Beer and pizza. Wine and cheese. Cake and dessert wine. Yes, there are some rather obvious pairings in the drinking and dining world, but they've usually evolved as winners for good reason. But when it comes to selecting spirits, we tend to overlook the subtle flavours present in many well-loved spirits, such as crowd favourite vodka. Known for its delicate, pair-with-anything flavour, we asked Grey Goose ambassador Andy Wren to shed some light on its secret culinary partners.
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"Vodka is really clean, so it works with lovely subtle-flavoured foods. Seafood and chilled vodka is a really good pairing," says Wren. "If I was designing a dinner based around vodka it wouldn't simply be the flavour of the vodka that would be considered, it would be the flavours within the finished cocktail. The tasting menu at La Boulangerie [the recent Sydney pop up] saw a wet martini which is very clean, crisp and subtle paired with Grey Goose cured fish, smoked cream and lime gremolata. The pair bounced off each other incredibly well."
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Right, but is there any food that's a definite no-no? Not when you're talking cocktails, says Wren. "The beauty of cocktails is that they're so versatile and can be matched really well to food flavours. Food matching to cocktails has become a seriously popular trend, as the palate is a place that loves to be stimulated." And while anything goes, Wren suggests putting your lab coat on and getting extra experimental. "An element of surprise is often the best - try pairing opposing flavours which shouldn't work. Remember: peanut M&M's and salted popcorn shouldn't work, but they do!"
Still unsure? "Think of the salt rim of the margarita cocktail. The inclusion of salt actually sweetens the flavour of the cocktail as your palate is braced for salt, so when the sweet and sour cocktail washes over your palate, your brain works hard to process the experience," says Wren.
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One of Wren's favourite pairings is flavoured Grey Goose in the way of La Poire (their pear infused vodka) with dessert. "Try it with poached pear and you'll see how similar the flavour of the vodka is to the fruit," suggests Wren. "The sugar found in desserts balances the strength of the vodka and the variety of textures and temperatures we can combine in a dessert means that every mouthful is different and exciting," he explains. We reckon that's the perfect invitation to order dessert with every meal, then...