NEW YORK, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Culinary flavors and pairings new to the American palate are bubbling up with great vitality, due to a splash or a dram of inspiration from the Scottish Isles. Diageo announced today a new section devoted to pairing its world renowned single malt Scotch whiskies, the Classic Malts Selection(TM), with foods on www.malts.com for the U.S. audience, available to registered Friends of the Classic Malts (FoCM), an easily attained status with a free registration on the site. The innovative pairings demonstrate why this newly revealed culinary vista releases the Chardonnays, Shirazes and Merlots from their reign of this part of the culinary world.
Distinguished British cookbook author, restaurant consultant and former chef, Richard Whittington, served as the creator and consultant of this 'horizon expanding' project, one that set out to focus not only on the versatility of foods, but on the remarkable food pairings with the vast profiles of the Classic Malts Selection's single malts. The new Flash-powered section, brought to life with stunning food photography by Adrian Burke, lures visitors into browsing greedily among taste combinations with eight whiskies available in the United States from Diageo's Classic Malts Selection(TM).
Pairings include Blue Cheese with the powerful and smoky Lagavulin(R) from Islay; Talisker(R) from the Isle of Skye with smoke haddock tart and calves liver and sage with Oban(R) .
Pudding combinations include sure-fire winners such as bread and butter pudding served with frozen Dalwhinnie(R), the heathery malt from Scotland's "highest, most remote distillery."
Another section gives full printable recipes for some 30 dishes that work well with malt whiskies, including Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, English and, of course, Scottish dishes. The recipes range from the familiar (Cheddar tart or chocolate mousse) to the more detailed (Crispy duck spring roll), but all are designed for home cooks rather than professional chefs.
Visitors can also select combinations to match the whisky, they type of dish and the national culinary style.
A third section challenges wine lovers to "put their preconceptions to one side and make some sensational taste discoveries" by planning complete meals where dishes are matched sensitively to single malt whiskies.
Four-star, critically acclaimed US Chef Cornelius Gallagher, formerly of Oceana in New York City and now Executive Chef with high-end caterer Sonnier & Castle, ruminates on the possibilities of pairings. "The most important aspect of my cooking is quality and I look for the same when I am pairing my foods with accompanying drinks. Quality is always the common denominator. As my palate has matured over the years, I have grown to appreciate the subtle nuances of a quality single malt scotch; the Classic Malts selection lends itself to pairing with fine cuisine."
For starters, Gallagher suggests a splash of smoky Talisker over his chilled East Coast Oysters with Marinated Cucumber Dill or he suggests sipping Oban while enjoying smoked eel and bluefin toro sushi or completing a meal by adding a dollop of Cragganmore Creme Fraiche over his signature Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with mandarin orange and crystallized violet.
"Each of these combinations calls out the essence of the food while enhancing the subtle tastes of the single malt, making each blend distinctive," according to Gallagher.
According to Whittington, author of eight books on food and cooking including the best-seller 'Keep It Simple', a book widely regarded as an essential work by chefs and private cooks alike. "Good food is about good taste. It's a delusion - fostered by some sommeliers who won't try anything different - to think that wine is the only possible partner to good food. Just as some wines achieve a perfect marriage with some dishes, while others quarrel from the start, so some fine malt whiskies deliver a transcendent partnership with certain foods. You just need to keep an open mind - and to have a good range of different malt whiskies to play with, as exists in the Classic Malts Selection."
The Classic Malts Selection website, a relative newcomer for the US audience, is quickly gaining recognition for its easy-to-navigate and user- friendly features. In a spirits category that can be intimidating to the newly christened single malt Scotch drinker, and even to the aficionado, the content of www.malts.com befriends and then educates consumers, putting them at ease about single malt facts.
The brand has been officially recruiting "Friends of the Classic Malts" (FoCM) for 10 years through the free membership channel that has served the Classic Malts Selection's permission-based relationship-building communications with fine malt whisky enthusiasts around the world. The FoCM area is populated with exclusive content, including recent Quaich newsletter articles. The stylish newsletter, The Quaich, is full of information about distilleries, malt whisky history and personalities and the mysteries of peat, barley, distillation and maturation.
The Friends are also regularly offered opportunities to buy exclusive special bottlings not available on the open market. Seasonal mailings offer advice on which malts to select as gifts, food and whisky combinations, and opportunities to win exclusive prizes.
For those anxious to try a pairing even before visiting the site, a few recommendations follow:
Clynelish(R) -- good as an aperitif; well worth trying with salmon
Cragganmore(R) -- suggested with sausages and meat pies
Dalwhinnie(R) -- goes particularly well with chocolate cakes and other chocolate desserts, especially if served chilled
Glenkinchie(R) -- often enjoyed as an accompaniment to sardines and works beautifully with Parmesan cheese
Lagavulin(R) -- delightful with a fine Roquefort cheese and crackers
Caol Illa(R) -- all expressions go particularly well with duck
Talisker(R) -- enjoy with smoked salmon, kipper fillets, grilled smoked mackerel and oysters on the half shell
Oban (R) -- is lovely with chicken satay or even with crystallized ginger
Or, enjoy one of the following recipes from Chef Gallagher, the first for an adventuresome home-chef; the latter for those a bit less daring, but still in search of great taste:
Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Crystallized Violet, Mandarin Orange and Cragganmore Creme Fraiche Yield- 4 persons Ingredients 3/4 Cup Heavy cream 1/3 Cup Whole milk 7oz. Bittersweet chocolate 1 large egg, slightly beaten 4 3" partially baked puff pastry shells 12 Mandarin orange segments 2 Tbsp. Crystallized violet petals, crushed (available at www.parisgourmet.com) 3 Tbsp. Creme Fraiche 2 Tbsp. Confectioners sugar 1/4 cup Cragganmore Whiskey 8 Mint leaves, torn into bits
In a medium saucepan, bring cream and milk to a simmer. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is thoroughly mixed. Let cool to room temperature. When cooled add the egg and whisk until completely incorporated
Pour batter into baked pastry shells. Bake for 12-15 min in center rack at 375F. Filling should be firm but still trembling in the center. Remove them from the oven and place them in the refrigerator. Chill for 2 hours, until completely set.
In a small pot, heat the whiskey. Tilt the pot and flambe the whiskey. When the flame completely dies down, remove from the fire and chill. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar and the creme fraiche until thick. Slowly drizzle in the reduced whiskey. Chill.
In the center of each tart, garnish with the mandarin orange, the crushed violet petals and the Cragganmore Creme Fraiche. Sprinkle each with the torn mint and serve at once.
Chilled East Coast Oysters with Marinated Cucumber, Fresh Dill and Talisker
Whiskey Yield: 4 persons Ingredients 12 East Coast Oysters (ie: Belon, Wellfleet, etc.) 1/2 organic hothouse cucumber, peeled and minced 2 Tbsp. Piquillo pepper, minced 2 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar 3 Tbsp. Spanish Olive Oil 1 tbsp. Minced Dill Sea Salt and white pepper to taste 1/4 cup Talisker whiskey
In a small wooden bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and white pepper. Add the cucumber and piquillo pepper to this mixture, toss and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Open the oysters over a sheet tray and remove them from the shells. Pour the oyster liquid through a fine strainer. (you will need this liquid later) Rinse any sand off of the shells and return the oysters to them. Return the oysters on the half shell to the refrigerator.
Remove the marinated cucumber mixture from the refrigerator and flavor it with the oyster liquid. Spoon a bit of the marinated cucumbers on top of each oyster. Splash each one with some Talisker whiskey. Serve chilled over ice, at once.
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