Friday, March 27, 2009

Two of a kind...

So I've been playing around this afternoon and finally came up with some drinks for Sundays dinner.
It's kinda tough doing pairings, especially when dealing with complex dishes. I always find it difficult to balance the cocktail against the dish, with out one sort of taking the lead.
A pairing should be just that, a pair. They make sense together, and bring out some qualities in one another. Put a big drink next to a svelte dish, however and it just looks fat.
Not that each cocktail needs to be menu-bound or even menu-worthy, but each needs to stand alone as complete. (I doubt any of these would make it onto our list.)
That being said, it is a nice excercise in restraint and focus, yeilding some surprising flavor combinations that I would like to explore further. (wish I'd brought my camera today)
1. Honey and hot mustard. I was really just fooling around with this, finding it perhaps a bit campy for my taste, but I was pleasantly surprised at the balance of sweet and astringency, with a light, spicy, but not hot finish. The mustard really cleaned up the palate, making it quite food friendly. I plan to pair this with a pork belly, crawfish, uni, and ramen dish in a very simple pork stock, so I mixed it with some Dickel 12 yr whiskey and a little dash of bitters for a little cinnamon note. Result: A somewhat rich, sweetish, nutty old fashioned that mimicks the sweet, fattiness of the food while helping to cut it. I'm gonna have to put the mustard through some other trials, or find some similiar products to toy with.
2. Sometimes I find myself starting with a taste or ingredient and trying to put it back together from it's parts. I wanted an earthy berry or tart melon flavor for a cocktail, but nothing turning me on. Answer: I mixed a little Clear Creek Framboise (for the earthy funk), with some California port (for a little body, and some bright berry fruit), dash of grapefruit (for a touch of bitterness and tartness), and a little sugar to sweeten it up. It was showing pretty well, my little franken-fruit. To help lighten it and give a little more acid, just a shot of sparkling wine. It's a nice drink, kind of big and floral nose, but dry. Probably the toughest pairing, with yellowtail two ways, asparagus, eggs, avocado. Definitely turned on by the framboise/port combination. I think more and more how to smuggle a little earthiness into a cocktail without being bottom heavy.

The others are pretty simple, yet effective little haiku's:
Mezcal, ginger, lime with Abalone yakatori
Aquavit, maraschino, sweet vermouth, lemon, tea with Squid stuffed with blood sausage.
Chilled shot of Jewel of Russia vodka with the tiniest drip of hibiscus and rose water alongside Pt. Reyes oysters and caviar.

It's nice to play and ponder.... but alas, back to work. Hope to see you Sunday.

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