Great Tastes Go Together

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July 01, 2013

Popular pairings that know no boundaries

With the rise of bite-sized hors d'oeuvre ideal for tasting, it's no wonder that more and more clients have been requesting pairings. Choosing food and beverages that go together is a fun and educational way to entertain the new breed of guests who want to be engaged with their food. Pairings have moved beyond wine and beer, with coffee, tea, spirits and even designer sodas getting into the mix.

The general principles of pairing find that the best flavors to put together are mirroring, complementary or contrasting, with some consideration of the weight and body of foods--thus, light wines and beers with fish and poultry, and bolder flavors with bolder meats.
In catering, some pairings are just classic, presentation-wise. A master sommelier might blanche at the thought of Coca-cola being paired with anything, but caterers know that a whimsical presentation can enrapture their guests as much as a smart taste match.
Here are a few pairings to help kick start your creativitity.


Cucumber martini, smoked salmon in cucumber rounds and watermelon gazpacho
Catering Creations, Omaha, NE
On a hot July day, the coolness of cucumber and watermelon are simply irresistible together. The addition of salmon, cream cheese and capers make this treat delicious at any time of day.


Vodka with caviar on edible spoons
Peter Callahan Catering, New York, NY
A taste of caviar, the crunch of the spoon and a shot of vodka make this pairing an array of textures and an authentically Russian treat.


Cosmopolitan with turkey, brie and cranberry sandwiches
Butler's Pantry, St. Louis, MO
Mirroring cranberry flavors make these tea sandwiches and cocktails perfect for a cocktail reception, and a lush evergreen presentation makes them seasonally appropriate at any time of year.


Rum and Coke with Cubano sandwiches
Butler's Pantry, St. Louis, MO    
The sweet, refreshing rum and Coke, also known as the Cuba Libre, balances out the salty, meaty, gooey classic grilled Cubano.

Salted caramel milkshake with banana chocolate hand pies
Butler's Pantry, St. Louis, MO    
A taste of home that's sweetly sinful, overindulgent and geometrically contrasted, this pairing is as visually appealing as it is delicious.


Algonquin with a skewer of barbecue beef
Tulips & Maple, Ottawa, Canada
Combining this classic cocktail with whiskey, pineapple and dry vermouth gives the pairing a rustic, outdoors feel. "The zest of the barbeque flavor pairs beautifully with the cocktail. We encourage guests to stir the drink with the skewer!" says owner Kristine van der Pas.


Mini beers with Macho Chocolate
The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI
The mini beers are actually a shot of vanilla liqueur--Spain's Licor 43--topped off with a dollop of cream, accompanied by a spicy chocolate bar flecked with chili peppers. The Henry Ford's bar, Mindo's Macho Rustic Chocolate, is a treat that's only available in select markets, but similarly macho chocolate bars can be found from craft chocolatiers around the country.


Champagne and elderflower liqueur with seared scallop and saffron coconut foam
Footers Catering, Denver, CO
Sweet, dry and balanced, this foodie-friendly pairing keeps things delicate and delectable.

Cotton candy Pop Rocks martini with homestyle chicken and waffles
Footers Catering, Denver, CO
It's comfort food with flair: try balancing brunch, happy hour and dessert all at the same time and you've got some fully entertained guests.


Caesar and Bacon
Tulips & Maple, Ottawa, Canada
The Caesar--a Canadian cocktail similar to a Bloody Mary--is made with a bacon-infused vodka and topped with a rim of bread crumbs and served with a bacon swizzle stick.

Originally published in Catersource magazine
July/August 2012

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