Three’s a Crowd

white choc

White chocolate and caviar

As sometimes happens when everything is going along fine, I had a great idea, I started investigating it, and was so utterly amazed and horrified by what I found I spent the next week hiding under my desk, fending off intruders with a paddle ball toy. In this case, it was the concept of food pairing.

Food pairing, or ‘foodpairing’ as it is known by the shadowy people who run your life, is the concept that matching certain flavour components in different foodstuffs will create brand new flavour sensations. At this very minute there are very well funded teams of experts using dedicated gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers to bring you ever closer to ultimate snack nirvana. Isn’t that nice of them?

We’d better pray heroin never becomes legalized. Again. Imagine what Monsanto could do with a market like that.

Food pairing, in the more benign sense which was the basis of my great idea, is the matching of one ingredient with another ingredient to create a sensation that is surprising and ultimately rewarding. It’s what chefs do when they are feeling creative instead of efficient. Some chefs I know like to do this by smell, and the results are usually wondrous (smell being a much more sensitive sense than taste). I like to do it by trial and error.

Back when I was 35, I planned a 36 course dinner for my 36th birthday. This never happened. Yes, I am still 35. And now I realize 36 courses are a dumb idea (who said being 35 twice doesn’t bring wisdom?). Late the other night, though, I had a brilliant idea: a food pairing party! (This was before I looked up the concept of ‘foodpairing’ on wikipedia and was creeped out by how seriously people with large stakes in the industrial sector take this shit.)

The rules of such a party would be very simple:

1.) You do not talk about the food pairing party.

2.) You do not talk about the food pairing party.

3.) You are allowed to talk about the food pairing party as long as it’s praise and will get more people reading my blog.

4.) Each micro-course will consist of two ingredients paired together.

5.) The courses will be very, very small. That’s why I said ‘micro.’

6.) Processed ingredients are permissible, e.g. toasted nori, chocolate truffles.

7.) Given rule (6), the ingredients should be as simple, recognizable in their unique identity, and unadulterated as possible.

8.) The best and most unusual pairing wins.

So here is where I need your help. You can respond to me here, or on Facebook, or in person, but please respond! I need many, many different pairings to pull this off. So far, I have come up with:

Are you prepared for this?

Are you prepared for this?

Dried Shredded Squid and Fish Tale Ale

Dried shredded squid is a bar snack common in Asia and Hawaii. The basic idea is that it is salty, which makes you want to drink more beer (hey, it’s more interesting than peanuts). I envision a single thread of dried squid and a single 2-oz shot glass of ale.

Caviar and White Chocolate

The original weirdo combination that sparked the entire concept of food pairing, invented by Heston Blumenthal, chef of The Fat Duck in England.

Smoked Salmon and Caper Butter

Salmon and capers are a match made in heaven. There will be no crackers allowed. That would make it food trioing.

Chocolate and Orange

A timeless classic. A single mandarin slice, dipped in chocolate and frozen.

And that’s as far as I’ve got. Suggestions please. I might even invite you to the party.

21 comments to Three’s a Crowd

  • razldazl

    cow poop and kool aid?

  • razldazl

    beard shavings and whipped cream?

  • razldazl

    cat vomit and sauteed spinach?

  • razldazl

    kibble and bits…and bits and bits???

  • I’m not sure there are many ideas left after kibbles and bits.

    lemon mash and peanut butter?

    Mmmm…. how about a pat of butter with a cranberry stuck on it.

  • Marshmallow and wasabi (I envision putting a small hole in one end of a marshmallow and filling it with wasabi paste)

    Strawberries and soy sauce (just marinate the berries, don’t cook them)

    Mustard greens and hot dogs (wrap chunks of the latter in pieces of the former and steam)

    Cheddar cheese and raisins (Not sure how to best combine them)

    Please note that I have not tried any of these as yet. I’m interested to see what other ideas you get.

  • That Guy

    OK, this is not really a single food pairing… it is more of a Food Pairing wiki-ish thing.

    http://www.foodpairing.be

    I still have not been able to actually put this site into practice yet. I only found it yesterday. Hope it can give you some help.

  • WarPig

    Champagne and blond caviar are a match made in heaven.

    Peanut butter and apples are good, as is peanut butter and sharp/aged cheese.

    Apple pie, warm, with a slice of sharp cheddar melted over it.

    Galiano over butter-pecan ice cream.

    Frozen, whole strawberries glazed in Galiano or a Galiano-dark chocolate glaze (would that last be considered a trio?).

    Strawberries dipped in caramel.

    Champagne and orange juice, 50/50, makes a great cocktail.

    Peanut butter and honey is another classic.

    Sprinkle cinnamon on your pizza before adding Tabasco. Try it, it’s very good (at least I love it) or would that again be a trio?

    Crush Apple Jacks cereal in a blender or processor and sprinkle it over various foods. Applesauce, pineapple and peanut butter work well.

    Fried bologna and peanut butter sandwich.

    Fried kippers on reheated pizza.

    Fried spam and apple jelly.

    Mint liqueur (with or without alcohol) in applesauce.

