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Vodka and Yuca Croquetas: A Perfect SoBeWFF Pairing

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Food and wine pairings have been a big thing for years. Beer and wine pairings have become increasingly common. Scotch pairings: you've at least heard of them. But vodka? You probably didn't know that people were into that outside of Russia or Poland. Well, sorry to break it to you, but it's a thing you probably don't know about. As part of the Bank of America Lifestyle Seminars at the Shelbourne, DOME Caviar & Cocktails, executive chef Marsh Orosco and the Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim gave out some tips on executing a proper vodka pairing.

According to Orosco, "When you're working with spirits, you need to pair the food with the spirit--not the other way around. I'm one of those chefs who likes to learn the spirit first and then pick the menu."

The first step is evaluating what grains were used to produce the vodka, most commonly wheat, rye, potato, corn, and sometimes barley. Orosco suggests "Decide the strongest note and pick the food accordingly. As an example, for Tito's Handmade Vodka -- a corn vodka -- I like to use things with corn: corn cakes, polenta.

The other piece of advice: don't pick anything that will overpower the vodka. "Vodka has clean notes," says Orosco, "Don't pick foods that are too spicy. You want to compliment the flavors--not overpower them."

For the seminar, Abou-Ganim picked an array of vodkas: the unreleased Absolut Elyx, a premium wheat vodka; Belvedere a Polish rye; Chopin Potato Vodka; Tito's Handmade Vodka, made of corn; Ultimat Vodka, a blend of potato, barley, and wheat; and Ketel One a Dutch wheat vodka. To pair, Orosco prepared yuca croquettas with chive crema and paddlefish caviar, smoked salmon crèpes with dill crème fraîche and white sturgeon caviar, blini with egg mousse and vegan caviar, and cilantro corn cakes with crème fraîche and hackleback caviar. Guests were asked to sample the different vodkas with the different dishes to discern their favorites.

Which pairing worked best? The Chopin Potato Vodka with the yuca croquettas. And the caviar wasn't half bad.

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