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The Food Guy: Guinness goodness and more delicious beer pairings

I had a Blarney good time judging this past Sunday’s Guinness Cooking Competition as part of the city’s annual Celtic Calling, a celebration that gets bigger and better every year.

This year’s culinary event drew three delicious creations, all incorporating that famous Irish stout (and some other Celtic “spirits”) among their ingredients.

Last year’s runner-up, Katherine Schipke, entered a vegan Mushroom & Guinness Bisque bursting with wonderful earthy flavors (potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic, celery, thyme, sherry, soy, whew!) and the perfect hint of heat thanks to a kiss of cayenne and smoked paprika.

JoEllen Zacks whipped up a decadent Guinness Espresso Cake with Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheese Frosting that featured a delightfully moist chocolate cake blanketed with a rich icing laced with that signature Bailey’s kick.

And Becky Charles Suthers submitted a Guinness Stout Gingerbread Cake with Irish Cream Caramel Sauce that struck a perfect balance of sweet and spice, with brown sugar and molasses married with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and ginger.

All three dishes were award-worthy and I would’ve loved to have declared them all winners. But since this was a Guinness-themed contest, I gave the nod to the recipe that most embraced the beer that inspired it.

I could totally taste all the subtle flavors of Guinness in Becky’s gingerbread cake with caramel sauce — a dessert that fully embodied one of my favorite beers.

Congratulations, Becky!

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Maybe all of my griping about good local restaurants not being open on Sunday nights is starting to pay off.In addition to the discovery that Bricks & Barrels and The Block have recently joined the likes of Black Sheep, Adelphia and Pies & Pints as places that are open for dinner that evening, a loyal reader shared a few more options — and options to be — this week.

“We had two fabulous entrees plus the soup during ‘Vegetarian Week’ offerings at Bluegrass Kitchen recently, and our waitress said they will soon be open on Sunday nights,” Judy McJunkin reports.

She said other Sunday night restaurants they visit regularly are Taste of Asia, Recovery Grill, Kobe Asian Fusion and Sitar, “one of our favorites with free parking across the street.”

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As you settle in for dinner this evening, I’ll be getting ready to enjoy what looks to be a fantastic beer pairing dinner at the incomparable French Goat in Lewisburg.The restaurant has teamed up with the folks at nearby Greenbrier Valley Brewing to host a reception and four-course meal of special food/beer offerings. After a welcome taste of house-cut Cajun chips and herb yeast popcorn with Cardinal Red Ale, we’ll be enjoying beer cheese soup and Dijon pretzel with Ole Ran’l Pilsner; fish and chips with smoked pickle tartar sauce and Zona’s Revenge Whitbier; veal sausage with brown butter spätzle, sauerkraut and pickled shallots with Bat Boy Black Lager; and maple pot du crème with candied bacon, rice crisps and gastrique served with Irish Dave’s Maple Bourbon Porter.

The whole menu sounds amazing, but that dessert, y’all.

If you can’t make it, no worries. I’ll be sharing all of the bite-by-sip details of the experience, in addition to checking out the latest additions to Lewisburg’s top-notch dining scene while I’m there.

I’m here for you that way.

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J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works kicks off its 2019 “Celebrating the Seasons Dinner Series” March 24 with a rare featured chef from out of state.Chef David Rule from Walnut Kitchen in Maryville, Tennessee, will offer a multi-course regional menu featuring butter-bean hummus with baby vegetables, Georgia olive oil and hemp seed; North Carolina mountain trout with watercress, pickled onions, ramps, strawberries and black walnuts; duck breast with herbed polenta, wild mushrooms, grapes and duck jus; dry-aged beef with smoked fingerling potatoes, collard greens and hot sauce; and burnt caramel macarons with Cruze Farm milk.

A cash bar with beer, wine and spirits opens at 5:15 pm, a tour of the facility will be offered at 5:30 pm and dinner begins at 6 pm that evening.

Tickets are $90 and a portion of proceeds will benefit The West Virginia Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization assisting veterans of the armed forces to embark on careers in agriculture.

Another out-of-state guest chef will be featured at the next dinner April 11 with Kristin Smith of The Wrigley Taproom in Corbin, Kentucky.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.jqdsalt.com.

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by e-mail at wvfoodguy@aol.com. You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy”.

Funerals for Sunday, September 22, 2019

Browning, Thelma - 1 p.m., Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Cooper, Corey- 2 p.m., Henson & Kitchen Funeral Mortuary, Huntington.

Pennington, Connie- 2 p.m., White Cemetery, Danese. 

Waybright, Gerald- 3:30 p.m., Pickens Cemetery, Pickens. 

Young, Susan- 3 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.