Monday, November 17, 2008

Absinthe Ice Cream & More

I've been traveling a lot lately, and somehow my blogging has gone by the wayside again. I even missed the last Mixology Monday, which was a good one and I had lots of ideas for it.
In the spirit of getting back into it, I bring you some highlights from my recent road trip. I traversed the middle of Illinois, and a good chunk of Indiana. I know you're jealous!

Most interesting Food: Absinthe Ice Cream
My friends at Radio Maria in Champaign, Illinois worked up a series of small plates that paired with pre-Prohibition cocktails for an event we planned together. And they surprised me with absinthe ice cream for dessert, made with our Sirène. It was fantastic, really kind of like eating your absinthe instead of drinking it. Sweet, but not overly so, creamy and oh so complex. If you find yourself in Champaign, stop by and ask if they still have any, or if they've made more - it was a big hit. In any event, their chef Matt is a genius and I highly recommend the food there.

Best Food & Cocktail Pairing: Ginger Gimlet & Scallop Ceviche
I helped organize four cocktail and food pairing dinners in the last month or so. The award for best pairing goes to Seven Saints in Champaign (sorry, no website), where we paired a Ginger Gimlet (gin, fresh lime, ginger syrup) with a Scallop Ceviche (ginger-cilantro oil, green onion and tomato). It was the most popular of the evening by far among the guests, and stands out in my memory as one of the best I've ever had.

Most Interesting Drink: (ri)1 Whiskey
I only give this award to ri because it was the only thing I drank that I had never had before. I've tasted so many things anymore, it's very hard to find something new that I actually want to try. Thanks to Dennis Cheng at the Irish Lion in Bloomington, Indiana (another great restaurant) for sharing a taste of his new bottle of ri with me. It had a wonderful nose (and a great package), but was a bit lighter on the palate than I expected (especially for a rye). Not sure I'd pay $50+ for it, but it was definitely sippable. Interesting to note that there doesn't appear to be an age statement on the bottle.

Now that I'm back in Chicago, I'll soon be out and about looking for cocktail adventures. Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

I just stumbled onto your blog through a link on Oh Gosh!, and I just wanted to say that I wandered into Radio Maria during that pairing event! I didn't try the Sirene ice cream (milk allergy), but the Aquavit with Lillet ice cubes (actually, not Lillet, but something that tasted very similar) was delicious.

I'm a master's student in food science at UIUC, so I go to Radio Maria pretty frequently. Lately I've been asking for a lot of North Shore in the cocktails there, although I prefer a basil gimlet (basil, fresh lime, gin) to Seven Saints' ginger version.

Anyway, I thought it was funny that I stumbled on your blog by chance, as I and my roommates admire your gin quite a bit (your aquavit is nice, too!).

~Sonja~ said...

Thanks so much for the visit, drinksnob! Sorry we didn't get to meet that night. I'd certainly go to Radio Maria frequently if I lived in the area, and thank you for drinking North Shore when you're there!