Food and wine are perennially partnered – and the perfect match can add up to a course greater than the sum of its parts. But look beyond wine and there is a world of fun to be had with partnering drinks and food. The rise of the “beer sommelier” has been gaining momentum in recent times, with many high-end restaurants now taking their beer selection very seriously indeed, but what about cocktails? Surely the rise of the gourmet cocktail lends itself to food matching as much as a good wine or beer?
With this in mind, we challenged Bruno Loubet and his team at the award-winning Grain Store – with a bar overseen by cocktail guru Tony Conigliaro – to create a bespoke menu of matched cocktails and canapés to serve over the festive period. Oysters with beef and horseradish jelly, Death in Venice, Wild mushroom choux buns - take note and your Christmas knees-up will be better than ever.
There will be many waking up to sore heads and dry throats in this month of plenty – let’s call it over-enthusiasm (to be kind). Bruno Loubet, however, will not be one of them, explaining to Great British Chefs that “I never get drunk. I don’t think I’ve been drunk in my whole life”. Nevertheless, this potent combination from him is sure to liven you up after one too many, with a heady Bloody Mary served alongside a suitably extravagant canapé of oysters, beef and horseradish.
“I come from the Bordeaux region and there, around Christmas, we eat oysters with what we call Crépinette which is a pork mince flavoured with truffle,” Bruno Loubet comments. “The mince has a wonderful coarse and spicy flavour, almost like a Toulouse sausage, and it is pan-fried and served with the oysters. It seems surprising but the meat and the earthy flavour of the truffles go very well with the oysters.
“I was also influenced by the consistency of the oysters which have a slightly gelatinous texture. I decided to pair my oysters with a meat gelatine. In particular I chose beef because you can achieve a beautiful clean flavour. I topped it off with a little Port and sherry vinegar and some freshly grated peppery horseradish. These four flavours come together beautifully.”