Being back in Delaware for this season always makes me miss the great white north. Vermont winters are wonderfully white and absolutely frigid (my favorite). The Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean make the climate of the DelMarVa Peninsula mild and wet. At time of writing, it’s snowed exactly once here this season and the temperature hasn’t yet dropped into the teens. It has, however, rained a whole bunch.
That does not, however, mean that it isn’t beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We’ve set up the tree at home, and gifts with my and my girlfriends names on them sit wrapped all pretty underneath. Argilla’s string lights are up, too, lending a festive air to an already fun place. Pizza and beer are festive, too, with flavors fitting for the holiday season.
Pesto Primavera is our pizza this month: an arugula and walnut pesto base topped with mozzarella, sun dried tomato, roasted garlic, black olives, roasted red peppers, olive oil, and Romano cheese. When it was set down in front of me, I was delighted by its appearance. Tomatoes and red peppers contrast the arugula pesto quite festively, and a dusting of grated Romano evokes a light snowfall. In terms of flavor, bell peppers, tomato, and pesto are low on my list of likes (and I actively dislike black olives), so this was not exactly a pizza built for me. That being said, it’s a cohesive, well designed recipe, so I did not have to struggle to finish my personal pie. Extra dashes of garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes certainly helped, but I’d still have been fine without them. I have no doubt that some of you reading are drooling over the thought of this pizza, and I’m confident that you won’t be disappointed should you try it yourself.
I did have the support of an extremely flavorful beer to help wash away the black olives. Argilla’s Raspberry Tart Coffee Mug is a tart and fruity sour stout brewed with lactose and conditioned on mounds of red ripe raspberries and Columbian coffee beans. Guinness sets such a high standard for stouts that I often find that they aren’t enjoyable. The Raspberry Tart is a sour stout: something I’ve never tried. It doesn’t sound like it necessarily makes sense, but once you taste it, there’s no question. Most striking, though, is how fragrantly the coffee conditioning comes through. So strong is the coffee bean flavor, I was surprised there was only beer in my mouth. It evoked quite strongly the experience of eating chocolate covered coffee beans in the best possible way.
Having ordered the Raspberry Tart before reading the beer list all the way down, I missed the fact that there was a specifically wintry beer on the list as well. Noel De Walloon is a Belgian golden strong ale brewed with fresh orange zest, vanilla, and cinnamon. The menu calls it “a potpourri of spice to help celebrate the holidays,” and I couldn’t agree more. The headline flavor is the golden Belgian beer, but that’s not to say the other flavors aren’t there. The cinnamon, vanilla, and orange all play a supporting role in what becomes a complex, delightful beer experience.
I’ve been going to Argilla monthly for about a year and a half now, and I’m still having fresh experiences. Their quality has remained constant (and high), and their creativity hasn’t let up. It may be the end of one year, but I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store, both for Argilla and for me.