Monthly Archives: December 2015
Most food lovers have the classic pairings essentially memorized: pinot noir with mushrooms and earthy vegetables, cab with steak, sauvignon blanc with greens, and so on. In recent years, though, more and more chefs and bartenders have been paying attention to pairing cocktails with meals, and the principles remain the same — to look for a balance of flavors by either complementing or contrasting. Sharp and sharp mirror each other beautifully as Parmesan cheese and negronis; meanwhile, the contrasting approach has citrusy, crisp sherry cobblers cutting through the richness of duck for a pairing much greater than the sum of its parts.
This particular dish, Vietnamese-style fish with turmeric and dill (Cha Ca Than Long, originally posted at Culinary Chronicles), has a lot going on, especially when paired with an Aviation American Gin martini. As such, there are both complementary and contrasting elements.
I love Asian food with dry white wine, and a martini is really just a boozier expression of that pairing. The herbal notes in a dry vermouth and a fragrant citrus twist mimic my favorite characteristics in food-friendly white wine, while Aviation adds a woodsy, spicy, warming backbone. It’s a spirit-forward cocktail for a dish that can stand up to it, with loads of spice and complexity in its own right. The flavors are at once bright and deep; there’s a strong savory fish sauce base, and fragrant spiciness from fresh ginger.
What takes it over the top for me is fresh dill — lots and lots of fresh dill. It’s rarely recognized as a traditional southeast Asian herb; most often, you’ll see Thai basil or cilantro. Surprisingly (at least it was for me), dill is actually quite common in the cuisines of Laos and northern Vietnam. Here, it shows up in main-ingredient quantities, as opposed to the modest sprinklings herbs are usually relegated to.
Naturally, if you’re not up for cooking, an Aviation Martini doesn’t discriminate against takeout, either. No one delivers martinis last time we checked, but thankfully, those are as simple as cocktails get.
- 1 pound white mild fish, such as cod, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons fish sauch
- 1 teaspoon powdered tumeric
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 green onions, green and pale green parts only, cut into 1-inch sections
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 1 bunch dill, tough stems removed
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 8-oz package of rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (for serving)
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped (for serving)
- 1-2 fresh red Thai chiles, sliced thin (optional, for serving)
- To marinate the fish, combine the fish sauce, turmeric, garlic, ginger, shallots, 1 tablespoon dill, and about 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in a large bowl. Mix marinade and add fish, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add the sliced onion and cook until soft and slightly translucent, then add 1/3 of the dill bunch, as well as about half of the green onion. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then transfer everything to a plate and set aside.
- Heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in the same skillet. Remove fish from the marinade and pat off excess marinade with paper towels. Pan-fry the fish in two batches for 2-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.
- Divide prepared rice noodles among 4 plates, then top with sauteed onion/dill mixture and fish. Top with remaining fresh dill and green onions, as well as the peanuts and red Thai chiles.
Ingredients for Aviation Martini
- 1 1/2 ounces Aviation American Gin
- 3/4 dry vermouth (Dolin Blanc used here)
- Lemon twist, for garnish
- Combine Aviation and vermouth in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with lemon twist.
Here’s to eating and drinking well all winter!
-Danguole Lekaviciute, Aviation Team Member
Make-a-Gift Day is December 3rd, and I so appreciate the intrinsic value of gift-giving. Particularly gifts which make a “tailored-just-for-you” declaration to the receiver. The whole definition of what a thoughtfully crafted gift embodies: altruistic expressionism, makes me glow from the inside out.
I’m not the kind of gift-giver grabbing randomly for trinkets and baubles and gewgaws, to get as many folks crossed off of my shopping list as possible. My mother always said, “Don’t get them something that’s going to sit on a shelf and collect dust.” Do you want to spend a weekend afternoon dusting off an endless collection of knick-knacks which impart no sentimental attachment whatsoever; and from people, mind you, who meant well, but who obviously gave a millisecond of a thought towards the item?
Let’s avoid the mind-numbing and ungraceful fall down the rabbit hole looking for gifts. And let’s stop morphing into simplicity-mode for the sake of getting it over with, and gifting the always trending gift card: retail’s ultimate default present.
For the cocktail cultured gurus on your list, holiday “Make-a-Gift” giving is a no-brainer. Like foodies who gravitate towards kitchen gadgets, imbibers of finely crafted spirits are attracted to all things batch distilled, along with cool barware to complement their mixologist skills. Putting together a special cocktail kit is one unique and reusable gift that will have the receiver smiling every time they shake, stir or blend a spirited concoction. There are limitless combinations!
Consider giving a thoughtful, homemade present this year, with Aviation American Gin as the centerpiece. A delicious, painstakingly crafted gin which exposes the palette to the fine traditions of small batch distillation. Here are some great suggestions to get your gears turning:
A bottle of award-winning Aviation American Gin, a Bull in China hand-blown mixing glass, a set of high ball glasses, a stylish ice cube tray, a 4-pack of ginger beer (Fentimans is remarkably delicious), a couple of fresh limes and a pack of Scrappy’s hand-crafted small batch bitters. They’ll be whipping up delicious, crowd-pleasing Mile High Mule cocktails with pride.
Streamline the gift with a pair of vintage stemmed Coupe glasses, a bottle of Aviation American Gin, an Aviation cocktail shaker, and a homemade bottle of clover honey syrup*. Bee Knees anyone?
Tea aficionados on your list? In a round vintage hat box, lined with crinkled tissue paper or shredded raffia, pack a set of Irish coffee mugs, a bottle of Aviation American Gin, a small bottle of Yellow Chartreuse liqueur, a box of loose cut Chamomile tea, a mesh tea ball, a homemade bottle of honey syrup* and a couple of fresh limes and TA-DA, you’ve just gifted a Chamomile Hot Toddy kit.
Please click on the “Cocktails” tab after you read this blog for more exciting Aviation Gin drink recipes. It might just inspire you to “make” even more gifts! Happy Holidays!
*Clover Honey Syrup recipe:
Combine equal parts honey to heated water and stir until honey is dissolved, let cool. Pour into a vintage apothecary bottle and tie with a tag and a gold metallic bow!
-Kelly Gajer, Aviation Team Member