Welcome to Ibiza!
It might look all fun and games , which it was, but it was also hot. Insanely HOT!
When we left the ship at 09.00 in the morning, it was already close to 40°C /104 °F – and not much shadow I might add.
Food pairing is can be tricky. It’s all about team work, and when you haven’t worked with the chef before, it can be difficult to get the perfect match. Chefs and bartenders alike, have their particular style when composing dishes or cocktails. It can be very subtile and gentle or it can be smack-in-your-face flavours. Either or, a successful food pairing is all about the sum of it’s parts – not the parts alone.
When arriving to the Blue Marlin Marina, we sat down and had a tasting of the food. We then selected our two dishes, to which we would create two matching cocktails. After that it was business as usual: 30 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to set up behind the bar and then 10 minutes to prepare and present out drinks for the judges.
For my first drink, I chose the oyster dish. I really enjoyed this preparation, which had carrot foam (if i remember correctly), lime, hint of chill and olive oil. I can’t remember the exact description, but this was the main flavour points. It was very flavourful, and although a little rich, finished off with the fresh, briny flavour of the oyster.
Since it was such a hot and sunny day, I imagined what I would enjoy drinking, and decided to make a spritz to acompany this dish.
30 ml Don Julio Blanco
15 ml Talisker 10
15 ml Aperol
Splash of soda
Grapefruit and orange slices
Build with ice in a large wine glass.
In hindsight, I should have used more sweetener or maybe some fruit juice to give it more body. It didn’t stand up to the food quite as well as I had hoped.
For my second drink, I went for one of the deserts. The Citrus Explosion, which had segments of fresh citrus fruit (grapefruit, orange), some kind of crumble and a foam, which I unfortunately can’t remember the flavour of.
I wanted to make a stirred drink for this course, since I always enjoy more spirited drinks towards the end of the meal (had this been a dinner).
30 ml Ron Zacapa
10 ml Rosso vermouth
10 ml Campari
10 ml DOM Benedictine
1 dash grapefruit bitter
1 dash orange bitter
Stir over ice, strain into pre chilled old fashioned with ice. Zest the orange peel and serve.
This pairing was much more on the spot, and I was very happy with the feedback from the judges, both on the cocktail itself and the pairing.
After the challenge, we went back to the ship, ready (or not) for the second elimination.
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All images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images