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food and wine pairing

Tips for Great Food and Wine Pairing Recipes

Great food and wine pairing recipe are a menu that allows guests to easily enjoy complimentary high-quality food and wines. It can be any type of menu, too. And how it occurs varies greatly. It may mean: pairing one particular wine with one particular dish. It may also mean: pairing two wines together.

Food and wine pairings can have a big impact on the flavor and texture of whatever dish you pair them with. If the wines complement one another well enough, then the food will also benefit, too. The flavors will meld and flow harmoniously, resulting in a delicious meal that people will undoubtedly love. It’s just that simple. However, not everyone knows how to pull it off. Here are some simple guidelines.

The stronger the wine, the sweeter the food

Let’s start with the basics. There are three basic tastes found in wine or food: sweet, bitter, and acid. Sweet tastes are usually described as floral, while bitter tastes are usually described as meaty. There are other subtle variations, but those are the most common.

Sweet foods have a soft texture and delicate flavor. Examples include fruit desserts like apple pie or puddings made with cream cheese. These foods have a lot of sugar and don’t go very well with strong food types. Conversely, bitter foods have a sharp, bitter taste. Examples include beef stew or fish dishes.

The rule of thumb when it comes to food and wine pairing is: the stronger the wine, the more sweet the food must be. For example, red wine in a dish with chicken can overpower the natural sweetness of the chicken. So you would pair red wines with milder meats and cheeses.

When paired with certain foods, the sweetness is actually subtracted from the overall flavor, giving an overall feeling of less vibrant flavor and richness. Sweet wines can come through as simply sweet or as over-the-top with the highest levels of tannin.

food and wine pairing

Acidic food and sharp wine

Next, let’s look at acidity. In food and wine pairing, acidic food will enhance the flavor and fullness of the wine. A sharp, bitter flavor can be brought about by acidic food. Some of the most popular examples of acidic foods include garlic, onions, cabbages, tomatoes, asparagus, bell peppers, and pineapple. On the flip side, an alkaline wine like a zesty Vardon or Merlot will counteract the sourness of acidic foods.

Finally, let’s look at acidity and clarity. These are related to one another but play major roles in matching flavors with wines. Clear wines have light, crisp tastes, whereas foods with a greater amount of acidity have a fuller body and deeper, earthier flavor. For example, tart apples matched with a crisp, light Riesling will almost seem alive because it has that earthy taste.

There are three basic tastes you can pair with each vintage wine, and it helps to know which flavors evoke that feeling in the palette. The first one and simplest to describe are sweet. Food and wine do not have to complement each other in order to be a good match; they should be complimentary. Commonly used terms for describing this taste are fruity (i.e. apple, raspberry, orange), crisp, dry, and rich. Tons of acidity or bitterness are also considered to be characteristic of sweet wines.

Bitter food

Food and wine don’t always have to complement each other, they can instead go well together if they have a different taste profile such as acidic and spicy or herbal and woody. A lot of people will describe their flavors this way.

Lastly, there’s the bitter flavor profile. This is one where the wine has a very distinct flavor that simply makes the dish taste less like the dish would without the wine. For example, eating garlic instead of potato soup, or fish instead of beef stew are examples of this. It can also come from tart or salty foods and wines, so if you pair food and this type of wine, you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a dish that does not go well with the other. So if you want to find a complimentary wine pairing, think about what kind of flavor profiles you find in the dish you’re preparing; that way you’re much more likely to come up with a dish that goes well together.

Practice, practice, practice

So now you’ve got your basic knowledge about the basics of pairing food and wine. What’s next? Simple! Practice what you know! Match different foods and wines and keep tasting until you’re happy that you’ve found a drink that enhances each dish and compliments the other without being overwhelming.

a girl eating in bed

How to Start Mindful Eating?

What is mindful eating? This may sound like an easy enough concept, but it is anything but that. Mindful eating takes you to accept and acknowledge the emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations you experience without judging them. It can even extend to the act of eating it and preparing, buying, and serving the food as well.

People refer to mindful eating as a state of enlightenment. It is a practice in which you allow yourself to experience the ingredients, sounds, smells, and tastes in all their natural forms without holding in your emotions, thoughts, or senses. This practice can be practiced by anyone. Even if you are the quiet type who prefers to do things without judgment, you can benefit from mindful eating. You will come to appreciate the nourishing goodness of natural ingredients and the subtle changes they make to your experience. You will no longer feel guilty for enjoying the foods you eat.

Identify when you are full

The first step in mindful eating is learning to identify when you are full. By keeping a food log, tracking your eating over a period of a few weeks, or a month or so, you can see when you are satisfied and when you are still hungry. This will help you avoid overeating, which has often been linked with overeating in the form of obesity, which is often characterized by a feeling of constant hunger.

