Salon, part deux

This past Sunday was our second Salon.

Dave Martin, from the first season of Top Chef and Jason Littrell, from Death and Co., discuss "New American Classics".

I generally do not care to have cocktails with food.  Before, after, or on their own, absolutely, but the complex flavors and high alcohol content make cocktails a challenge when it comes to pairing with food.  Dave and Jason did a fine job of making me reconsider.

1st course: Salad of Roasted Beets with Candied Walnuts, Gorgonzola, Watercress and a Roasted Shallot and Brown Sugar Vinaigrette. 1st cocktail: The Drink with No Name; Courvoisier VS, ginger and cinnamon syrup, lemon, Old Fashioned bitters. The fresh ginger component of the cocktail was my favorite - it was spicy enough, without overpowering the other ingredients. The sweetness of the Cognac and cinnamon complemented the candied walnuts and the earthiness of the bitters was a great match to the beets.

2nd course: Dave's Sage and Applewood Bacon Mac with Irish Cheddar and Cream. 2nd cocktail: North Garden; Laphroaig Scotch, Laird's Bonded Applejack, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Demerara Syrup and Angostura Bitters. Two things to point out regarding this cocktail: it's pretty much all booze and the Islay Scotch imparts a good deal of peat smoke. After having a bite of one of the richest macaroni and cheese dishes I've ever had, I was happy to have such a strong and smoky cocktail. In fact, the mac made this cocktail taste like apple juice and enabled everyone at my table to lick their ramekins clean.

I didn’t get a great photo of course 3: Coca Cola Braised Boneless Lamb Shoulder with Sweet and Sassy Smokehouse Rub and Roasted Poblano Sauce.  3rd cocktail: Gold Rush; McKenzie Bourbon, honey syrup and lemon.  This dish had a lot going on – it was sweet, it was spicy, it was earthy and Jason was wise to pair it with a simple, refreshing cocktail.

Arguably the prettiest and most surprising cocktail of the afternoon was the La Vie en Rose: Nolet's Gin, St. Germain, Raspberry Syrup, Egg White and Cream. All of the acidity was supplied by the raspberry syrup and the combination of egg whites and frothed cream gave the cocktail a silky density. It smelled and tasted like a sweet old lady's perfume (in a good way).

La Vie en Rose's partner was Homemade Lemon and Vanilla Sponge Cake with Fresh Berries and Whipped Mascarpone. The dessert brought out the raspberries in the cocktail and was (thankfully) a light way to end the tasting.

See you on July 10, when we’ll be pairing Jim Meehan’s original cocktails with Aaron Meicht’s orginial compositions.

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