Even though there is still a thick layer of ice on Minnesota lakes, it is melting fast on the eve of the vernal equinox. Happy Spring indeed! There's an air of anticipation and excitement at local restaurants around Lake Minnetonka as they gear up for the spring and summer season.
6Smith Restaurant in Wayzata recently hosted Club Gourmand, a group of businessmen who visit local restaurants once a month to enjoy the chef's latest creations. I was invited by this month’s hosts (Thanks Isaac and Chad) as a special guest to talk about J. Carver Distillery and our spirits portfolio. I had the joy of working with 6Smith events coordinator Carly Clark and Chef John Mullen pairing two of the four courses with cocktails made with J. Carver Barrel Gin and our J. Carver Premium Vodka. It was an amazing afternoon of tasty food, delicious libation pairings and a wonderful group supporting local businesses.
The starter course delighted the senses. Chef John made a perfectly seared Diver Sea Scallop with Apricot Mostarda Red Mustard Greens, and Dijonnaise. Mostarda is an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavored syrup. The J. Carver Barrel Gin Old-Fashioned complimented this plate perfectly. The sweetness of sea scallops and apricot was balanced by the earthiness and depth of flavor of the red mustard greens dressed with dijonnaise and paired beautifully with the citrus notes, smokiness and layered flavors from the botanicals interacting with the char and tannins from the barrel. The result, harmonious layers of flavors between this starter dish and the tantalizing flavors of the J. Carver Barrel Gin along with the other delightful flavors from the cherries, bitters, and orange in the old fashioned. (recipe is on our website)
Rock Shrimp, Honey Aioli, Crispy Prosciutto, Melon, and Red Watercrest adorned the second plate and wine was paired with this dish, Bonny Doon Albarino. I was asked what cocktail I would pair with this amazing dish for an option other than wine. I would enjoy a Vesper with this dish. A spin on the Vesper would be to take an ounce of the Albarino with an ounce of J. Carver Lake House Vodka, an ounce of J. Carver Grimm Farm Gin. Shake and serve in a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The entrée, Grilled Hanger Steak, Porcini Mushroom Glaze, Snap Peas, Baby Carrots, and Spring Onions was paired with a glass of Rail 2 Rail Zinfandel with bright spicy acidity framing the red berry and pepper flavors in the wine.
Lastly, the Sweet Course was a Chocolate Torte paired with J. Carver Premium Vodka, served neat. When I first met with Chef John Mullen and had him taste our products, he said "This vodka is great neat! Let’s serve it up with the chocolate torte." Simply delicious.
Looking forward to the next pairing. Stay tuned friends and fans to #jcarverdrinks when we visit another fabulous Minnesota restaurant serving up J. Carver spirits! Cheers!