Manage your emotions

Another way to enjoy the benefits of mindful eating is to learn to manage your emotions. Anger and depression are often closely linked with overeating. If you can learn to cope with these negative feelings, you may not experience cravings as often. But even if you do not experience cravings, you might become aware of how other people’s emotions make you feel. This awareness can help you become more self-aware and can teach you how to change your eating habits to help reduce your cravings.

a bowl of different fruit

Consciously choose foods

You can also learn to eat mindfully by consciously choosing foods. Instead of automatically picking a plate of chips because you are hungry, choose an all-fruit smoothie instead. Or choose a veggie burger rather than a fried one. And try to pick up a new recipe for foods you usually avoid because you are afraid it will be too hard or time-consuming to prepare. For instance, making a spinach bisque sauce is very easy, but is definitely not something you might run into on a Friday night.

If you want to feel better emotionally and eat better, you should start a program called Emotional Eating by John Davenport. Davenport uses a series of spoken exercises and stories to help people overcome their negative emotions and fears around food. He believes that emotional eating is a major contributor to the weight problem and that a large number of overweight people have an emotional eating problem. Davenport has taken years to research this problem and has come up with some valuable tips and advice to help people break free of emotional eating.

The biggest tip Davenport gives is to start paying attention to your feelings and emotions rather than focusing on what you are eating. If you are watching tv while you are eating dinner, you may be distracted by what is being said on the TV. Instead of focusing on what is being said, focus on the actual experience of feeling hungry. With enough awareness, you will find yourself not only noticing your own thoughts and emotions but also the feelings and emotions of others as well.

A useful trick

Another great technique for mindful eating is to take one piece of raisins, crack it open and chew it thoroughly. The raisin must be chewed without distractions. The more you focus on what you are eating, the more you will realize when you are intentionally eating food or when you are not aware of what you are eating. This simple mindful eating technique can give you a new perspective on food and help you lose weight.

Cocktails and Food

Expert Guide: Cocktails and Food Pairing Essentials

Pairing food and drinks is one of the essential skills every experienced bartender should possess. While this is an art and a science that are taught around the world in the most prominent bartending schools, keep in mind that it takes time, trial and error, and plenty of innovation and experimentation for you to develop your personal style and your unique way of pairing food and drinks. That said, when it comes to cocktails, things start to get more complicated.

Every aspiring bartender can learn how to pair wine with cheeses and appetizers in general, but given the fact that cocktails boast unique flavor tones and that they can be composed of numerous ingredients, pairing them with food can seem like a daunting task. After all, it only takes one wrong ingredient to ruin the entire experience, which is why pairing cocktails with food and devising the right cocktail for the occasion is a nuanced art form.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you learn this skill if you are to become an amazing bartender that bar owners, professional caterers, and clients will fight to book for their events. That’s why today, we’ll be taking food and drink pairing to a whole new level, by giving you the essential rules to pairing cocktails with food and how to innovate new flavors for every occasion, along with some actionable examples to help this information stick. Let’s get to it. 

Match the flavors of the cocktail and the dish

Matching cocktails with food might be an art, but the majority of artwork can be broken down, analyzed, categorized, and given a scientific framework. In other words, you can’t just pair the cocktail with the food, you have to analyze every ingredient to figure out if the individual taste notes it brings to the experience match the dish in question. You can also reverse the process and analyze the dishes on the menu to see if their ingredients match the ingredients of the cocktail. Remember, you have the option to innovate cocktails and food for the occasion, but if you’re just starting out, it’s better to work with something that already exists.

We’ll touch on the subject of contrasts in the next segment, but for now, let’s stick with matching flavors and nuances. Obviously, you can use sweet and light cocktails to complement a desert, for instance, but you have to be mindful of the alcohol content (stick around to learn about that as well) and the amount of sweetener you’re going to put in both. Use the same mindset for savory, zesty, and heavy flavor groups.

Depending on the nature of the gathering, you will want one of the two to be the accent, and the other to be the backdrop. For example, if you’re organizing a cocktail party, then the cocktails should boast the accent flavor, while the appetizers and spreads should add to the experience with their subtle notes – and vice versa.

Cocktails and Food

Use the cocktail as a strong yet delicious contrast

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the contrasts. Typically, it will be the cocktail that will serve as the contrasting accent, because you wouldn’t want the food to surprise the taste palate – your cocktails should achieve that “wow” effect, because after all, you are a bartender. With that in mind, start by analyzing the body of the drink, and the type of food that you’re supposed to serve. If you are working with heavier foods (meats with starchy carbohydrates and vegetables, for example) then go ahead and serve a light, slightly-zesty cocktail to make the meal a bit lighter as well, and allow your guests to stay refreshed and feeling energized.

