Yesterday, Finnish beer, wine and food writer Mikko Montonnen spoke with American-Finnish cookbook writer and Food Network chef Sara La Fountain. Today, Sara’s views on American cuisine, and her robust baked bean recipe.—JJ

Baked Beans Flavored with Beer

Sara La Fountain

New York means for Sara a melting pot of nations—also on a plate. She finds a lot of Scandinavian influence in East Coast cooking.

“People think that American food is just fast food and donuts,” she says. “It isn’t true in a cultural mecca like New York, where you can even find amazing Japanese fast food. New York is a place of energy that amazes me with what it’s got to offer. I go to New York for inspiration. I let the ideas come in from the bookstores, the way people dress, etc. I love SoHo with its amazing restaurants full of heart.”

All right, but what sort of beers does our beautiful chef enjoy?

“I love the sauna and a beer afterwards. I moved to Finland when I was four or five, and my grandma was really into sauna. Others would have to get out of the room while we had our sauna! I like pale, light lagers like Corona and Sol. I’m always willing to taste, and love the samplers at the American brewpubs.”

“My philosophy on food includes different taste flavors: salty, sweet and sour, hot and cold. I love good Mexican cooking, and like to use its ingredients. Beers like Sol and Corona compensate the spiciness of the food.”

Sara’s favorite restaurant can, of course, be found in New York: the Japanese-style Nobu. But does she have plans for a place of her own?

“If I founded a restaurant of my own, it would be like a child. There would be no time for other things”.

During the interview Sara tastes for the first time a very summery beer: Lindemans Kriek.

“Wow! A fantastic nose. This goes well with rhubarb.”


  • 3 cans brown baked beans
  • 5 ounces bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 teaspoons tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons ketchup
  • 5 ml mustard powder
  • 1.5 pints pale lager
  • 1 pint syrup
  • 30 ml salt
  • 2 tablespoons demi-glace
  • 2 teaspoons fine sugar
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons meat stock
  • 1.5 pints fine sugar as a topping

1. Cut the bacon and onion into small bits, and fry in the pan so that they get some color. Add the crushed garlic.

2. In a large pot, combine the bacon-onion mixture with the tomato purée, ketchup, mustard powder, beer, syrup, salt, demi-glace, fine sugar, butter and a dash of the meat stock. (Save some meat stock on the side.) Let it simmer at mild heat.

3. Add the beans. If you run out of liquid, add the rest of the meat stock. The beans are supposed to be heavy so let it simmer.

4. Check the palate and add spices, if needed. Put the beans in a pot, add fine sugar on top and cook at 400° F so that it gets color.

Tomorrow: Beer-Roasted Chicken with Saison