Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Cocktail & Food Pairings

On Tuesday night, we had the pleasure of attending one of John Kinder's Spirited Dinners at MK The Restaurant. For the past few weeks, John has been running this program under the radar, just telling his friends & associates about it. We were excited to have an opportunity to join in this week.

John ha
s been working with MK's Executive Chef, Erick Simmons (click on "About Us" for bio & picture) and Pastry Chef Amy Sampson to develop a menu of cocktails and food pairings.Here's a brief rundown of the eating and drinking delights we enjoyed:

Aperitif & Amuse Bouche
d: fresh peeky toe crab, with small grapefruit pieces
Drink: House-made forelle pear spirit, clove grapefruit sour

1st Course & Cocktail
Food: Hamachi with yellow tail tuna, hearts of palm puree and pineapple relish
Drink: Gin No. 6 (a nice surprise!), jasmine-lemon sour, champagne, with a flamed tangerine peel garnish, which was a nice complement to the relish

Entree (and the most interesting pairing of the night)
Food: Crispy skin moulard duck breast, with cabbage, apples and calvados emulsion
Drink: Calvados, vermouth, orange juice and duck jus (yes, you read that right, duck jus)

This one was a great pairing, and the flavor from the duck jus was unmistakable in the cocktail. The cocktail was very savory already, and may have been a great pairing without the addition of duck jus, but it was also very interesting with it.

Food: buttermilk chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate mousse, bittersweet pave and meringue buttercream
Drink: John called it a Coffee Cocktail, made with cognac, port, sugar & a whole egg - it tasted a bit like coffee, but contained no coffee. John said it was an old-time cocktail, which I'll now have to research further!

This was a fantastic experience, and we were so excited to see John doing this. We've often played around with food & cocktail pairings, but most of the folks we talk to don't seem ready for it yet.

For John, its been a passion of his since he quit his day job to bartend a couple of years ago, so it was great to see him actually doing it (and having people come and enjoy it). If you're in Chicago, and you want to attend, get in touch with me and I'll put you in touch with John. So far, he's not seeking out publicity for this, but at some point its going to catch on and be very hard to get in on!

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