Category Archives: Food and Wine

Project Botanicals – 30th June 2015

The distinctly different pop-up bar will pair expertly crafted gin cocktails, mixed by some of Melbourne’s best bartenders, with tapas-style dishes created by MasterChef judge Gary Mehigan.’ – This is what we were promised when we went along to Bombay Sapphire’s ‘Project Botanicals‘, which returned to Melbourne after a sell-out 2014 event. Boy, did it deliver. With 10 courses, each served with a cocktail inspired by one of Bombay Sapphire’s unique, hand-selected botanicals, this was truly an experience not to be missed.

Bombay Sapphire. The 10 unique and exotic botanicals inspired the menu and some very inventive cocktails. Image courtesy of projectbotanicals.com.au

The North Melbourne venue looked amazing, decked out in sapphire blue.  The tables were softly lit with candles and tealights inside Bombay Sapphire bottles, and decorated with a very cool botanical theme.

Table

The venue, awash with sapphire blue light.

Upon entering, we were treated to a fantastic aperitif – ‘The Smooth Star and Tonic’, made with Bombay Sapphire’s new super-premium gin expression, the ‘Star of Bombay’.

 

THE SMOOTH STAR AND TONIC

A blend of Fever-Tree tonic water and Star of Bombay served with fresh zested orange peel and ice. The stand-out was the Star of Bombay, which contains the 10 botanicals that make up the Classic Bombay Sapphire gin with the addition of bergamot orange peel and aromatic ambrette seed.

The twist of orange peel set off the bergamot orange and elevated this gin and tonic to something really special! Some of us in attendance were not previously big gin drinkers, but the general consensus was that this cocktail was fresh, citrusy and one we’d order again.

VERDICT: I’ll have another!

The Star and Tonic, made with the Star of Bombay gin.

The Smooth Star and Tonic, made with the Star of Bombay gin.

 

BOTANICAL No. 1: JUNIPER 

First course started very strongly. The dish was an incredibly tasty blue swimmer crab toast with pistachio nut dukkah, lime, and avocado cubes. The crab was soft, sweet and expertly cooked, pairing perfectly with the crunch of the toasts. The subtle flavours of the nuts and avocado complemented the crab and gave the dish a creamy, rich texture, while the acidity of the lime added a bit of tang to offset the richness.

The Juniper pairing of a Juniper Sublime G&T and Blue Swimmer Crab Toasts. Image courtesy of projectbotanicals.com.au

The Juniper pairing of a Juniper Sublime G&T and Blue Swimmer Crab Toasts. Image courtesy of projectbotanicals.com.au

The dish was paired with the Juniper Sublime G&T, made with Bombay Sapphire gin and Fever-Tree tonic water, served over cubed ice and with a fresh lime wedge. A fragrant and refreshing cocktail, this was the perfect palate cleanser for the creaminess of the dish.

Bombay Sapphire uses juniper from Tuscany, and the berries are harvested by hand to ensure the highest quality. This dedication to quality really shone through in this cocktail, with the taste of the gin itself at the forefront.

The Juniper Sublime G&T.

The Juniper Sublime G&T.

Overall first course was a very clever and moreish pairing that we wanted more of.

VERDICT: Would go back for seconds!

 

BOTANICAL No. 2: LEMON PEEL

After one taste of the second course, we knew this would be the one to beat.

The dish was one that raised a few eyebrows at first – crisp tostaditas with gin-cured king fish, flame roasted pablanos, sour cream and charred corn salsa. No one had tried gin-cured fish, so we wondered what we might be in for.

What we got was a beautifully fresh, extremely flavoursome and utterly delicious dish that was all too easy to eat. The fish was delicate and melted in your mouth, while the Mexican flavours of the sweet corn, spicy pablano and crunchy tostadita blended wonderfully with the sour cream.

The Lemon Peel pairing of a Lemon Collins and Crisp Tostaditas with Gin-Cured King Fish. Image courtesy of projectbotanicals.com.au

The Lemon Peel pairing of a Lemon Collins and Crisp Tostaditas with Gin-Cured King Fish. Image courtesy of projectbotanicals.com.au

The Lemon Collins cocktail was so good, it had gin-drinkers and non gin-drinkers alike agreeing it was one of the nicest cocktails we’d had in recent memory. A blend of Bombay Sapphire gin, fresh lemon juice, 1883 sugar syrup, Fever-Tree soda water and crushed ice, served with a dehydrated lemon wheel, it was like drinking freshly made lemonade with the added soft floral flavours of the gin.

