. I'd tried a couple of the Anarchy Brew beers before so knew I would be in for some treats.
The beer side of things got off to an excellent start with a taster of the new anarchy brew Crime Scene, a hybrid American amber, before moving up for huge platters of scotch eggs, pork pies, crispy monkfish cheeks, potted mackerel and cauliflower fritters which were paired with Quiet Riot, a natural IPA. The salty wonderfulness of the bar snacks was offset by the bittery, fruitness of the beer. These little golden mouthfuls, each involving deep frying, batter, pork and breadcrumbs, are some of my favourite things, ever, ever, ever. They're not good for you, but in the best possible way.
As the evening progressed, the abv increased steadily in line with the amount of pork being consumed. Main course was a whole suckling pig. I'll say that again incase you missed it. a. whole. suckling. pig. Served with roast potatoes, some sort of sauerkraut (complete with more bacon), greens and apple sauce. Such succulent, rich meat; biting into the skin gave the same delight as cracking a creme brûlée.
It was paired with the very nice, award winning Anarchy Lager, which was a wonderful combo, the beer giving smooth refreshment to the porcine overload.
The final course was simple but brilliant, a large slab of Montgomery cheddar paired with Sublime Chaos. This was definitely the most cohesive of the evening pairings, being a very dark porter that could match up to the cheeses' maturity. It is made with Ethiopian coffee beans and perfectly takes the place of an end of evening espresso.
Whilst it wouldn't fit with every meal, incredible British food like this is made to be enjoyed with good beer. Each of the pairings was well thought out, complimentary but contrasting and added a whole other element to what would already have been a fantastic meal.
The Anarchy brewery beers are available in many pubs across the North East, and I imagine able to buy in a number of shops (if anyone knows where leave a comment below). There seems to be an ever increasing range of beers, with complex, creative flavours coming from their brewery in Morpeth and I'm excited to see what they come up with next.
You can find out more about Anarchy Brew Co at their website or find them on twitter.