Food pairings: why they do work

Bisquit Cognac Nobu Pairing Dinner_Loic Rakotomalala introducing the brand resize

Loic Rakotomalala introducing Bisquit Cognac

A lot of skepticism abounds alcohol and food pairings with fair share of public opinion branding them more of a gimmick than actually holding real value.

To an extent I can understand the sentiment – there are so many out there, and many are done for the sake of it, to keep up with the latest trends in fancy dining.

But when a menu is designed by seriously talented chefs, and designed 100% around the particular products being paired with, alchemical food magic can happen. As it did recently, at Nobu, where we were hosted in fine style by Bisquit Cognac’s global ambassador, Loic Rakotomalala.

The science behind it is pretty simple. The human tongue contains 5 different taste detection centres, one each for salt, sour, sweet, bitter and umami. Hit these taste centres with the right balance and combination of flavours, and coupled with our sense of smell, things will taste amazing. The complicated part though, is having the depth of skill and experience to identify and combine these flavours, part from the food, part from the drink, to form the perfect notes of sublime sensory music.

King Klip Ama Ponzu (VSOP)

King Klip Ama Ponzu (VSOP)

Our specific pairing took us through some exquisite Asian cuisine matched harmoniously with the subtle nuances of the three Bisquit Cognac expressions available in South Africa, VS, VSOP, and XO.

Starting with Shitake mushroom salad that brought out so much depth to the VSOP Cognac, we moved through an amazing lightly battered Kingklip with soy, chilli and watermelon sauce.

What an explosion of flavours, umami in the mouth it’s perfect balance of sweet and sour exposing a depth of fruit and age in the cognac.

A few nagiri pairings came next matched with a very chilled VS grade Cognac, followed by another showstopper, grilled lamb cutlets and the exquisite XO Cognac.

This really stood out, as Loic explained “The 13 to 24 year old Cognac’s in the XO blend make it much more mature and complex than other expressions. What you taste and smell evolves as you sip it.”

Bisquit Cognac Nobu Pairing Dinner_Fourth course of Lamb Anti Cucho Honey Miso paired with XO resize

Lamb Anti Cucho Honey Miso

It was something I certainly agreed with, the subtle smoke and spicyness of the lamb matching the XO’s extended wood maturation exactly. The evening was rounded of with a Chocolate Bentu box and Coconut Ice Cream, again paired with the luxurious XO Cognac.

All in all a super experience and culinary delight. When top chefs work hard with top products and really understand the intrisics of these premium products, amazing things can happen for the taste buds.

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