The earlier mentioned WFNN tenth anniversary opening dinner was in one word; fantastic. As we might have hinted on some occasions, we are experimenting with food and whisky for some time already, in order to find what fits well in combination with one another.
We got tipped that the organisation had planned a ten-course dinner in honour of the celebrations, where each course was paired with a different whisky.
Eight out of ten whiskies were sponsored and chosen by Douglas Laing’s Jan Beckers and presented beforehand to the whisky-chef Martine Nouet, who in her turn collaborated with the new chef of bistro Het Gerecht in Groningen to create a ten part masterpiece.
Upon entering the bistro, we were given a 15yo Glentauchers, which was accompanied by an amuse of poultry liver hazelnut and chocolate mousse. On itself the amuse had a strong liver taste and fat mouthfeel, where the Glentauchers made it quite smooth, lifting up the nutty characteristics from both the creamy hazelnut as well as the whisky.
Once we were set at a table, a nearly frozen 8yo single minded Isle of Jura was served together with an oyster with vervain and salty spices. According to Martine, chilled ex-Bourbon matured whiskies go excellent with (shell)fish notes, and we can only agree with her. Brought together, it was a delicate bite, with a fresh citrusy and not too fishy, complex combination.
Staying in a fish environment, the next dish was a raw mackerel with dill cream and couscous, served with a single minded 10yo Tamdhu, creating a lovely balanced bite that came together very nice, perfectly matching the samphire and dill as well known fish partners with the fruity and sweet Tamdhu. The chefs had chosen well.
A beet risotto with crunchy beets were paired with a Scallywag, for us the best match of the evening, we could have had seconds. It was an all-out beet festival on a plate, with slices, risotto and sauce – everything beets, that the sweet and fruity Scallywag matched very nicely. Earthy and sweet notes in perfect harmony.
Back to the sea with smoked clams and shellfish sauce combined with oxheart cabbage. As Martine reminded us, when eating a smoked dish stay away from a smoky whisky. A 12yo Bunnahabhain from the Provenance series matured in an ex-Sherry cask matched the clams and cabbage really well, although some more clams and half the cabbage might have worked better.
A slow cooked goat shoulder with marsh rosemary and crispy potato was next on the menu, matched with a slightly smoky and briny Rock Oyster. With the relative violence of the peat in the glass compared to what we already had, it went really well with the tender goat. The crispy potatoes were replaced by a lentil-puree which none would have missed.
The slightly smoky Rock Oyster was a good introduction to the Big Peat matched with a pork cheek with chestnuts and lentils. Although the lentils from the menu had move a dish up, the sweet chestnut puree and the smoky Big Peat did a great job together forgetting about them completely. A heavenly combination which we would like to reproduce some day. With some training…
The citrus tart with white chocolate and green tea ice cream that was next and complemented the 18yo Old Particular Auchroisk. The balance was complete and well chosen, and the dish was very well in balance with the Auchroisk. Maybe we had too much of excessive combinations already, this second last dish was a tad too safe.
The first whisky presented was the first WFNN festival bottling. This last whisky, called Le Durachdan was this year’s festival bottling, and a match in heaven with the Belgian finger paint chocolate and a cup of coffee. Chocolate and a peaty Islay whisky (from an unnamed Kildalton distillery; the middle one) are always good matches, and this was no exception.
Many thanks to the organisation for the headsup, Jan Beckers and Douglas Laing for the whisky and Martine Nouet and bistro chef Henrice Dijks for the great pleasures they have placed in front of us.
More food and whisky combinations were to be had during the festival and master classes presented by Chef zonder restaurant Inge Lanckacker and Diageo’s Herman van der Meij, and we were lucky enough to have obtained tickets to Martine Nouet’s masterclass where she paired eight different bites (prepared by Inge Lanckacker) with four different whiskies.
Like previous year, Diageo had a small freshly made food pairing at their stand which gave us a different view on some of their whiskies we would normally have overlooked. Furthermore there were different snacks to be had from (again) Inge Lanckacker at the VIP sessions that were not matched with a whisky per sé, and there were various stands available where one could purchase a snack in the form of cheese, chocolate, stew and other delicacies.