Disclosure: Alastair and I attended courtesy of Grey Goose and f4 Consulting.
A few weeks ago, Alastair and I found ourselves in Collingwood, climbing possibly the steepest stairs in Melbourne to Saint Crispin’s private dining room.
The way up wasn’t much of a problem, but I did have a slight concern about how we would fare on the way down, considering we were there for Taste By Appointment, an evening created by Grey Goose to explore our personal tastes through a dinner and cocktail crafting class.
(Spoiler: the way down was absolutely fine, because the night was all rather classy and quite educational.)
The event was hosted by Andy Wren, Brand Ambassador, who gave us some background on Grey Goose, as well as talking us through making our own bespoke cocktails and a discussion of taste and how it evolves.
Food started with an amuse bouche tomato plate, spanning three flavour areas: sweet, sour and bitter.
Sweet: Joe Grbac’s home grown tomato and watermelon salad with strawberries
Sour: Under ripe green tomato dressed with a lime and tomato consomme vinaigrette
Bitter: bitter tart of tomato with a salad of shaved radicchio and endive
The food was paired with a cocktail called Grey Goose Le Fizz, made with Grey Goose vodka, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, lime juice and soda.
After we’d had an opportunity to taste the food, we did a show of hands to see which amuse bouche everyone preferred. Alastair and I put our hands up for sour – although, I must say all three were spectacular – and it was interesting to see that the room was fairly evenly split over the three options.
We moved on to making our own bespoke cocktail, starting with the mini bottles of Grey Goose sitting on the table. I watched in amusement as the lady sitting across from me filled half of her glass up with vodka, and then – after taking a sip – realised that was far too much (no kidding!) and then had to fill it almost to the brim with soda water. It was hilarious to watch her try and balance it out with more and more stuff: sugar, bitters and garnishes.
In contrast, my cocktail was an exercise is simplicity: vodka, a few ice cubes, no soda, half a teaspoon of sugar, a twist of lime and a mint leaf.
The main course was Wagyu beef fillet and cheek, soy and roasted onion consomme, wakame and mushroom fricasse with Pacific oyster and sesame seed crunch. The whole thing just screamed savoury and umami, which was well done because the matched cocktail was…
The Grey Goose Umami Poulet – Grey Goose vodka with roast chicken, cherry tomato and carrot medley with Noily Prat stirred with a dash of thyme and lemon peel vinegar. Yes, a savoury cocktail, with the vodka fat-washed to pick up the flavours of the roast chicken.
How is this done? You just add a liquid (I assume in this case it would be melted roast chicken fat/oil) to vodka at room temperature. This sits for a few hours before being chilled until the fat solidifies. The fat is skimmed off and discarded, but the vodka keeps the flavours of the fat. Pretty neat, right?
Dessert was a stunning plate, with white and yellow stone fruit, vanilla panna cotta, and oat and almond praline – a mixture of different textures and sweetness levels.
This came with a cup of warm peach tea to sip, as well as…
A glass of Grey Goose La Poire, served slightly chilled. I must admit that I had no idea that Grey Goose even made flavoured vodkas, much less a pear flavour. It’s not something that I would normally seek out but wow, it was great. Very smooth and crisp with the aroma of pear (Anjou, to be specific) and surprisingly easily drinkable.
And finally, there was chocolate truffles – three kinds to stimulate our trigeminal nerves, the nerve in our faces that’s responsible for sensation and motor functions like biting and chewing. This nerve also helps us sense hot, spicy, cold, etc, and so the chocolates were coffee, mint, and chilli.
The evening has helped me articulate my own cocktail preferences (which was Andy’s goal for us for the event!). I definitely lean towards strong and sour, although I can definitely make an exception on that for the pear vodka.
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