Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kissed With Cachaca Cocktails at Beso

I’ve been a fan of the food-and-cocktail pairings for a while. I love me some yummy food and I love me some yummy cocktails. A long-time resident of Los Angeles, I also love our yummy, celebrity-ridden, see-and-be-seen restaurants and bars. Roll these all
together into one evening and I’m sipping my way into Pop-Culture Paradise.

Needless to say, when Cabana Cachaca invited me to sample cocktails by Alex Straus – L.A. barman extraordinaire – paired with Latin-inspired delicacies designed by Executive Chef Todd English at Beso, co-owned with “Desperate Housewives” Eva Longoria Parker and one of the hottest hotspots in the ‘Hollyhood,’ I was excited!

Now, sometimes the places with all the hype in L.A. are style-without-substance. I admit a bit of skepticism as I wound my way over Laurel Canyon and onto Hollywood Boulevard. As the valet drove off with my car, and I stepped in
to the softly lit red-and-black eatery peppered with pretty people and dripping with enormous crystal chandeliers, I prepared my ‘mental notebook’ and switched on my bullshit meter.

Of course, I should have known that when Anthony Dias Blue is involved, its impossible to be disappointed. The charming Editor-In-Chief of The Tasting Panel Magazine knows his food, wine and spirits. Formerly an Editor at Bon Apetit with a James Beard award under his belt, he also knows a thing about restaurants.

Matti Anttila, founder of Cabana Cachaca hosted the evening in conjunction with Andy, and I got to learn a bit about Cabana. The company is only a few years old but already recognized as makers of one of the finest cachacas on the market and produced outside Rio by a Brazlian Master Distiller. (Fyi: the finals in their cocktail competition is coming up in Brazil. Stay tuned for more on that, at a later date.) In my experience, I’ve found Cabana to be a light, clean distillate, which mixes well in cocktails and is also nice with just a squeeze of lime and pinch of sugar, ie: my Soft Core Caipirinha.

For my meal, I selected the CraBLTA Tacos, a sexy little concoction of crab, mango, avocado and bacon, served in a house-made, deep fried taco shell. Uh huh. Decadent. Even more so when paired with Alex’s Cabana Cilantro Collins:

2 oz Cabana Cachaca
2 pinches cilantro

3 lemon wedges

3/4 oz. simple syrup

Shake, strain over fresh ice. Top with soda water.

Next I cheated and shared with the person seated next to me… I got the Chili-Rubbed Skirt Steak and she got the Jumbo Sea Scallops with tomatillo risotto, mulatto mole and mojito pesto. This course was paired with Poolside Punch:

1 3/4 oz. Cabana Cachaca
6 red grapes
1 ounce white wine

1 ounce fresh sour

Serve on the rocks.

Finally, for dessert, I chose the Hazelnut Flan served with malted milk sorbet, sour cherry marmalade and salted popcorn. Yeah, I know… yum. This sweet / sour / salty flavor extravaganza was lacking only one element… spicy… which came in the form of the Serrano Caiprinha:

2 oz. Cabana Cachaca
4 lime wedges

3/4 oz. simple syrup

3 slices Serrano chili
Muddle, serve on the rocks.

When you make it into Beso, be sure to belly up to Alex’s bar. Tell him I sent you and ask for one of these specialty drinks. Trust me when I tell you that you will like them so much, you’ll want to plant a big fat sloppy beso on him.

*Big thank you to fellow scribe and girl-about-town, Karen Loftus, who once again generously shared her photos when I (like a dolt!) forgot my camera. She is pictured above with Matti.


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