Following a similar mindset, a good contrast to a light lemon-basil and ricotta spread would be a good old Martini, or a Manhattan better yet – the bitters interlaced with whiskey and sweet vermouth will make the dish a bit heavier and enhance the taste. If you are making spicy food, then be sure to contrast the base flavor with a light cocktail like a French 75, which will perfectly contrast the spiciness with its refreshing lemon zest and a hint of cooled gin.

Don’t be afraid to innovate flavors

The sooner you start stripping cocktails and dishes down to their base ingredients, and the sooner you start analyzing all of these subtle flavor notes, the faster will you become an innovator in your field. Sure, people love to see the tried-and-tested cocktails and dishes on the menu, but if you want to leave your mark as a bartender, then you should have a few cocktails in your repertoire that are purpose-made for a specific dish, or a set of entrees. This is something that every aspiring mixologist needs to learn how to do nowadays, because bars and event managers are looking for innovators as much as they are looking for people who know the traditional recipes by heart. 

Whether you are based in an overly-competitive market like New York or not, you mustn’t be afraid to innovate flavors. Now, there are a few steps to this process, so tend to the following:

  • Create a theme for the event, and know your audience.
  • Gather the individual ingredients that you believe go with the theme.
  • Make a list of well-known cocktails and dishes that you have to have on the menu, and set it aside.
  • Use the dishes as the foundation for your new cocktail recipes – the cocktails need to match or contrast these flavors.
  • Start experimenting with different ingredients, making sure to note down even the slightest of differences with each ingredient you add to a drink.
  • Keep in mind that this is not a one-person job. Gather your friends and family for a taste test, but don’t forget to invite a couple of your professional colleagues as well.
  • Compare your notes with the feedback they give you, and don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board.
  • Remember to give yourself plenty of time for this process, because you can’t hope to innovate cocktails two nights before the big event.

Cocktails and Food

Complement the dish, don’t overpower it

When you’re trying to enhance the flavor of a dish, meaning that the dish is the foundation of the experience and the cocktail serves as a subtle accent, you must remember who is in charge – the dish, not the cocktail. This means that the drink needs to retain a supporting role, so it’s flavor must not overpower the taste of the dish itself.

For example, you wouldn’t want to serve a cocktail that is heavy in its whiskey notes such as a Highball or the overly-complex Vieux Carre with something that has a very specific note such as oysters, but you would want to serve such a cocktail with a good steak. Remember, let the food influence the flavor of the cocktail, not the other way around. Otherwise, you’ll ruin a perfectly good steak.

Make a cocktail more interesting with aromatics

When in doubt, use more garnish. That was obviously a joke, but there is some truth to the fact that aromatics like herbs and accents such as olives and onions, lemon and orange slices, and the like can help you make a cocktail more interesting and memorable without actually adding any more ingredients. This is a good way to stay on the safe side when you’re innovating, for example, because you wouldn’t want to add an ingredient that will ruin the dining experience.

Instead, you can simply add a raw garnish to the drink, or you can muddle the herbs together to infuse their notes into the base of the cocktail – and by extension, the dish itself. You can also experiment with proprietary aromatics such as sprays and tinctures to achieve the desired effect. 

Cocktails and Food

Pair regional ingredients in cocktails and food

Typically, but it’s not a rule, regional ingredients tend to work wonderfully when paired in cocktails and dishes. An obvious example would be a tequila-based cocktail paired with a mole sauce dish. Both originated in Mexico, so their common geographical origin gives them a complementary taste note – not just literally, because guests will love knowing the fact that you are using regional ingredients. 

This is a simple yet effective way to pair cocktails and food, but also to innovate when you know that you have to come up with new cocktails for a themed party, or a seasonal party, like a summer cocktail event, for example. With that in mind, be sure to research the region, and try to use ingredients native to that part of the world.

Don’t go overboard with the alcohol content

Last but not least, as a great bartender, your objective should be to inspire everyone to have a great time, not to get wasted. The goal here is to let people enjoy themselves and try as many of your wonderful creations as they can, but without actually ending up under a table in an hour, which is why you need to know when someone has had enough and advise them to try some water for a change. But that’s not all you should do.

As a good bartender, you need to control the alcohol content of every drink. The alcohol in the cocktail is there to give it its unique flavor, not to make it a hangover bomb. If the organizer is serving a five-course meal, and there is a cocktail for each, then your job is to make them as light yet memorable as possible. The easiest way you can control the amount of alcohol people consume, is to serve your cocktails in two or three ounces. 

Wrapping up

Pairing food with certain drinks may not be that difficult, but pairing food with cocktails can certainly be a challenge even for an experienced bartender. Take the time to digest all of this information and don’t be afraid to experiment and innovate, and you should have no problem becoming the bartender that everyone wants for their event.