Photo by skunks/Flickr CC
What do you do when you are a famous chef with everything--a famous chain of restaurants, your own TV show, books etc--but need to show you are still inventive and fame has not killed the inspiration?
Non-alcoholic drinks. Great restaurants have wine pairings to appeal to the discerning wine drinkers--actually to help people who do not know much experience fantastic wines and to give those who know a lot many different tastes. But what about the rest of us--people who don't drink or can tolerate only 3 or 6 ounces of alcohol?
Charlie Trotter has come up with "Beverage Accompaniment" that offers non-alcoholic drinks paired just the way the wines are paired.
The first one was pineapple and geranium. It did not sound appealing. I find pineapple too syrupy and thick and cannot imagine geranium as a drink. But it was fantastic, light and refreshing. Just a hint of the pineapple taste with real tang and a subtle, flowerly long aftertaste--the geraniums you eat in salad made liquid and light!
None of the others worked nearly as well. The fenugreek and lemongrass was so disastrous I could not finish it. The walnut and thyme drink was so rich it was almost chocolaty. The yogurt and mint was a refreshing palate-cleanser but hit no high note. The last drink was peach and lemon. I was hoping for something sweet, tangy, and invigorating. No such luck. It was flat. Not tasteless but so understated that it was hard to pick out the peach taste at all.
I love the idea of new beverages by leading chefs to be paired with great dishes. But at least Charlie Trotter will have to work harder to get more of these drinks right.