Naima Craft and me hard at work preparing.

Finding the perfect pairing isn’t just about food and beer.

I was reminded of this recently when I got together with Naima Craft of The Craft, a new venture in Bloomfield, Conn., that gives clients a chance to learn the art of baking. She asked if I could lead a class on pairing food with beer, and I was excited to take on the challenge. You can sign up for our December 14 class here: The Craft Catering.

We had a lot of fun preparing for the class with her in my dining room, mixing and sometimes matching cuts of cheese, meat, and chocolate with a slew of beer styles, from hefeweizen to imperial stout.

Naima and I started with a plan, much inspired by Julia Herz and Gwen Conley’s Beer Pairing and Garrett Oliver’s The Brewmaster’s Table. We thought about which foods would pair best with which styles, and filled the table with chilled bottles and cans and samples of delicacies that might make the eventual menu.

Two things made two-hour preparation session especially enjoyable: the selections and Naima’s reaction to each combination. Whether it was a wrong-note failure, bliss-inducing alchemy, or somewhere in between, Naima – who claims not to be a “beer person” – absorbed it all.

Naima was born and raised in Trinidad, where she said that having a great time was always surrounded by food. “Trinidadians are known for something called ‘limin,'” she wrote to me. “In other words, hanging out with a good beer or mixed drink and of course flavorful food.”

She said Trinidadian flavors influences how she enjoy experiences surrounding different types of foods. Naima recently started her own business, teaching students ways to bake, which is her passion.

I remember when I was around the tween age, my grandmother introduced me to basic baking: Cakes and quick breads, all by hand,” she said. “Then she bought me my own hand mixer! I felt so special, especially being aware of how much and how long she may have had to save to purchase that precious baking tool.”

After graduating from the University of Hartford, where she earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and attaining advanced certification in vestibular rehabilitation from the American Institute of Balance in Florida, she worked as a physical therapist. But her love of food never left her.

“I love sharing my creations with others and learning new ways to improve my outcomes,” she said, “always pursuing that ‘soul-hugging’ experience as best as I could.”

This is how The Craft was born, and I’m so honored to be a part of this journey. We hope you’ll take it with us. Sign up for this December 14 class and enjoy a “soul-hug.”





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