Match of the Day
PUBLISHED: 11:02 18 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:02 18 November 2014
Beer sommelier Ross Turner teams game and dark, rich beer at The Shepherd & Dog, Forward Green
On September 22 last year, Greig Young and Lizzie Ward took over the lease of the Shepherd & Dog, Forward Green, just outside Stowmarket. I was fortunate enough to meet them almost one year on, in the summer of this year, when they had a hog roast for a community event in the village.
My first impression was how professional they both are at such a young age – it’s as though they’ve been in the business years. Lizzie, 29, and Greig, 24, both have a tremendous amount of knowledge, which they’ve acquired through working at a three-rosette establishment in Berkshire for three years, No 1 at the Balmoral in Edinburgh for around 14 months and travelling through New Zealand and Australia for a year.
They’ve updated the Shepherd & Dog to a high standard, gaining the respect of the community, listening to the locals and taking on board their comments.
Greig operates as head chef, while Lizzie is front of house, greeting customers with her bubbly personality. It works well. Two of the staff in the kitchen were so impressed with the couple they followed them from Edinburgh and Berkshire, keen to support them and be part of their modern take on fine al la carte cuisine.
The Shepherd & Dog offers Suffolk diners something fresh and new, using ingredients from local producers. Diners can sample daily baked breads such as treacle bread and triple malted loaf, delicious on their own or with any of the Greene King beers available.
We decided the dish that ticked all the right boxes for November’s match was in-season venison with roasted squash, toasted linseed and mixed grain.
The presentation of the dish was oustanding – medium rare venison, glazed roasted squash, linseed, shaved turnip like little petals on the plate, toasted barley. I’ve never spent so much time looking at a plate of food before eating it.
This time of year I prefer to taste darker coloured beers, which offer warmth and rich, fruity, roasted flavours. There are several styles that work well with venison – old ale, Trappist beer and some of the American brown ales.
I need something well balanced and quite rich in flavour, which means a stronger and higher ABV (alcohol by volume). Greene King Abbot Ale 5%abv fits the bill. Based in Bury St Edmunds for more than 200 years, Greene King is one of the country’s biggest and oldest brewers. It also has a portfolio of more than 1,900 pubs, restaurants and hotels.
The venison dish popped on to the table is elegance itself, so we use elegant glassware – a large wine glass. I regularly drink my beer at home in a wine glass – it allows me to hold the glass to the light and swirl the beer around, capturing all the lovely aromas, when doing so in this instance I get a fruity and slightly herbaceous note from the hops, as well as a caramel sweetness.
The beautifully cooked pink loin of venison has the gamey flavour one expects. There is not much fat on this cut so Greig includes linseed to help with the overall flavour. The fruity impact of the beer really lifts the meat, the roasted squash is exquisite, like buttery toffee, complementing the caramel flavour from the malt in the beer.
So, go and try it for yourself. Lizzie and Greig, take a bow!