Here is a column from the WV Gazette-Mail about a Tamarack dinner I went to (you can read more about my take on the food here):
Some things just go together: peanut butter and jelly, chicken and waffles, Worcestershire-rubbed brisket and a stiff drink.
The pairing helps to complement and enhance the taste of the dish, bringing out the best flavors in each component. The same goes for local businesses in Appalachia.
Tamarack, which showcases the best of West Virginia through art, food and experience, recently partnered with Eastern Panhandle distillery Bloomery SweetShine to pair local foods with local drinks in a dinner that not only allowed the best flavors of each dish and drink to shine through, but also showcased the incredible culinary talent we have in West Virginia.
“I was at an event where Bloomery SweetShine had a booth set up, and I could sample some of the SweetShine. And they just all worked so well,” said Jamie Henderson, executive chef at Tamarack in Beckley. “The label on those bottles is exactly what it tasted like, and I knew it would be great to pair food with.”
Henderson contacted Rob Losey, co-owner of Bloomery SweetShine, and they constructed a boozy dinner that paired creative Appalachian cooking with delicious drinks — a collaboration that stretched beyond the kitchen.
The evening’s first course was a roast chicken consomme with wild mushroom garlic gnocchi, summer squashes and late summer tomatoes. The dish was paired with Bloomery’s Ginger SweetShine, as well as a Dark and Shiny cocktail.
“The best part of that was the Ginger SweetShine had this bright, strong flavor, and we created this clarified soup with egg whites that lets the ginger complement, but the dish had to be strong enough to stand up on its own,” Henderson said. “Plus, there was a little carbonation in that ’shine, so it cleansed the palate for the next course.”
The salad course featured grilled romaine, artichoke, caper berries, Nicoise olives and a creamy paprika vinaigrette. It was paired with Raspberry Lemon SweetShine and a Raspberry Lemon Cosmo.
“We had some strong flavors in this course because of the grilled romaine, the artichokes, the caper berries — all bold flavors that need downplayed, so the refreshing Raspberry Lemon SweetShine, that citrus, helped tone down all the bold, smoky flavors,” Henderson said.
The entree course was a Worcestershire-rubbed brisket with honey mead barbecue, sweet potato puree, Johnny bread and bitter buttermilk slaw. It was paired with Black Walnut SweetShine and The Jonas SweetShine cocktail.
“We rubbed the brisket down with some dehydrated Worcestershire sauce and cold smoked the brisket for three hours and finished it with a little bit of stock and braised it in the oven, so it had the aspect of smoke like a barbecue brisket, but also tender like braised brisket. Best of both worlds,” Henderson said. “That, plus the sweet barbecue and sweet potato puree and the strong, bitter buttermilk slaw, those needed something that could take the edge of the strong flavors, which is why the Black Walnut SweetShine worked so well. It helped tone it down and create a better balance.”
The dessert course was an applewood-smoked bacon and praline torte paired with Cremma Lemma SweetShine and an Appalachian Cream cocktail.
“The most interesting dish for me was the fourth course because we paired on accordance of texture, rather than flavor. The praline torte has this crumbly pie texture, and the Cremma Lemma SweetShine has cream in it, so you get that creamy texture — it’s almost like getting a cookies and cream or a pie and milk texture. It worked really well,” Henderson said.
The flavors, the colors and the textures paired together seamlessly for one tasty meal, but the evening, for me, was about more than that.
It was about two businesses pairing to promote one another, which, in turn, promoted the unbelievable talent of West Virginia.
Just like a mellow drink highlighting the strong flavors of a smoky, sweet barbecue and buttermilk slaw, when two businesses in West Virginia work together, they highlight the best parts of each other.
Tamarack’s skilled chefs would not have shined so brightly had it not been for Bloomery SweetShine’s inventive cordials. Bloomery SweetShine would not have had the kind of exposure without Tamarack’s commitment to promoting the best in West Virginia.
Both businesses brought a different audience to the dinner table and expanded each other’s reach — which serves us better as a whole. These two partnering together brought out the best in one another, showing the absolute best of what we have to offer as a state.
West Virginia has a wealth of culinary talent, and I, for one, am happy it’s on display for the rest of the world to take notice.
Some things do just go together. Me and a fork. Barbecue and SweetShine. West Virginia business and West Virginia business.
Candace Nelson is a marketing and public relations professional living in Morgantown. In her free time, Nelson blogs about West Virginia food culture at CandaceLately.com. Find her @Candace07 on Twitter or email Candace127@gmail.com.
4-6 pounds trimmed beef brisket (approximately 1/8-inch fat on top)
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon salt
¼ tablespoon black pepper
½ cup beef stock
hickory wood chips soaked in water
Combine the Worcestershire seasoning, salt and black pepper and thoroughly rub the mixture on the beef brisket.
Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
Set the smoker temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and add soaked wood chips.
Set the unwrapped brisket in and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit and reduce the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. The total cook time will be 8 to 10 hours.
Place a fork in brisket to check for tenderness once it reaches an internal temperature of 185 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can move the beef around with little resistance, then it is ready to be removed from the smoker.
Tightly wrap the brisket in foil with the beef stock and place in a warm holding for 1 to 2 hours.
Slice the brisket against the grain and brush on the leftover beef stock on the brisket or use for Au Jus dipping.
(Recipe from Chef Jamie Henderson’s third course of the Bloomery SweetShine Pairings Dinner.)
The Jonas SweetShine Cocktail
1 ounce Black Walnut SweetShine
2 ounces small batch bourbon
dash of blood orange bitters
turbinado sugar to taste