    Dissolve atomic red hot candies in rum or vodka.

    Bacon flavored vodka. Much better than it sounds. Here’s where you can find the recipe:

    http://www.yesbutnobutyes.com/archives/2008/01/baconflavored_v.html

    Thickened Jack Daniels (thickened with honey or molasses) as a glaze or syrup or dip. Great over ice cream (for adults only).

    Honey & whiskey homemade cough syrup.

    151 rum and Tabasco, 50/50 and drank while flaming. We called it “Napalm”. Advisable to wet down or smear Vaseline in your mustache first. ;-)

    All I can think of while yawning, time to go back to bed. And yes, my lady says that I am crazy and will put anything between 2 slices of bread and call it a sandwich.

    So I like peanut butter and sardines with horseradish, jalapeno jelly and bread & butter pickles on pumpernickel? Who doesn’t?

  • WarPig

    Forgot to say that dried squid also goes well with an English Stout such as Old Speckled Hen. Not as good with an ale such as Heineken. I like dried squid and my lady does NOT. Never tried it with Guinness.

  • Great suggestions! Keep ‘em coming!

    ThatGuy, that is an awesome wiki. I’m going to waste a lot of time on it.

  • Orv

    Sharp cheddar and just about any dried fruit. Personal favorite is apricots.

    Ritz crackers and applesauce. OK, yeah, it’s lowbrow, but it also tastes just like apple pie.

  • Lauren

    Persimmon and goat cheese
    Passionfruit and creme anglaise
    Pomegranite and gingersnaps
    Honeydew melon crepes

    Miss you at BnB Dan!

  • Luke

    Candy corn and dry roasted salted peanuts, about 4 to 1 peanuts to candy.

  • WarPig

    @Orv – Yeah, we used to make mock apple pie from cider or apple juice and Ritz crackers.

    @Luke – Never tried candy corn and peanuts. Had some left over candy corn from Halloween and I always have various roasted nuts around. I tried it and I really did like it. Thanks.

    @Daniel – Pairing foods and tasting them together with a woman can be a very sensual experience. Especially if you feed each other. Ever see the feast scene in the movie Tom Jones?

  • MadCalicoJess

    Boiled quail eggs with a shot of lapsang tea.

    I went to a potluck one time and was served tomatoes that had been tucked into the freezer until super cold but not frozen and then sugar was sprinkled on top. Maybe tomatoes with a drizzle of honey/maple syrup/agave syrup?

    In a “Singapore Cuisine” restaurant I once was served an appetizer of peanut boiled with anise and sugar (sweet n low so it’s wouldn’t burn). You could skip the sugar and boil them just with the anise.

    Sour cream & brown sugar.

    I was recently introduced to amla/Indian gooseberry. I got a bag of whole dried. The taste in itself is quite interesting, but when you drink some plain water after the water tastes sweet!

    Olives stuffed with anchovy.

    Ice cream with mole sauce. (Not sure if would count, as both have lots of ingredients.)

    Dark chocolate with candied ginger.

    Bacon wrapped quail.

    Cashew/almond butter with apple.

    Figs stuffed with goat cheese.

    Licorice tea and …Raspberries?

  • Joal

    Cheese and honey.

    Chili and chocolate.

    Steak tartare and anchovy.

    Strawberries and balsamic vinegar.

  • Human

    Dill pickles and red licorice. You can chop them both finely and sautee them in butter. It’s even better with garlic dills but I suppose that’s too many ingredients.

  • WarPig

    Sweet pickles and Tabasco sauce. Pour it into the pickle jar and let sit in the back of the fridge for a week. A zesty companion for sandwiches.

  • Okay, I randomly encountered this blog of your, let’s not belabor how,idly perused it for a moment, and ran into the opening paragraph of this entry.

    That opening paragraph was almost perfection. I’ve now bookmarked the blog and decided to make this comment before I read the rest of the entry.

    I’m sure to be disappointed, that’ll be hard to top.

    I’m now going to read the rest of the entry, but you should know I’m going to feel quite vulnerable until I manage to find myself a paddle ball. I blame you for this.

  • Now that I’ve read the article:

    Cherry (or grape) tomatoes, hollowed out and stuffed with goat cheese make great hors d’oeuvres. I saw a few other fruits and things suggested with goats cheese, perhaps a variety of goat cheese pairings for your guests to try.

    Also, if you have access to something similar: a vendor at one of the Farmer’s markets near my home sells amazing fresh goat cheese made with various herbs. (They have an amazing lavender/lemon that tastes almost like ice cream & you wanna just eat t with a spoon, but i digress…) I don’t think a simple herb infused goat cheese would sacrifice too much of your purity of concept. (The lavender lemon might be a bit much, just as it’s so counter intuitive. Tho’ I bet it would kick ass on some figs… I know it’s great on dates.)

    In any case: fresh goat cheese, if you can get it.

  • Hi Rob Noxious, thanks for enjoying. Goat cheese is a must. Our farmer’s market sells a great goat brie, of all things. I was thinking of hollowing out cherry tomatoes and filling them with vodka (mini bloody marys!) but goat cheese is a better idea.