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  1. #11
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    Re: Helen Cromwell quote

    Many times I have enjoyed a thick filet mignon accompanied with a Pappy 20yo. In fact, this is one of my favorite meals. I think to enjoy bourbon while dining you must match the bourbon to the food you are eating. A nice, well aged, full bodied, slightly oaky bourbon pairs well with most red meats. On the other hand, a nice spicy, slightly hot OGD pairs well with a plate of nachos or buffalo wings

    Actually, bourbon is my drink of choice for really spicy foods. You scientists correct me if I'm wrong, but capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers their heat, is soluble in alcohol, not water, and the higher the ABV of your drink, the quicker the sting subsides. I like drinking beer with spicy foods, but beer is mostly water. I remember one night after consuming some habanero chili I thought I was going to die till I took a half a shot of GTS and rinsed it around in my mouth . There was an initial sting from the addition of the bourbon, but in a few moments most of the heat from the chili had dissipated

  2. #12
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    Re: Bourbon with steak

    Combining whiskey and food, where whiskey is an accompaniment to the meal or used in the cooking, is a relatively new idea; this is so in Britain, certainly. Whisky Magazine from the U.K. has an ongoing series where contributor Martine Nouet, appropriately a Frenchwoman, suggests interesting ideas to combine cuisine and whisky. Until recently in Britain whisky was regarded as something to be taken between meals as a bracer or tonic, or before bedtime. This made sense in the cool damp climate of Northern Britain before the modern economy when most people worked outdoors and or worked and lived in buildings not centrally heated. People also engaged in strenuous outdoor sports such as shooting and riding and the silver whisky or brandy flask was a stand-by of such affairs. Scotch whisky was not even served before meals (as a cocktail U.S.-style) until recently and even then it hasn't really taken on. A few years ago I ordered whisky in the Reform Club in London before dinner. The rest of my party, all English, remarked that whisky before dinner was unusual and normally one would have sherry or maybe gin and tonic. Probably today (albeit only three years later) the scotch aperitif, and likely the equally U.S.-inspired "glass of white wine", is more acceptable than it was. But the point being, whisky was and is not consumed during meals in Britain. As for all "rules" there are established exceptions. One is to drink whisky with haggis during Robert Burns dinners. Another is, or was, to drink scotch and water with the cooked English breakfast (the full affair of eggs, bacon or other meat, mushrooms, grilled tomato, toast, etc.), no doubt taken at leisure at mid-day on a lazy Sunday.

    I am not as familiar with practices in the U.S. but would think the situation, except for the pre-dinner cocktail, is similar, i.e., whiskey generally is not consumed with meals. There are no doubt exceptions here too, e.g., I have heard some Southerners speak of "Kentucky tea", being a cold whiskey highball taken before and with meals. No doubt many families or regions have their own particular practices in regard to food and whiskey. The cocktail party was and is an exception in that sufficient food is (or should) be served to help absorb the alcohol, although a cocktail party, even the best, is not a sit-down dinner of course.

    Like a lot of practices, they change with the times and fashions. It is a good idea to regard whiskey and food in the same breath in part because eating food with whiskey tends to encourage a more responsible attitude to drinking. Second, many interesting combinations can be thought of and this seems largely a "do it yourself" area where personal inventiveness sets the tone. Personally, I find more and more a cocktail or two before dinner is enough and I like to eat the food plain, but I can see that many whisky and food combinations (Martine Nouet has many good ideas) can be fun at least for special occasions.

    Chuck and I were talking specifically about ham and whiskey and in fact, the combination seems generally a good one.

    Gary


  3. #13
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    Re: Bourbon with steak

    Combining whiskey and food, where whiskey is an accompaniment to the meal or used in the cooking, is a relatively new idea;
    Thank you both for your very interesting and informative comments. I must admit that I was not taught the practice of drinking whiskey with a meal, nor have I really read specifics about it. I don't even really remember when I started doing it with regularity. At home, I probably have whiskey during a meal every one to two weeks, usually coinciding with a choice to grill part of the evening meal. If we go out to dinner, though, I almost always get a whiskey to enjoy during the meal.

    I never thought about whiskey as a complement to bacon. Might make an interesting brunch experiment sometime.

    I haven't been there for a couple of years, but a local Chinese restaurant carries both WT 101 and Old Grand Dad 86. I found that both of these went okay with their sesame chicken.

    After reading all of your wonderful insights, however, I am still left with one question: Am I avante garde or gauche?


  4. #14
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    Re: Bourbon with steak

    Thanks for your reply. Eating steak with a bourbon cocktail or highball is certainly not gauche. It may, however, be avant garde. What is the avant garde but people who do what seems right for them (without slavish regard to the received practice or current fashion) only to find in a short while that they have set the tone and others follow them..?

