Match of the week
Singaporean food and cocktails
Last week’s standout pairings were all about cocktails - first at a dinner at Avenue to celebrate the World’s 50 Best awards taking place in Singapore next year and then a meal at the newly launched Kym’s the latest restaurant from the much-fêted Andrew Wong about which more in due course.
Although I think wine can handle Asian flavours there are dishes where cocktails work better, the only problem being that they take as much work as the dishes which they’re designed to match.
I doubt if many of you could construct the Oolong cocktail that was invented by the Singaporean cocktail bar Native for example (a sake lees distillate and 4 day old oolong kombucha), never mind the utterly delicious Passionate from Miles Away from Operation Dagger. This was a weird and wonderful concoction of pandan, passionfruit mead, oxidised wine and burnt butter that was designed to go with a equally delicious dessert called My Interpretation of Kaya Toast* of pandan (which my spell check keeps on wanting to change to panda), coconut, gula, muscovado and pineapple. Still, that’s what you go to restaurants - and possibly fly to Singapore - for.
So is that even remotely useful to you? Well I think - and hope - it is in just the same way as you can be inspired by the combination of flavours in a complicated dish you have in a 50 Best restaurant, you can pick out the key ingredients in a cocktail and try them in a simpler drink back home. Cocktails handle ice cream and sorbets better than wine does for a start and are less strong than neat spirits or even liqueurs
You can buy pandan juice and flavour extract online (The French company Monin also makes a pandan syrup) and obviously passionfruit juice and syrup too though I generally prefer the latter fresh.
The key to pairing cocktails with food is to work out if you’re looking primarily for a savoury or sweet accompaniment - though cocktails usually have a touch of sweetness - and sometimes, as with the ‘nogronis’ we had at Kym’s, a touch of bitterness too.
It takes pairing to another level but if you’re feeling as creative in the home bar as you are in the kitchen it can be a lot of fun.
* a favourite Singaporean snack food made with coconut milk jam
I attended the dinner as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board.
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