A most unusual dinner on Thursday night, at one of London’s top restaurants, Le Gavroche.
It was a spirits dinner with Mangrove (who are the spirits arm of Coe Vintners) www.mangroveuk.com)? They supplied Michel Roux and his team, and encouraged them to find food and spirit pairings. Some of the dishes were made using spirits; others were matched with spirits. It was an interesting experience, and my notes are thus:
PETIT VERRE DE BLOODY MARY PINCE DE CRABE
Bloody Mary with Celery Bitters, Tempura Crab Claws
This bloody mary, made with Chase potato vodka, was spicy and bitter, and went really well with the crab claws, though more as a sort of sauce than as an accompanying drink. The celery bitters really work well, adding a nice bite.
MAQUEREAU MARINE AU GINGEMBRE VINAIGRETTE DE SOY
Cured Mackerel with Ginger of the Indies, soy and Mirin Dressing
This mackerel had been marinaded in in a liquer called Ginger of The Indies, which is produced in France using west indian ginger. It was used sparingly, and worked well. Here, we had a more conventional wine pairing, with the delicious Zind Humbrecht Riesling Heimbourg 2007 from Alsace. It’s a beautifully balanced dry white with some richness to it, but it was slightly overpowered by the ginger liqueur.
FOIE GRAS CHAUD AUX PAIN D’EPICES, CASSIS NOIR DE BOURGOGNE
Spice bread Coated Foie Gras, Blackcurrant Duck Jus
This dish was sensationally good. A lump of incredibly soft, melting, textured duck liver with a crisp coating. Here we tried two spirit matches. The first was Giffard Abricot de Rousillon Liqueur, which was amazingly aromatic and fruity. It was just too much, although its sweetness worked well with the richness of the liver. Chilled down by adding an icecube, it worked much better: the fruitiness of the liqueur was subdued, allowing some of its almond, nutty characters to emerge. The second match was Chase vodka with some Burgundy Cassis. This worked OK if the cassis component was upped, but was still a little too hot in the mouth for a comfortable match.
PIGEON ROTI, PUREE DE CELERI RAVE, TRESORS DES BOIS ET SAUCE AU CHOCOLAT AMER
Roast Pigeon with Wild Mushrooms Celeriac and « Mozart » Bitter Sauce
This was a beautifully cooked pigeon breast with a chocolate sauce. The source of the chocolate was a chocolate bitter, and it was simply too overpowering for me. I found that the flavour of chocolate just didn’t mesh so well with the pigeon, but others at the table were more positive. This was matched with wine: a thoroughly delicious Schloss Halbturn Pinot Noir 2006 Austria. A good match, but the chocolate was still a problem.
SORBET DE LYCHEE ET CEYLON ARRACK
Lychee and Ceylon Arrack Sorbet
Interesting. This Ceylon Arrack was made using the sack of the coconut plant, and is rather tasty, with nice complexity. Worked well poured over the sorbet.
TRUFFE CHOCOLAT AMEDEI ET ARAKU, GELEE AU RHUM
Amedei Chocolate and Araku Truffle Crispy Rice, Rum and Orange Jelly
A fine dessert. Matched with Santa Teresa 1796 Rum, a solera system rum from Venezuela with the youngest rum at 6 years old and the oldest at 35. This is a beautifully complex warm, intense, sweet, fudgey rum with some vanilla notes, and goes surprisingly well with this dessert.