When you’re feeling like going Irish, there are several beers to turn to whether you’re in the mood for a good dry stout or a red. While most of us at Cheers Charlotte typically look to beer, not much gets better than traditional Irish fare and whiskey. So when The Mandrake joined forces with Jameson Irish Whiskey, multiple members of the Cheers Charlotte crew were clamoring to attend. Brewkeeper blogger Sam Perkins and Amanda Fowler of Amanda Drinks Beers joined forces to enjoy an amazing night of Irish food from The Mandrake’s talented Chef Donnie Simmons and his team paired with specialty offerings from Jameson. And we promise we didn’t talk too much about beer in the process. Check out each of our takes on the food and whiskey pairings.
Potato and crab croquette with Madagascar vanilla creme fraiche paired with Jameson Black Barrel.
Chef Donnie instructed us to bite into the croquettes like they were Cadburry eggs and with the crunchy exterior and sweet filling he wasn’t far off. The Black Barrel being aged in charred Bourbon barrels brings a smooth but noticeably spiced flavor that helped balance the sweetness of the vanilla croquette filling.
Once I could get South Park out of my head (thank you, Creme Fraiche episode), I could focus on what was a great starter. This first varietal of Jameson was my favorite. Smooth, lightly sweet and [yes, again] smooth. This drank like a slightly sweet Scotch. The croquettes were a match as a lightly sweetened take on seafood and potatoes.
Irish soda bread: Middle Ground Farm duck egg, Irish bread crouton and slow 12 hour braised cabbage with Jameson Caskmates.
My favorite food course of the night. The slow braising of the cabbage brought out an intense richness that paired perfectly with salty meat and the duck egg all soaking into the course soda bread. The finishing of Caskmates in a stout-seasoned whiskey cask brings out notes of chocolate and butterscotch that I’d love to sip on as a dessert all its own but made for a strange pairing with this course.
If you haven’t enjoyed a good Irish soda bread, you haven’t lived. Everything about this was great, perhaps most notably the slow-braised cabbage. You never knew cabbage could have this much flavor. The broth and cabbage were much closer to French onion soup; the firm soda bread was a perfect compliment able to hold up with the broth. For such a rich, salty dish, the whiskey here was very much a contrast — lots of alcohol and heat on the whiskey. This drank like the ‘tequila’ of the whiskey varietals. Great nonetheless!
New Zealand lamb shank with celery root au gratin, asparagus and duck jus paired with Jameson Gold Reserve.
Holy dinosaur! Meat eaters unite around this massive lamb shank. The crispy sweet potatoes were a great addition covered in duck jus with the thick Guinness-braised lamb. The floral vanilla notes of the Jameson Gold Reserve were nice but something I may have preferred with a lighter dish or with a dessert course.
Wow. Meaty, irony, salty duck jus and lamb. Delicious. The Gold Reserve whiskey was again delicious, light, a bit hot (alcohol) and a bit of an odd pairing. The iron of the meat and the booze of the, well, booze were intense.
Bread pudding with Guinness creme anglaise and an edible orchid.
As a Southern girl eating this course, the Guinness creme anglaise was like delicious dessert gravy. Foodie newbie confession: I was dying to eat and edible orchid and I did – it was amazing.
This was the right way to end, especially to contrast the iron, salt and booze of the previous dish. Smooth, delicious, palate-calming and not too sweet. Fantastic.