Tag Archives: Food Pairing

Vermicelli Salad & Nickel Brook Raspberry Über Berliner Weisse

Adapted from The Toronto Star

When I completed Level II of my Prud’homme Beer training a few years ago I was certified a Beer Specialist, which is a pretty useful designation if you know what to do with it.

My investment in beer education paid me back many times over with writing jobs and opportunities to educate clients about beer. It gave me a measure of credibility when I started RunTOBeer. Most importantly it taught me a whole lot about what’s happening in Ontario’s industry and connected me in a way online training could never do.

But Level III (certified Beer Sommelier) always sat just out of reach, somewhat teasingly. I didn’t register for Prud’homme planning NOT to finish all three levels, but the final course (at the time – a fourth level has since been added) placed plenty of weight on food and beer pairings, with a particular focus on cheese.

As a vegan, that complicated things for me. The beer world still generally dismisses plant-based diets, even though vegan cuisine is evolving quickly with plenty of experimentation producing outstanding results. Much like beer itself, increasingly focused on flavour and innovation, vegan cuisine is now far more appealing to a broader audience.

Vegan cheese is not only much more widely available, but flavours and textures have improved dramatically. If cheese is going to be my biggest obstacle to completing Prud’homme, it’s no longer insurmountable.

So I’ve registered to start Level III in October.

Now, with that on the horizon, it’s time to re-commit to blogging with a greater focus on beer and food pairings.

I’m starting with vermicelli salad because it’s been my favourite recipe lately. It’s so simple to make, uses easy-to-obtain ingredients and requires almost no clean-up. It’s brilliant as a meal for one or as a starter before the main course.

I paired it with Nickel Brook‘s outstanding Raspberry Über Berliner Weisse, the fruity tartness of which sits nicely with salad’s sweet chili sauce. The beer’s light, effervescent body is a very nice companion to the freshness of the vegetables.

2016-11-15-14-21-48Vermicelli Salad


About 15 minutes.

20160909_172150Stage 1 – Dry vermicelli noodles.  Just cover with hot water and wait for them to get soft.


Stage 1

1 handful dry, thin rice noodles (vermicelli)

Stage 2

1 tsp olive oil

1 cup smoked tofu

1 handful chopped green beans

Stage 3

1/4 cup grated carrot

Sweet chili sauce, to taste

Stage 4

8 – 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, sliced

Fresh mint leaves

Smoked tofu, tomoatoes, fresh mint, green beans, grated carrots and avocado.


  1. Place uncooked vermicelli noodles into a large, heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Stir occasionally, until soft.
  2. In a non-stick pan (I use a wok), heat Stage 2 ingredients (oil, green beans and smoked tofu) until the beans begin to brown.
  3. Strain vermicelli noodles and add to a large salad bowl. Add green beans and smoked tofu.
  4. Stir in Stage 3‘s grated carrot and enough sweet chili sauce to achieve your desired flavour.
  5. Top with Stage 4 ingredients (halved tomatoes, avocado, fresh mint leaves
  6. Serve with Nickel Brook Brewery’s Raspberry Über Berliner style Weisse.




Vegan Mac’n’Cheese with Niagara Oast House Saison

If you live in Southern Ontario, you’ve probably noticed Mother Nature has taken a cue from the Toronto Maple Leafs and stopped caring. February and March were miserable. Spring looks bleak…

Times like these require comfort food and beer!

A big ol’ casserole dish of vegan mac’n’cheese is ideal, because it’s great out of the oven and just as tasty reheated. It’s as satisfying at lunch as at the end of a night out.

Like many of my recipes, I make mine spicier than others might enjoy. If you want a bit less heat, try subbing out the cayenne and chopped serrano pepper for cracked black pepper and green onion.

I’m enjoying mine with a Niagara Oast House Saison (7.0%). This beautiful beer’s earthiness and peppery bite are a stellar complement to the cheddar-like flavour of the mac’n’cheese.

Did I mention how great this is reheated?
Did I mention how great this is reheated?

About 30 minutes, start to finish


Stage 1

1/2 bag (450 grams) of macaroni

Stage 2

1/3 package (about 125 grams) of firm or extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

3/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon of miso paste

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

Stage 3

1/2 cup olive oil

3/4 cup of plain, unsweetened cashew milk

1/2 cup of water

1/6 cup soya sauce



serrano or jalapeño pepper, chopped

cayenne pepper


green onion, chopped

black pepper

Nutritional Yeast, tastes like nutty cheddar flakes
Nutritional Yeast, tastes like nutty cheddar flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Boil pasta until soft. While that’s happening you should have time to prepare the rest.
  3. Throw all the ingredients from Stage 2 in a blender. Don’t start it yet.
  4. Combine all the Stage 3 ingredients (the liquids) in a large measuring cup. It should come to just under 2 cups.
  5. When the pasta is done, strain it.
  6. Pour the Stage 3 (liquid) ingredients in with the Stage 2 (non-liquid) stuff and blend it up! Let it go for a while, so the contents become really creamy.
  7. While the blender’s doing its thing, move the pasta into a casserole dish and spread it around evenly.
  8. Cover the pasta with the sauce you’ve just made.
  9. Add optional ingredients to suit your taste.
  10. Bake for about 10-15 minutes (no lid required), stirring once.  I generally put it back in the oven for a few minutes on the “broil” setting to brown the top.
  11. It’s ready.
Macaroni in a strainer
Straining the macaroni
Macaroni about to go into the oven
Macaroni covered in vegan cheese sauce
Chopped serrano pepper
Chopped serrano pepper
Vegan Mac'n'Cheese, spiced up and ready to go in the oven
Vegan Mac’n’Cheese, spiced up and ready to go in the oven
Vegan Mac'n'Cheese, right out of the oven
Vegan Mac’n’Cheese, right out of the oven


Niagara Oast House Saison
Niagara Oast House Saison

Availability: LCBO (750 ml bottles) and at the brewery.

Notes: This farmhouse style is bottle conditioned (the aging date is stamped on the back) and pours beautifully, with a solid, generous head that disappears slowly and leaves a cloud of lacing as you drink.

ABV: 7.0% according to the bottle, but 6.5% if you trust the LCBO’s website.

  • I picked up some spicy sesame seeds (pictured below) at a Day Of The Dead festival. They’re sooooo good sprinkled over mac’n’cheese!
Spicy Sesame Seeds
If you can find ’em, grab ’em!