Bombay Sapphire uses hand-picked lemons from Murcia, Spain’s largest lemon exporter. The lemon peel helps to ‘lift’ the other botanicals, which was never more evident than in this cocktail. In a word, sublime.

The Lemon Collins Cocktail.

The Lemon Collins Cocktail.

This course was so delicious, we wanted the recipes.

VERDICT: Gone in 60 seconds.

 

BOTANICAL No. 3: ANGELICA

Our first two courses had exceeded expectations and the third followed suit. The dish was excellent – a tartine of pickled and exotic mushrooms, garlic and parmesan custard, and parsnip crunch. The texture was as enjoyable as the taste – a truly decadent mix of crunchy crumbs, rich, smooth custard and silky mushrooms. The flavours were earthy yet mild, a cleverly constructed dish with a flawless balance of flavours.

The Angelica pairing of an Angelica Negroni and Tartine of Pickled and Exotic Mushrooms. Image courtesy of projectbotanicals.com.au

; The Angelica pairing of an Angelica Negroni and Tartine of Pickled and Exotic Mushrooms. Image courtesy of projectbotanicals.com.au

The Angelica Negroni cocktail was the punchiest drink yet. With Bombay Sapphire gin, Campari, Cocchi Torino. Antica formula, Cocchi Amaro and gentiane, served over Hoshizaki ice and with a dehydrated orange wheel, this cocktail was a fantastic mix of sweet, sour and a little bitter.

The root of the angelica plant used in Bombay Sapphire is harvested from the woodlands of Dresden. With an almost herbal flavour, it balances the the other botanicals with an earthy tone.

Angelica was the perfect botanical inspiration for this Negroni cocktail, and the pairing with the mushroom dish worked wonderfully.

VERDICT: For those who like a drink with a kick and a dish with every element!

 

 

 

Enjoying this post? Stay tuned for more!

Bombay Sapphire’s Project Botanicals is running until the 11th of July 2015, so be sure to get your tickets now! Learn more at www.projectbotanicals.com.au and don’t forget to pick up your bottle of Bombay Sapphire or Star of Bombay at www.jrdutyfree.com.au (Australia) or www.jrdutyfree.co.nz (New Zealand).

Food and Wine Pairings – Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon makes up some of the most highly prized wines in the world. Noted for its bold flavours which can include blackcurrant, cedar and mint, this red wine is full bodied, rich and complex. So with such an abundance of flavours in just the wine, what do you pair it with?

Cabernet Sauvignon contains large amounts of tannin (tannin is what creates that bitter taste, and can either come from ‘fruit tannin’ caused by the skin of the grape, or ‘wood tannin’ from the oak barrels the wine is aged in) and thus can be overwhelming to more delicate dishes. Steer clear of oily fish, sweet dishes, or watery vegetables. Such full flavours require a counterbalance to the bitterness of the tannin and the richness of the wine.

Full of bold, complex flavours, this elegant red is one of the most sought after varieties in the world.

Full of bold, complex flavours, this elegant red is one of the most sought after varieties in the world.

For vegetarians: Look for bitter vegetables, preferably grilled or roasted. Think roasted eggplant and Brussels sprouts, vegetable medleys with mushroom, onions and / or garlic, or arugula salad greens.

For fish fans: Fish is generally not a good match with Cabernet Sauvignon, but grilled tuna or swordfish can pair well. Good quality shark meat is an another option.

For poultry pairings: Opt for game birds such as duck or squab.

For meat matches: You’re in luck – red meat is the perfect accompaniment. Choose from slow cooked or braised pork, lamb or beef dishes, barbecue ribs, strip steak, beef stew, Morrocan spiced lamb, rack or leg of lamb, even venison or rabbit.

Sauces and spices: Add rich sauces such as red wine, peppercorn or mushroom. Fruitier options could include plum, huckleberry or black cherry. Try spices such as cinnamon, cumin, or coriander, while rosemary and thyme are classic herb choices. Onion and garlic are common yet satisfying flavour combinations.

For dessert: Stick with cheeses such as sharp cheddar varieties, aged Gouda or Comté (also known as Gruyère de Comté). If you must have chocolate, choose bitter flavours such as dark chocolate. A rich, semi-sweet dark chocolate cake with blackberry, raspberry or boysenberry elements can work as long as you limit the sugar.