Friday, March 09, 2007

A rum tasting dinner






Something completely different tonight! Despite all the fun things I like to cook, we do like to go out to dinner occasionally :) On this occasion, Elliott's Oyster House here on the waterfront in Seattle had a special dinner to match rum with seafood. Well, being a salty sailor, that was an invitation I just could not resist! Plus, I was interested in how they were going to balance the alcohol of rum, consumed straight, with food. That can be a real challenge, just as matching high-alcohol wines to food can be. (Oh, and there was the small detail that I learned to drink rum 30 years ago this summer, drinking Mount Gay Rum in Barbados, and the Mount Gay rep was due to be at the event....).

First, they matched a dry-cured sugared salmon with Mount Gay Extra Old. There was a lot of spice in the salmon, which while subtle when you just ate the salmon, blew you away when you took a sip of the rum. It was like the sweetness in the rum just cancelled out any sweetness in the salmon, and you were just left with the heat. The texture on the fish was great, but I am not sure that leaving all the flavor for the heat when you drink the rum was the best thing. But it was an interesting experience.

I should say right now that I did not take pictures, but a well-known food blogger, Ronald Holden, was there, and he did, and he will have his own take on this event. That would be at http://www.cornichon.org/. He will probably have a much more thorough review than I do, as it's something he does for a living. But he was kind enough to share some of his photos of the event with me, so the photos you see here are courtesy of Ronald Holden. In fact, I should digress and say that the diners gathered for this event were fun, and from all over the map. Of course that is part of the fun of things like this!

Second course was scallops topped with what they said was a Bajan (from Barbados) pigeon pea soup seasoned with coconut. While it did not remind me of anything I ate when I was in Barbados for five weeks, it was quite tasty. But it was odd to have a "soup" used as a topping - it was more like a thick sauce. I can say that the Appleton Estate Extra Jamaican Rum served alongside was a nice accompaniment.

The third course is the one I am most conflicted about. They served an eight-year-old Bacardi with seared ahi. The Bacardi was very high in alcohol and so wasn't really a match for any food. I understand that the hosts were trying to progress from younger rums to older, but I could have done without having to deal with a mainstream producer like Bacardi who brought nothing to the party. (Personally, I would have preferred Bacardi Black to the Reserva.) However, the ahi dish was beautiful and I enjoyed the flavors of the rice-stuffed cabbage seasoned with sugarcane that came with it, it was a nice contrast to the jerk seasoning.

Course four was where we got an real winner: Pecan-crusted mahi-mahi with a banana/habanero chutney. Wow, this was incredible. Fish cooked perfectly, chutney a great match. The rum served alongside, a Pyrat XO Reserve-Planters Gold was great, almost a cognac. We loved that rum. However, the hosts talked about the next course before we sere served this one and mentioned that the Whaler's Original Dark Rum we would be served with the next course had a lot of banana flavor. So I ran off to the side and asked for some of that, thinking that it would be good to taste it with the complimentary banana flavors in the salsa. Boy, was I right. That was a marriage made in heaven!

Fifth course, running out of steam a little. Mako Shark Vindaloo. The shark was a little dry, done as a grilled filet slice instead of as a stew. But the flavor was nice. I didn't care for the texture of the grilled plantains -- they didn't seem to have been parcooked before grilling, so the starch seemed a little underdone. But who in Seattle is supposed to know how to cook plantains?

Finally, dessert. A Cafe Diablo with Sailor Jerry rum. Flavors are good, but the drink suffers from trying to serve 22 people at once, and it's not quite hot enough. The "Tropical Paradise" -- a "rum-soaked dacquoise layered with raspberry blood orange fruit mousse, white peach mousse, and apricot rum glaze" is very tasty and light enough to follow all of the the previous courses. I clean my plate...yum, yum.

Well, after all that food and rum I need to go to sleep. (In fact, after all that rum I'm surprised I can even type!) Back tomorrow with some more adventures, like tomorrow night is our first "couples" cooking class. In the meantime, wishing you all tasty dreams....

1 comment:

Cornichon said...

Pleasure to meet you at the rum dinner, Shelly ... I've misplaced your card, rats ! I'll send you a photo for your post if you send me your email address. Many thanks,
Ronald (aka Cornichon).