Sunday, August 2, 2009

the Experience: Casa Noble Tequila & the Fish

“What would you like to drink?” –A common question we hear everytime we step foot into a restaurant. It seems like such a simple thing, but does anyone ever steps back and ask, does this drink really enhance the flavors of the food or mask it. Or did we order that drink for the sheer fact that we like how it taste?

The right drink paired with the right dish can turn a good meal into an extraordinary experience. This was proven when Casa Noble Tequila and the Fish Sushi Bar teamed up to create an experience to be remembered.

The Setting: the Fish Sushi Bar & Lounge, a contemporary, upscale eatery in West Village, uptown Dallas. We were seated in the spectacular private wine room, a crystal box lined with floor to ceiling wine racks on all four sides. With the dimmed light, it made for an intimate evening.

The Host: Owner and founder of Casa Noble Tequila, Jose Hermosillo.

An extremely charismatic gentleman who has created a great product that we all have a skewed view of: tequila. He led us through the technique of how to taste the tequila and really enjoy its flavors.

The Drink: Casa Noble Tequila: Crystal (Blanco), Reposado, and Añejo. This is not your typical “lick the salt, take the shot, bite the lime” tequila, but rather a fine liquor that truly rivals some of the top high end spirits available. Each type of tequila has its own distinctive aromas and flavors, despite being made from the same ingredient, the 100% organic Blue Agave.

The Food: Chef Vu Le of the Fish created three different Asian-inspired dishes, each with different types of tequila in mind: Madai Carppacio, Seared Scallop, Muscovy Duck Breast, and a surprise dessert.

The Pairing Begins:

Madai Carppacio with Casa Noble Crystal –A sweet Japanese snapper, topped with tangerine oil and sea salt served with a Fuji apple salad. The snapper was very sweet especially when contrasted with the tanginess of the apple salad. After a sip of the crystal, the sweetness of the snapper was emphasized three-fold as well as leading an extra layer of citrus flavor to the entire dish. Not at all was the tequila too over-powering for the fish as one would think—a beautiful combination!

Seared Scallop with Casa Noble Reposado –The Reposado is tequila that is aged just short of a year, in Casa Noble’s French white Oak barrels, 364 days. The aromas are much more herbal and peppery than the Crystal, but there is still a sweet caramel note at the very end. The seared scallop was served in a crawfish bisque along side an arugula salad topped with dried cranberries and goat cheese. The sweet scallop melded well with the nuttiness from the arugula as the peppery Reposado added a spicy boost but surprising rounds off the entire palate with a buttery flavor. The only fault I find with this pairing is the crawfish bisque was much too overpowering for the scallop. Overall, it was a very intriguing coupling.

Muscovy Duck Breast with Casa Noble Añejo –I made a comment about this dish that went over everyone’s head that night. The perfectly seared duck was served on a bed of apple puree and topped with watercress and a Bing cherry sauce. The rich dark meat with the sweetness of the cherries and apples reminded me of Chinese barbeque pork, char siu, or what the Vietnamese calls, xa xiu. This brought a nice childhood memory back in a more sophisticated manner. This robust dish is the perfect match for the Añejo. The Añejo is aged the longest and its taste is comparable to a refined brandy. I was not a fan of this tequila by itself since it’s much too strong of a taste for me, but with the rich duck, it made this the star of the evening. The oaky-peppery-ness from the tequila cuts through the fattiness of the duck and adds a soft caramel finish. A pairing made in heaven.

A question was posed to Jose during the tasting of what was his favorite combination for the tequilas. We were all surprised by the answer, the Añejo with a hot molten chocolate cake, and then we were served a much similar dish. The Fish has a flourless chocolate cake with a raspberry sauce that we were able to try with the Añejo. I won’t say much, but I strongly encourage EVERYONE to try this pairing. Let’s just say, no longer will I order coffee with my chocolate cake.

Casa Noble Tequila

The Fish Sushi Bar & Lounge

*All photographs courtesy of Jacob Fakheri with the exception of the image of the Fish Sushi bar, Copyright The Fish Restaurant and Sushi Bar.