This article is the beginning of long overdue recognition to those Chefs who delight us with their exploration of tasty ways to complement our favorite beverage.
How DID he do it? Who would have expected such an exquisite match from a Chef who doesn't drink alcohol? This breaks all the rules and was the bombshell surprise when we sat down to talk to Christopher Gardner, Chef Partner of Flemings Prime Steakhouse in La Jolla, California. This avid golfer, cactus collecting, mountain bike rider from Walla Walla, Washington modestly suggested that being in the hospitality industry for 28 years honed his senses and skills in working with compatible flavors. What an understatement! Researching Glenmorangie amounted to more than nosing each expression like an expert. Since scotch was the focus of this tasting event, he had to be careful that each recipe was deliciously compatible but did not interfere with the spirit. So once each distinct palate was detected, the strategy for matching began. Chef Gardner confessed that the prevelant notes of honey, vanilla and citrus too readily suggested
dessert. Therefore the trick was in how to head his small bites in a savory direction. And since Glenmorangie never strays too far from their known and beloved house style, Gardner needed to avoid becoming too flavor repetitious in order to keep the overall tasting experience exciting. In our opinion, he deserves high marks all around. Here is our synopsis of his impressive pairing menu:
Citrus Blossom Cocktail - Drops of honey frozen in a shot glass were topped off just before serving by Glenmorangie Original, plus a layer of lime foam and garnish of lemon peel. The result is a beautiful and refreshing start to a memorable meal.
Original 10 Year Old with Seared Ahi Tuna dressed with a Mild Citrus Salsa - Small sections of grapefruit and orange were added to a tradtional tomato jalapeno salsa to echo the citrusy effervescence of this dram. The clean, simple
lightness of the fish acts as a delicious counterpoint to the creaminess of the Glenmorangie Original.
Lasanta with Peppery Lambsicles escorted by a Walnut Pesto - Here Chef Gardner stayed away from the obvious citrus notes to highlight the nutty undertones of Lasanta. Lambsicles were simply but generously seasoned, then quickly deep fried to a perfect medium rare. While garlic and scotch make an unlikely pair, the sweetness brought out in roasting was just the ticket. Roasted garlic used in the right proportion was delicate enough to let the walnut flavor ring through. Move over mint sauce, you have some serious competition with this savory pesto for lamb.
Quinta Ruban with Bacon Wrapped Scallops Drizzled with Meyer Lemon Honey Glaze - Silky scotch accentuated by the smooth texture and sweetness of large diver scallops creates a heavenly combination. The subdued smokiness from the bacon adds interest, but it's the citrusy glaze that elevates this popular pairing from something usual to something sublime. (See recipe below)
Artein 15 year old Sassicaia (Super Tuscan Wine) finish paired with Crostini of Fig Pate - We were anxious to try this newly released and featured limited edition from Glenmorangie. It is luxurious, complex and just dangerously drinkable. Chef Gardner mixed sweet figs with the mildly tangy Montrachet goat cheese to produce a lush spread. Topped with slices of dates, it made for a tasty food accessory that didn't upstage the star of this event.
Glenmorangie Extremely Rare with an Apple, Blueberry, Caramel Cobbler dressed with Mocha Chantilly Creme - This velvety and warming, uber-smooth expression was contrasted by the many textures and flavors of the dessert. Baked fruit covered a layer of caramel and was topped with a delicate mocha cream. While there was little in the cobbler to mimic the spirit, the total complex effect was entertaining to the tastebuds on so many levels.