In honor of Valentine’s Day and the Olympics, we want to give a gold medal shout out to a really cool sport and the really cool company that helps keep them flying. The sport is ski jumping. This year ski jumping is especially exciting because for the first time ever (a mere 90 years after the men started), women ski jumpers are allowed to compete in the Olympics.
In Europe top ski jumpers have rock star status. In this country ski jumpers are rarely featured between Olympics. The sport struggles to find funding for the training needed to fly, oh, a football field plus, nearly straight downhill. That’s where Lagunitas, a groovy craft beer company from Northern California, comes in. As sponsor of the US Ski Jumping Team Lagunitas has become more like family than funder. Since they are in Sochi, cheering on the team, we figure we can do our part by cheering from home, while drinking Lagunitas of course. Today happens to be a snow day here, and a Friday, and Valentine’s Day, and the day the men take to the “large” (read crazy) hill, so it seems like a good time to start.
Let’s be real. Valentine’s Day can be amateur night, sort of like New Years Eve, with a lot of undeliverable hype and expectation. What we need are options that maximize togetherness and minimize contrived, awkward and complicated situations.
Here’s a low investment/high return plan. Grab a six pack of the good stuff (might we suggest Lagunitas, which happens to be extra strength) and anything that looks good for dipping. This can be pretzels, apples, dried fruit, veggies, nuts, crackers, bread, cookies—really anything that you like at the store or have on hand. At home, open one of the beers. Make a super easy beer and cheese sauce. While that is warming up make an even easier chocolate dipping sauce.
At your final destination, or when your guest arrives, assemble the remaining five beers into Olympic ring formation. Get psyched. Arrange dips and dippers in easy reach. Turn on TV. Get cozy on the couch and let the Games—whatever they may be—begin.
I Love You More Than Beer (and cheese) Sauce
From the “The Beeroness” (Don’t you just love her sight unseen?)
2 Tbsp butter, softened (or melted
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup beer (use Lagunitas IPA for highest score from judges)
2 cup shredded Cheddar and/or Gouda, do not use pre shredded
1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper, paprika optional (and tasty).
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Process on high until very well blended, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer contents to a saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk rapidly and continuously until thickened, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Dip it Good Chocolate Sauce
From Joy the Baker
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (ore more)
scant 1 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
Place chocolate chunks, pinch of salt, and espresso powder (if using) in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate pieces. Let rest for 1 minute before whisking. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. They say to serve it warm but it’s good at any temp. This sauce is pretty thin, so it also pours easily over fruit and ice cream.
Note: The potential for extra points abounds here. You can make your own Easiest French Bread Ever to bring to the party, add a round of Snowchis to the mix, or whip up some Cholliesauce for more dipping pleasure. And of course, nobody’s going to object to that box of chocolates that was Plan A!