The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2011

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farms. Combine that with the local wine scene, and it’s a home run! The heirloom tomatoes, beets, etc., that I procure every summer are unrivalled in my opinion. Not only are they phenomenal products but they travel under an hour to our doorstep. B.A.: Chef Myles, what have you learned from butchering your own meats? If it’s a simple, less refined style (think worm in the bottle), then it needs to be dressed up for the dining room by any means necessary, which can mean strongly flavored ingredients that will help cut the heat: sweet tropical fruit, umbrellas, etc. However, complicated cocktails often ruin the finer examples of great spirits by masking their photos by michael Poehlman Myles: Last fall I realized that the next logical step was procuring whole animals (pigs, lambs, steers) locally and butchering them myself. Whole-animal butchery makes sense environmentally, spiritually and financially. The heritage pigs I deal with are superior animals to the IBP bulk loins and tenderloins that most of the world uses. Utilizing all of these animals has decreased Stella’s footprint on the environment, challenged my creativity as a chef and exposed our guests to unique cuts and preparations. At the end of the day, it makes my soul feel good to show the ultimate respect to these animals, and to celebrate them wholly. Most impor- tantly, they taste superior. B.A.: Amanda, how do you approach mezcal in a cocktail? Amanda: It depends on the mezcal. Heritage Yorkshire-Duroc pork loin with house made Nduja (spicy, spreadable salami famous in Calabria) with tomato relish and fennel pollen. -ity individual virtues. I generally craft cocktails using only those spirits that rank in this latter category; therefore, like to keep it simple. I key in on the main characteristics of the base spirit, then select ingredients to enhance it. And, it has to look good. The smoki- ness in the Del Maguey Chichicapa for instance jumps out at you. I want that to persist in the final cocktail, so my other ingredients have to work with it and cannot overpower it. B.A.: What would you both consider the most balanced tasting tequila/mezcal dish and cocktail pairing? What should be avoided? Amanda: What grows together often goes together, and with tequila and mezcal, I think of pork prepared with simple equatorial flavors and ingre- dients. Also, pork takes well to both salt and smoke, which are common characteristics in fine examples of both spirits. Spice is okay, but don’t overdo it or you won’t taste anything—restraint THE DRINK: Collo di Cavallo While having nothing to do with a traditional Horse’s Neck cocktail except for the spiral and bitters, I like this version because it really honors the mezcal while present- ing it in a very sexy way. Blood Orange rind is so beautiful with its variegated shades of crimson and orange. Collo di Cavallo is simply Italian for Horse’s Neck. Then there is the—perhaps not so obvious—Godfather reference, but we thought Testa di Cavallo a bit too grim for our hospitable dining room. —Amanda Danielson Recipe: Place a spiral twist of blood orange in a short glass. In a shaker tin, stir with ice two ounces Del Maguey Chichicapa single village mezcal with two dashes of orange bitters. Strain over a spiral. is key. High-acid fruits like tomato and citrus work well. Avoid anything with cream or a lot of melted cheese. Texturally, you’ll end up with some- thing like fresh cement on your palate and have to go running for a beer. In my opinion, the American tendency to turn everything into a big cheesy mess really undermines the nuance of every other ingredient in the dish. Myles: I generally pair spirits with cuisine from climates and regions that reflect where those spirits originate. I chose pork with a spicy southern Italian sausage from Calabria to pair with the mezcal. B.A.: Give me a grocery list of items that bring tequila or mezcal to life. Myles: Fresh citrus: lime is the obvi- ous, but lemon, blood orange, grape- fruit—most work well, even pineapple, especially if it’s grilled. Salt : sea salt or kosher salt, never iodized. Something sweet for smokier styles: honey, agave nectar, even maple syrup—Michigan of course—but in minute quantities. The syrup left over from candying citrus. Tomato: think Bloody Maria, salsa, etc. may 201 1 / the tasting panel / 121 p i t a l

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