Last week we headed over to Rum & Sugar in Canary Wharf for another of our favourite rum and food pairings. This time we were seen to by Alessio, the head bar manager, and Krystian, the bar manager. This time, instead of Alessio picking some rums and heading to the kitchen and asking the chef to come up with a matching dish, the challenge was for Krystian to match existing dishes on the bar’s new menu with a rum from the wide range on the back bar, wine sommelier style.
Naturally, we kicked off with a cocktail though, an Overseas (Matusalem platinum rum, violet liquor, Martini extra dry) and a Parsley-tini (Santa Teresa Clara, elderflower liqueur, lime, agave syrup, passion fruit and parsley).
On to the food and with a new chef comes a new menu, Caribbean-inspired throughout the starters, mains and sharing platters. Our starter was the crayfish, avocado, lemon, dill and creme fraiche on olive bread (and wild rice, pomegranate, avocado, broad bean, baby corn salad for the one of us with a shellfish allergy). This was paired with St Barths Cool, which we were instantly pleased about from a tasting point of view as our last pour was at a Rumfest years ago.
It’s an agricole, most likely distilled on Guadeloupe as St Barths has no distilleries. It’s an open fermentation from cane cut as freshly as possible and after distillation is rested in stainless steel before dilution and bottling at 50%. On the nose it is zesty and citrussy and a touch of salinity, while in the mouth it’s much sweeter than the nose suggests, very smooth, and no afterburn given the higher abv. The magic stuff happens when sipped after the starter, however, with a lengthier and harsher finish, brought about by the interactions between avocado and alcohol. Apparently pistachios have the same effect, especially with cognac. The saltiness in the rum also brought out the saltiness in the crayfish (for one of us).
For the main, we had curry mutton, with sweetcorn slaw and roti, paired with La Mauny VSOP. We threw Krystian a bit of a curveball here as he had originally chosen the rum to go with a ribeye steak, rather than a spicy dish so no one knew whether the pairing would be a good one. As a VSOP agricole from Martinique, the rum is aged four years minimum, this one in ex-bourbon barrels. On the nose it’s oaky, a little smokey, tannic and with dried fruits. This is mirrored on the palate and is very dry. We sometimes find aged agricoles can be too woody to taste and here is the remedy: pair it with spicy food. The curry mutton reduced the woodiness and brought out the sweetness of the rum, with a peppery aftertaste. The food completely reshaped the rum for this one!
We then got two desserts: mango and passion fruit posset with ginger shortbread and grilled pineapple with a rum and sugar glaze (Don Q gold) and guava sorbet. The first was paired with the controversial Don Papa. Nosing this rum gives the first indication of why it has garnered so much discontent, with lots of artificial vanilla and an overly sweet smell. The vanilla sweetness didn’t stand up to much in the mouth, though and was wiped out by the bittersweet taste of the passion fruit in the dessert.
The second dessert was paired with the new bottling of Takamaka St André, an 8-year old rum from the Seychelles. On the nose was tropical fruit, a bit of citrus or orange, and even a touch of cinnamon. This rum stood up to the dessert and interestingly, brought out a bitterness at the back of the palate, mixing with the acidity of the pineapple.
Another great evening of food and drink, so big thanks to the guys from Rum & Sugar and all the best to Alessio who’s moving to the other side of the world!
Until next time, keep rumming!