Pairing whisky with food, the Scottish way

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 23:06 |
Nyama Choma.

Faith Kyoumukama @martkinel

I am told we are on the 64th week of January.  As we await for the month of love and its highlight, Valentine’s Day, we can’t wait for the food escapades yet to come. 

But let me bring you back to pairings. It’s a one tough Njaanuary and we are all being forced to detox, what with our purses empty.    

Ever tried to pair food with whisky? Although not as common as wine or beer pairings, it is a highly rewarding experience, just like we paired cognac here recently in yet another unique experience. 

 I was recently invited for a whisky and food pairing night at Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi.

It turned to be an intense session with Glenmorangie (a single malt Scotch whisky made in Scotland) Brand ambassador, Hammish Torrie. 

The menu read Amuse Bouche; in restaurant terms these are single, bite-sized meals.

Amuse-bouche meals are different from appetisers in as they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but are served free and according to the chef’s selection.

The set up was a perfect fine dining experience, four empty whisky glasses placed together and an extra glass for water for cleaning the palette in between the tasting exercise.

 First of we had a tuna avocado salad as the starter. I am not such a big fun of tuna, but I enjoyed the fact that it was served on grilled focaccia and wasabi dip and greens.

This was paired with the 10-year-old Glenmorangie original whisky. Given its spicy nature, it pairs well with the tuna marinated in lemon and ginger. 

We then had lobster Bisque with whisky foam paired with Lasanta. It was my first time tasting it; they make it using lobster shells stock.

On a boil, it is topped up with whisky foam as opposed to traditional cream. 

For the main course, we were served a whisky-and-coke glazed pork belly; rosemary flavoured lamb rack and grilled jumbo prawn, served with spinach with butternut and Parma ham mashed potatoes. 

The large serving was quite filling —even just by the site of it. I loved the crispiness of the pork belly skin too, the lamb being so tender and full-on flavourful.

The jumbo prawns were firm and soft, being not too crunchy but perfect enough in each bite. 

It was paired with 14-year-old Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban. At the distillery, the quinta is made by pouring the 10-year-old Glenmorangie Original into port wine barrels from Portugal for four years.

Quite an easy combo too with the main dish and an alternative for dessert options too.

With then had dessert — strawberry tartlets served with vanilla custard and caramel ice cream and a garnish of chocolate. 

It was paired with 12-year-old Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or, made by putting Glenmorangie Original in French wine barrel. Nectar d’Or overpowers the dessert, so just add a little water to the whisky.  

 Pairing whisky and food is a unique but also delicate experience. 

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