Two things you need to know:

1. I tried; and
2. I don’t bake.

In that order, mind you – not, “I don’t bake, but, for you, dear readers, in the interest of National Cherry Dessert Day, I mightily tried.”

Let me clarify.

I love these 365 Foods guest blogs. The ladies are always so good to me, giving me soft days to suit my limited culinary skills.  For example, they’ll “require” me to  head over to a fancy bar to drink retro cocktails.  Or listen to the violin while eating ice cream.  Or put a bunch of chocolate in a pot, a handful of friends around a table and then throw chopped fruit into the chocolate pot, now melted. (The chocolate, not the pot.)

You see, the 365 ladies are rather charitable to their token male.

So, when they continued that trend, giving me National American Beer week to round out the month of May, suggesting I run around and sample however many of our southern cousins’ drafts as I saw fit, I thought, “Hold up, May 26th is also National Blueberry Cheesecake Day and National Cherry Desserts Day – I’m gonna step it up.  Show these gals I’m worth more than my Wallbanger.”

But there were problems:

1. I don’t eat dessert;
2. No one in my house eats dessert;
3. The people in my house (read: my darling bride) might hurt me if I concocted a dessert in our house (we’re on a bit of a dietary improvement kick); and, in any event…
4. See Note 2, above.

Back to beer?

Nay!

Ms. Billo to the rescue!  With a little help from her friends, she introduced me to the magic that is Cherries Jubilee:  Cherries.  Booze.  Fire.  No oven.

Ha!  What could be more perfectly male?!  And….and….in a cunning display of divergent thinking, I realized I could make said singed delights and then … wait for it … put them on top of a breakfast of ancient grains.  My uber-healthy wife wouldn’t even notice the end-runned dessert on her plate (apart from the slight taste of brandy, perhaps – meh).

Problem 5: Could I find a frickin’ cherry, fresh, frozen or otherwise, in this town in May??  Hardly.  Every other berry under the (southern hemisphere) sun, but no cherries.  (No, sorry, I wasn’t going to stoop to the “cherry pie filling” option – I have my standards…and my insulin levels to think of.)

So, I tried.

And so, yes, here we are, back at beer.

But wait, another stroke of back-against-the-wall-brilliance (if I may)!

CherryBeer.

Most of my trips to Vancouver will at some point or another find me sidled up to the bar at Stella’s Bierstro, where I’d been introduced by my more cultured friends to the beauty of Flemish beers: Lambics, Gueuzes and .. wait for it…yes, Krieks – a Lambic beer refermented in the presence of sour cherries.

Perfection!

Now, all I needed was an American version.

Ha.

“American beer.”  It’s an oxymoron, no?  At least if you infer a parenthetical (quality) at the front end?  Kinda like Indian Automobiles.  Leave the latter to the Germans; the the beer the Belgians.

But, thematic of this personal national day of eating and drinking, I tried.  Scoured shelves in various liquor stores.  Found numerous authentic Belgians.  Got introduced to a number of interesting-sounding American micro-brews for future reference (read: consumption – if nothing, I’m an open mind: I’m willing to be swayed from my derisive take on American hops culture, Budweiser notwithstanding).

And then <queue angels> I found it.

Sorta.

Near the back of the cooler in an off-sales store, hiding behind his rather continental-looking labelling, was Jack D’Or, from the Pretty Things beer and ale project, of Cambridge, Massachusetts.  According to his label, Jack is “an American take on the Belgian saison style.”  Now, saisons are not lambics, and Jack isn’t at all the fruity sort, but I figured this was the best I was going to do, so I tucked him under my arm and took him home.

Sadly, based on the preferences of my palate, Jack will not be making a return trip to my abode.  I commend his attempts at Continentality, but apparently there’s something antithetical to alchemy about putting a Euro in a Yank bottle – at least for me.  He came out tasting somewhat akin to a hefferveisen, which was pleasant at first, but Jackie needs to work on finishing what he starts.  On the palate he’s somewhat creamier than I’d like, packing plenty of sugar, but without the acidity of a lambic for balance.  Similarly, on the finish, the pleasant sourness of Belgian varieties was there, but in a blunter (American?) fashion, leaving me, rather than appreciative of a lingering complexity, simply…sour.

So Jack won’t be back, but I do applaud what he represents. Culinarily, our horizons are expanding. In a globalized word where borders and barriers are dissolving, one of the welcome byproducts is the increasing variety of foods available at your local bistro, at your grocer, and at table.  This is, to a certain extent, one of the pleasures of 365 Foods.  And this extends to the beverages accompanying our more-varied food options.  To be clear, this isn’t about importing foreign vegetables from the tropics or artisanal hops from Belgium.  Pretty Things sources their ingredients locally, they simply infuse their localism with a taste of the global.  And, even if for me this particular American beer is a miss, it’s refreshing to see that American (and Canadian) microbreweries are experimenting, expanding their offerings, and in so doing expanding our gastronomic horizons.

They’re trying.

And we all, ultimately, come out the better for it when we try when it comes to our food and drink.

~Rumon

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