FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK :: Passover Special (?) – FISH DIP and a Decent Belgian White

by Harvey Gold on March 26, 2013

imagesI know, I know. How can YourBeerNetwork do a Passover Special, without anything Kosher or a nod to He’Brew? OK, there’s your nod. Now hear me out!
As a Jewish man of Eastern European ancestry, smoked whitefish, be it in the form of super expensive smoked Sable, or the fabulous spread of the Gods usually called either Smoked Whitefish salad or spread, is in my DNA. Murray’s, The Stage, Lou & Hi’s, Corky & Lenny’s, the old Wolfie’s, The Pumpernick, all over…

But here’s the rub (no pun intended… REALLY!). We found a place in Okeechobee, Florida, where we are spending the Passover holiday: Backyard BBQ – Put some SOUTH in your Mouth. Smoked pork, chicken wings, brisket, the BEST smoked Prime Rib, good slaw, excellent sauce (always on the side), string beans cooked with fatback or hamhocks (collards is more my speed, but my wife and father-in-law love ‘em), and fried okra lead the parade… or at least our parade.

imagesOne day a couple weeks ago, out on errands, we dropped in for a late lunch. What we had was fine, Dolli smoked brisket, me, sliced smoked pork. It was NOT smoked Prime Rib, but… then I spied it…

Appetizers:

“Smoked Fish Dip.”

No claim to be a salad, nor a spread, nor even “white,” served with club and saltine crackers. Our server gave me a taste and I found it to be a little fishy, but untriguing, the same, if left on the tongue, addictive smokey, salty, gnawing, “Bet you can’t eat just one” brain fever all the others before it had engendered. So I ordered a portion to go.

photoMaybe because they use all sorts of fish they catch, you might get a pocket fishier than others, but I’m learning that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They send it home, covered in jalapenos, in a styrofoam take away container. This is the style of this dip, I’ve learned, many recipes including hot sauce, as served along the coast of Florida. I love jalapenos, but not with my Jew-Food, so I brushed them aside and have had this delicacy on garlic texas toast and English Muffins, always with some sliced or diced sweet onion (as pictured). Scooped out of the container, the whole mound sitting in settled oil with little yellow stains from the peppers, this is the BEST smoked fish salad of any nature I’ve ever had.

Product - Roscoe’s Hop House Belgian WhiteThe jalapenos soaked in, presenting no notable flavor to this well smoked fish, but adding a zip to every bite. What distinguished this meal as lunch rather than breakfast, was the addition of chips to the plate, and as opposed to black coffee, a very nice, drinkable Belgian White (Wheat Ale) from Roscoe’s Hop House. We’ve talked about Roscoe’s before, some of it brewed up in Rochester, NY, some elsewhere, but while I’m not sure what merited a Silver Medal “Highly Recommended” – BTI,  at the World Beer Championship in 2012, it is a good replacement to your run of the mill American sessioners, offering a little spice, a bit more body, and overall, a touch more more substantial beer at a 5.4% ABV.

But in this context, where I’m not looking to mess with the heavenly flavor of this distinctively smokey, sweet delicacy, it worked just fine as did, interestingly, what may be the exact same Belgian White from Barrel Trolley, ALSO brewed up in Rochester by World Brewing, ALSO partially owned and thus exclusively distributed (at least in Florida) by ABC Stores. Just a little trivia.

imagesBut more than just trivia, I have to say the Barrel Trolley IPA I tried was very good. Mostly standard issue in terms of nose and initial flavor, it was, delightfully, a little English, with a nicer than average toffee malt presence in the middle. Certainly more to my liking at this time than another I tried, Monkey Fist from Shipyard. Big (6.9% ABV) and very hopped up, there was no subtlety, no flavor curve, just hops and bitter, a reminder of my brewmaster friend’s assertion that “There are those who believe they can cover a lot of mistakes by throwing enough hops at a beer.” The only mistake I detected, however, was brewing a one note beer. There are too many interesting and delicious big hopped ales out there to warrant picking this one up again, I’m sorry to say.

One Twizzler and one Oreo later, and lunch… is over. Not a Seder, but when it came to my new pal, Fish Dip, it was almost as much of a religious experience. Trust me!!

 

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