A blended culinary brunch with Debe and David
Many are accustomed to food and wine tasting. But what happens when food meets rum? For Cutting Edge Gourmet and Appleton Rum Jamaica, it’s a palatable pairing that not only excites and delights with one sip and bite, but ignites gastronomic euphoria.
Last Sunday, specially invited socialites travelled to cool, cool Mandeville for an enchanting afternoon of culinary prowess and rum-tastic excellence. Adorned in fabulous fashion, guests made their signature struts, meeting and greeting the likes of the gracious host, Debe-Ann Lange Chen, artistic director and principal of Cutting Edge Gourmet. Once-Senior Blender of Appleton Estate Rum, David Morrison, arrived on the savoury scene, the merriment was taken up a notch.
The tropical oasis nestled in lush greenery, exuding beauty and inspiring relaxation, set the spirit free for the most epic soirée. Coffee, teas, water, and a tropical fruit juice were available for those who wanted to start their morning on the right note. But those ready to kick-start the party did so with floating appetisers. The conch fritters with imperial sauce ambrosia was paired with the golden mojito reserved blend. Now the fritters, amazing on their own, were amplified by the lime and mint in the cocktail. Those elements, combined nicely with the rich orange peel, the nutty notes and subtle spice of the rum, created harmony with the imperial sauce and the fritter. Guests also dipped into the curried jackfruit in a fried wonton. This was also available in curried chicken. From there, food aficionados and experts sat down to five more courses.
Introductions and formalities aside, guests were invited to note how different each dish paired with each drink would provide a different awakening to their taste buds’ experience. Those in attendance anticipated the sojourn into the decadent world of food meets rum.
First up: the poached salmon escabel with a dijon mustard sauce, served with mixed greens topped with a strawberry vinaigrette was paired with Stormy Valley, made from Appleton Estate Signature Blend. Now this was subtle spicy yet fruity combination. The Dijon mustard sauce and the spiciness from the ginger was beautiful. But the magic was in the orange peel note of the Appleton Estate Signature Blend coupled with its subtle dried fruity character with hints of peach and apricot. That created a wonderful combination with the strawberry vinaigrette, adding even more complexity to the dish.
The dynamic duo which followed savoury suit proved to be the most challenging of them all. Debe gave David the ultimate challenge. Anyone could pair chicken, pork, beef, or even fish with rum. But what about egg? David rose to the occasion, placing the mushroom-asparagus frittata with cheesy whole-grain biscuits with the epic, created from Appleton Estate Reserve. The aim was to balance the light and air nature of the dish with an equally light spiciness of the drink, since the cocktail mix’s key ingredient is coconut water.
Third time was truly the charm for foodies as this pair was a match made in heaven. The brined pork with coconut coleslaw, sweet potato jerk fries was paired with reserve the heat. This contrasting yet complementary combination of flavour came together to play a perfect palatable orchestra. The beautifully prepared pork is given a bit of spice and heat not by the spices added to the meat, but from the spiciness of the Appleton Estate Reserve Blend and the Scotch bonnet peppers in the cocktail. Guests were then invited to indulge in a palate cleanser: a balsamic watermelon bite.
By the fourth course, they cooled things down with the churrasco with chimichurri, grilled shrimp, cilantro ginger potato croquettes, served with grilled okra with spicy chipotle dressing was paired with the classic Joy’s Cocktail. Spice for spice, the spicy nature this dish married the spicy notes of the Appleton Estate Reserve Blend to a happily ever after. Then that beautiful oaky honeyed taste complemented by the aromatic bitters added to the cocktail offered bold sophistication with each taste.
Then to sweeten the deal, the chocolate mousse brownie cake, chocolate truffles with a cocoa dusted sweet cream was paired with both the old fashioned and 21-year neat – 21-year and Rare Blend. Demonstrating versatility at its finest, the dessert done in two ways were most deserving of two rums. The chocolate in the brownie matched exquisitely with the toasted oak, cocoa, and vanilla notes of the Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12-year-old in the Old Fashioned. This was topped off with the beauty of orange oils from the zest of the orange peel.
And for the real rum lovers, the sweetness of ‘death by chocolate’ compensates for the heavenly finish of the deep vanilla, nutmeg, coffee, and cocoa notes of the Appleton Estate 21-year-old.
With appetites satisfied, balanced with a sophisticated high, Debe and David thanked everyone for coming. And it is David’s hope that persons walking away from this experience look at rum as a premium spirit.