“Una birra per favore,” says the lovely lady in my car stereo. “One beer please,” parrots her male counterpart.
With the death of CDs, practically the only thing in my car is an old set of ‘Learn Italian in Your Car‘ discs I got for Christmas ages ago. When I can’t get Pandora to play on my phone for some reason, I fall back on these CDs rather than abuse my ears with broadcast radio. I love listening to these CDs actually because the woman’s voice is so sweet and perky with just a hint of attitude. Plus Italian is a beautiful language.
The reason I bring this up is that we bought some Peroni lately to make macaroni and cheese, and I’ve been cooking with it ever since. Yes, some of the beer does make it into the food–I don’t drink all of it while I’m slaving away in the kitchen.
Peroni Nastro Azzurro is an Italian beer, a pale lager to be exact. This is not a fancy beer by any stretch of the imagination. It’s best described as ‘typical’ Italian birra. It’s light, bubbly, and best served cold. It has sweet malty and yeasty flavors, with a hint of white wine, and ends with a satisfactory bitterness that is just right. It’s not going to satisfy the real beer drinkers, but it’s not Michelob Ultra.
It’s a nice beer for cooking with because you’re not wasting a good beer by burying it under other flavors, and there’s just enough flavor from the Peroni coming through that you can taste the beeriness. Beside the obvious use in the cheese gravy for the mac-and-cheese, I’ve also been using it in pasta dishes since I’ve run out of my usual white wine and have thus far failed to put it on my shopping list (blast and damnation!). The acid from the tomatoes and citrus is highlighted by the mellow beer notes and that final slight bitterness.
I’ve been holding onto a beer bread recipe that calls for a pale beer, and I think this might be the time to try it out. I’ve always loved beer bread because of its interesting texture and ideal combination of beer and bread flavors. (I know, those are actually the same flavor generally, but it’s like the fascination with twins–a variation on what should be the same thing actually.) Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
In the mean time, I am waiting to get the point on my ‘Learn Italian‘ CDs when the cheerful, sassy lady tells me how to say “Ho mangiato la pasta così tanto che sto per esplodere!” That should be a handy phrase to know for when we head over to the big boot.
Peroni Birra, SABMiller
Peroni Nastro Azzurro