A few weeks ago fellow food blogger Kavey, who writes the rather excellent blog Kavey Eats, set an interesting challenge. Much has been written about the matching of food and wine, but it seems there's a dearth of information on how to best match food with non-alcoholic drinks. Kavey's challenge, therefore, was to come up with some interesting food and soft drink pairings.
Beyond the typical non-alcoholic trinity of coke/water/juice, it’s unusual to find much more on offer in a restaurant. There are of course a few notable exceptions, and some restaurants (mostly high-end) have concocted soft drinks to win over the hearts of the most committed oenophiles.
When I ate at Noma last year I was offered the option of a matching juice menu that included Nordic exotics such as apple pine and sea buckthorn juices. Instead, I opted for the matching booze, but part of me still thinks that the juices would have been far more exciting. The two-Michelin starred Chicago restaurant Charlie Trotter's is also noted for its matching soft drinks menu with mouth watering options like Grapefruit, Chai & Rosemary and Rhubarb, Fennel & Juniper. But these restaurants definitely remain the exception rather than the rule.
The classic marriage of fish and white wine is an obvious place to start. One popular midweek dinner in the Nibbler household is a dish of salmon and orecchiette. Norway produces some truly outstanding salmon, and I never get tired of eating it. The recipe is taken from Kiwi chef Peter Gordon's book, A World in my Kitchen. Like most of his cooking it's a fusion of East and West, and the salmon here works so well with the spinach, fresh lemon, sesame oil and zingy chillies.
- 8 parts water
- 2 parts elderflower cordial
- 1 part lime cordial
- A few drops of lime juice
- A few drops of passion fruit juice
I also picked up this bottle of organic blackcurrant cordial that is made on the ancient Østre Enger Farm some 40km west of Oslo. Its flavour is quite extraordinary and is a world away from something like Ribena. It's much less sweeter for a start and is bursting with an intense blackcurrant taste. It is also pleasingly dry on the palate. In sum, it crossed my mind that this might go perfectly well with foods that would typically be matched with a Cabernet Sauvignon, such as fatty red meat. A simple approach maybe, but very effective.
So what about you? Do you have any soft drink/food pairings you'd like to share?