When it comes to pairings, inspiration is like a chain of events. The origin of it all is the dish itself. Delving into particular components of the dish takes me across paths of secondary and tertiary pairings. The result is something that is intended to be paired with a very particular dish, considering all of the components. Techniques that chefs Noah Sandoval and Genie Kwon implement to prepare and serve the food are sources of inspiration. Current wine and beverage pairings act as inspiration, my sounding board.
Dewatsuru Junmai Nigori Sake is the inspiration for one of the pairings, which triggered me to learn how to make Amazake, a nonalcoholic beverage made from rice, water, and koji.
A trip to Rare Tea Cellars to see Rodrick Markus inspired some components, as well as pairings that influenced the dish in return. I appreciate Noah’s eagerness to truly bring the food and the drink together. In some cases, there will be a component of the dish that is only included with the nonalcoholic pairing.
The beauty of these spiritfree pairings, is that each component is a crucial element. It is not a game of mix and match, it is precise and purposeful pairing. The beverage is made for the dish with the intent of it being delicious on its own, while becoming something more after each bite of food. It is the difference of being born together, rather than married later.