viernes, 6 de agosto de 2010

How we created pisco cocktails in a new Lima restaurant

By Lucero Villagarcia de Bedoya
Translated by Isabel Guerra

When Noemí Cristóbal decided to open Casa Faustina, a new restaurant in San Isidro, she did it with the firm belief that this was meant to be a special place to provide the best of everything — and not only with her exquisite Andean-gourmet food creations.

Lucero Villagarcia helped Casa Faustina choose their piscos. (Photo by Carsten Korch)

She requested help from the experts in each field for the details that make a good dining experience: a warm, picturesque, unique place, a good wine list, special coffee, and of course, pisco.

When she asked for my help to consult her choice of pisco, I felt really thrilled to see a restaurant trying to work with pisco as it should be, giving it the special place it deserves.

So I arrived to my first session carrying bottles, cups and that huge dose of passion that fills me each time I simply mention the word pisco. All the restaurant's staff, including Noemi and her daughters, joined me. I started by telling them the history, the denomination of origins, the elaboration, the pisco-producer regions and the characteristics of each grape; and then continued with the tasting of all types of piscos: pure, acholado and mosto verde.

It was easy to share with them how the magic of the pisco resides in this wonderful diversity of pisco grapes, in their charming aromas, so different and so unique. It was not hard to show them that not all piscos are good and that there are different qualities, to convince them than there is more about pisco than just the pisco sour; and also to show them how all this diversity gives room to creativity at making cocktails.

It was a moment for discoveries, since it was the very first time that Noemi and the others were in front of a naked pisco, pure, without any fruit, syrup or additional liquor. The surprise and emotions that filled them when receiving each pisco, while discovering each grape variety's new scents and flavors; each touch of banana, pecans, quebranta raisins, apple, citrics, flowers, peach, chocolate and even olive, made these sessions really pleasant parties.

Noemi took her good own time to taste each pisco, and I realized that, as she took each cup closer to her nose, smelling each scent and tasting each flavor, she was combining them in her mind to create the exquisite and unique cocktails that the pisco list at Casa Faustina offers:
• Mitades perfectas (Perfect halves) that blends the citric touches of Italia grape pisco from Don Amadeo with fresh orange juice.
• El Hacedor (The maker) where the subtleness of albilla grape from Tres Generaciones and tumbo (a local fruit) make a perfect match.
• Sígueme que tengo premio (Follow me, I carry a prize), a lusty combination of aguaymanto (another local fruit) and the pisco made of moscatel grapes El Sarcay, from Azpitia.
• Confiésate conmigo (Confess to me), a coctail with juicy prickly pears and the finest acholado pisco from Qollpe.
• Chola provocativa (Desirable Chola), whose blend of Peruvian lúcuma and black creole grapes from De Carral pisco will make you sigh.
• Loca pasión (Mad Passion), a powerful cocktail of Maca and quebranta pisco El Sarcay de Azpitia, and,
• Te quiero madurito (I love you mature), a real work of art, that perfectly combines uvina grapes from Gran Cruz pisco and creamy avocados. It is definitely worth a try!

Of course, we also did sessions of pairing pisco with foods, where we tasted each dessert with each one of the piscos, so that we could find the best combinations to suggest to our clients, seeking to add even more joys to their experience.

Casa Faustina has given pisco a very special place in this place that is already extra careful with each one of the details, and where pleasure is granted.

Lucero Villagarcia is sommelier and pisco taster at the Wine and Pisco Institute at the Universidad San Martín de Porres. She is also member of the independent tasting organization that posts their results at Noches de Cata blog.


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