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Social’s Small Batch Bourbon Dinner

Feb 12 2014

by Jay Ducote

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Small Batch Bourbon Dinner at Social in Lafayette. The southern table and bar themed restaurant invited me to be their guest for the evening and experience chef Marc Krampe’s creations as well as some world class whiskey.
The meal started with George T. Stagg and seared foie gras. A bourbon aged at least 15 years from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, the Stagg clocks in at a walloping 137 proof. This bad boy is tough to drink straight but if you do it’ll put some hair on your chest. With a few dashes of water it really starts to open up with rich flavors of tobacco, cherries, and luscious charred oak. The seared foie gras with bourbon infused cherries proved to be an ideal counter to the strong whiskey which could cut through the fatty liver. Served with frisse, honey infused creme fraiche, and smoked trout roe, the dish got us off to a great start.

Our second course, came with the Black Maple Hill bourbon, which isn’t actually a distillery itself. They instead source their whiskey from other distilleries and release a different batch each year under the Black Maple Hill label. This particular whiskey, rumored to be from the Heaven Hill distillery, did not come with anywhere near the firepower of the Stagg. A fair amount tamer, I could sip it straight and pick up some nice hints of honey and cloves. It worked very well with the Asian inspired seafood option of the night: filets of wood fired anago, which is actually eel, atop a puree and sprinkled with spiced hazelnut dust and puffed sushi rice. The textures took the dish to another level with sweet, smoky, smooth and crunchy all combined in every bite.

Seared Foie Gras, House Smoked Trout Roe, Honey Creme Fraiche, Bourbon Infused Cherries, Frisee

Seared Foie Gras, House Smoked Trout Roe, Honey Creme Fraiche, Bourbon Infused Cherries, Frisee

Brick Oven Anago, Spiced Hazelnut Dust, Puffed Sushi Rice, Kinome

Brick Oven Anago, Spiced Hazelnut Dust, Puffed Sushi Rice, Kinome

The real superstar of the evening came next. Well, the food version, anyway. And the whiskey wasn’t bad either. The Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye is another whiskey out of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection. The rye is bold and spicy with many of the cinnamon notes that you want in a rye. Apple pie on the nose and fire on the tongue, it is easy to see why the Handy is such a sought after bottle. To counter that spice, chef put together a very contemporary twist on a homestyle dish. The lamb neck bourguinon featured succulent and tender shredded lamb meat atop a puree of charred celery root. To add to the dish in the the very traditional way, chef threw in some fingerling potatoes that were wonderfully cooked in fat and dusted in salt, along with a mushroom oil and carrot foam. Yes, a carrot foam. Most likely a carrot infused cream that then went through an iSi whip. We’ll be doing stuff like this at an upcoming Triumph Kitchen pop-up dinner, if you are interested. The flavors and again the textures all worked extremely well in the bowl of deliciousness. This is modern comfort food at its finest. I want more. Now.

Lamb Neck Bourguinon, Charred Celery Root Puree, Confit Fingerling Potatoes, Mushroom Oil, Carrot Foam

Lamb Neck Bourguinon, Charred Celery Root Puree, Confit Fingerling Potatoes, Mushroom Oil, Carrot Foam

Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year

Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year

The meal concluded with the real prize of the whiskey portfolio. The Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Straight Kentucky Bourbon. This is pretty much the mecca of bourbon out there right now. Getting a bottle is like winning the lottery. Seriously,Calandro’s Supermarket had a raffle to decided who got the right to purchase one of two (2) bottles they got allocated this year. And they were lucky to get the right to sell those two. Pappy 23 tastes like what a bourbon should taste like. Vanilla, oak, sweet corn, subtle spice, balance, complexity… it is all there. It is overproofed but it drinks fine neat. It isn’t wound up too tight that you need to loosen it up before you can drink it. It is like driving a luxury car of the liquor world… you realize the hype when you get behind the wheel. When the whiskey hits your tongue, you know it is special. Sure, it is excessively hyped and there are other bourbon out there that are really good and not as hard to find. Some of that hype is worthy though. Most of it is due to scarcity and trendiness. But still, it is insanely good. As was the dessert, for the record. To compliment a lot of the tones of the whiskey, the sweet caramel dessert with fruity figs partnered wonderfully with the amaretti cookie crisps that provided a nice crunch. All in all, great whiskey, and a tremendous meal. Next time they do a dinner like this, you don’t want to miss it!

Creme Caramel, Fig and Baby Walnut Compote, Amaretti Cookie Crisps
Creme Caramel, Fig and Baby Walnut Compote, Amaretti Cookie Crisps

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