English Pub - The Prince Bonaparte
Nelson @ Notting Hill: Chris and Anne took us to a British pub oddly named The Prince Bonaparte. Just like cheese, we in North America are paranoid about food safety and kill our beer before consuming it. In England? The beer is alive!
Specifically, there is a type of beer there called "real ale" that is top fermented cask beer matured at the pub instead of the brewery. These "cask conditioned" beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and lack artificial carbonation. At the pub they are usually hand pumped from the cask to the glass. A completely different approach than how we do it here in North America.
On the right I have ordered the Dazed and Confused (4.6%) from Triple FFF brewery. Normally I don't like ales that much and especially avoid red ales that are hoppy. This one was different. Surprisingly it wasn't too bitter despite it being classified as a "premium bitter" I found this to be true throughout my visit as I expected extreme bitterness but I never tasted anything that was as bitter as some of the ales I've had in Toronto.
The dazed and confused is described on their website as a "pale amber ale, fruit gums aroma, on the palate a complex bittersweet mixture of malt, hops and bitter fruit, satisfying and full bodied, well balanced with a log, hoppy flavour." Nope, didn't get all that, but this one stood out for me as I was sampling all the other ones on tap (cask) here. I enjoyed drinking this immensely.
Another big difference I noticed was that the beer was not served ice cold. It felt like it was at room temperature, but actually was probably between 10-15 degrees, which is the typical storage temperature of the cask in the pub. Normally, the taste of the beer degrades as it gets warmer, but these ales were perfect at this "warmer" temperature. Impressive.
You can see that there isn't much of a head from my beer and this is because the carbonation is natural and from the yeast directly. Kitty really liked this feature because it allowed her to drink the beer faster and not feel as bloated afterwards. She made this discovery after sipping my beer as she had ordered a white beer (on the left).
Their approach to beer is so different to ours in North America. No wonder so much of their culture revolves around drinking - they are drinking quality.
Onto the food. They had a venison option on the menu and since I was in Britain I tried it. This is a haunch of venison & Bonaparte's own ale pie, colcannon & buttered greens (£17). It wasn't very gamey and had a thick rich sauce inside. Colcannon is an Irish dish of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. I enjoyed the meal, but still thought the first meat pie was better.
Kitty had the mustard glazed Hampshire pork chop, braised red cabbage, sage and onion mash (£16). Immediately the taste of the pork stood out. The pork tasted incredible and was packed with flavour. A lot of the time here in North America, the pork can be really plain and really lean. The taste of this pork was so different and like nothing I have ever tasted before. Although the cut ends were fat, the meat inside was fairly lean, but still packed in so much taste. I'm not exactly sure what the difference is in terms of the type of pork or the way it is raised, but whatever the British are doing, the difference in quality is incomparable and for the better.
Great meal to end a long day. You'll be hearing more from me about pork and beer :)
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