    In fact, I believe the current "whiskey renaissance" (phrase courtesy Chuck Cowdery's excellent current Bourbon newsletter) is not due to anxious sub-editors working in big city cubbyholes trying to create the next big thing in drink (much less whiskey copywriters, ad consultants, etc.). Rather, we can look to the activities of consumers or writers who are interested in something they view as genuine and pursue their interest to the point (sometimes) of making others take notice. I believe Jim Butler's great little whiskey forum right here has had something to do with the aforesaid renaissance, in fact. It takes sometimes only a few mouths' buzzing to create, or reinforce a budding, interest; others will try something different who are not captive to common notions or silly prejudices.

    In food, I learned a lot from the late English writer Elizabeth David. Her luminous works are still widely available in Penguin, and I recommend them highly. Ditto the late British food historian Alan Davidson (especially his recent Oxford Companion To Food). In drink (everything except wine and brandy), a key influence was Michael Jackson, especially his 1988 World Guide To Whisky which is a classic, full-stop. Elizabeth David wrote an essay in the early 1960's called "Whisky In The Kitchen" (reproduced in the collection, "An Omelette and a Glass of Wine") which explained in her droll inimitable style why there was no reason not to use scotch instead of brandy to flame dishes and otherwise in cookery. All these people followed their own lights (with the benefit of knowledge, experience and reading, of course). They did what they thought appropriate in their chosen area of interest or work whether it had precedent or no. They encouraged me to be intrepid in the areas that interest me, but (as with the old saw that white wine goes with fish and red with meat) much of the received wisdom is valid too. Some experiments just won't work.

    The idea of drinking diluted whisky with a brunch-type breakfast is one of those old practices that has a certain logic to me, I intend to try it soon (on a Sunday!). Come to think of it, Kentucky ham and (genuine) English bacon resemble each other quite a bit. (This is an example, I believe, of the old British influence still at work in the South. Another example: the biscuits I had at Tom Pig's in Bardstown recently which recalled certain scones and griddle breads of modern Scotland). So the Bourbon whiskey that is the renown of Old Kentucky and indeed America surely would accompany well its best cured meats, just as scotch matches up well to British ham and bacon. In fact, that is what Helen Cromwell said apropos Old Fitz and ham on biscuit (there's a good old English name, Cromwell) as per one of the current threads on this board; she figured it out a while ago, evidently, and wasn't shy to say so.

    Gary

  5. #15
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    Re: Helen Cromwell quote

    Actually, what is served ubiquitously at parties in Kentucky is country ham on tiny buns, about 1 1/2" in diameter, as opposed to beaten biscuits. There usually is some mustard present, but it is quite unnecessary. I believe the salt-cured ham tradition came to Kentucky via Virginia so I would expect it is available in your area. One traditional way of fixing country ham is to boil the slices in coffee, which then becomes the base for red eye gravy.

  6. #16
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    Re: Helen Cromwell quote

    Many times I have enjoyed a thick filet mignon accompanied with a Pappy 20yo.
    Thanks, Jeff, for letting me know that an individual with your bourbon expertise and enthusiasm finds bourbon and steak such a natural combination. Although I would like to think I'm avant garde (you're too kind, Gary), I like validation as much as the next guy!

    But, my real question is: If I ever happen to pass through your town around supper time and pick up a couple of nice filets to grill, will you break out the Pappy 20?

  7. #17
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    Re: Helen Cromwell quote

    Thanks, Jeff, for letting me know that an individual with your bourbon expertise and enthusiasm...
    I will admit to being very enthusiastic

    If I ever happen to pass through your town around supper time and pick up a couple of nice filets to grill, will you break out the Pappy 20?
    But of course But you better hurry, I am halfway through my last bottle and there is no more 20 to be found in these parts As a consolation, if you bring a slab of pork ribs I'll pony up some Eagle Rare 17yo

  8. #18
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    Re: Helen Cromwell quote

    Dave, somehow you just reminded me of one of the greatest meals of my life.

    I can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was a cellar in downtown Cincinnati. It was connected to a highly regarded French restaurant upstairs and the cellar restaurant was supposed to be a British-style affair.

    The meal was thick, grilled pork chops served with baked sweet potatoes (or, yams, if you prefer). This was accompanied by huge mugs of Bass pale ale. Awesome!

    Tim

  9. #19
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    Primo Pork Chops

    I'm glad I fascilitated a fond memory!

    Your post reminded me that I'm still looking for the perfect bourbon + pork combo. Honestly, so far, JD is the best pork + American Whiskey combo in my opinion.


  10. #20
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    Re: Helen Cromwell quote

    La Maissonette?

 

 

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