Just how do you pair gin and a four-course meal that has lobster and Mascarpone potatoes [potatoes made with Mascarpone cheese], vegetables and leek sushi, and baby tomatoes?
It is an art that Chef Kimani Kiarie of Five Senses Restaurant in Nairobi is trying to perfect as the number of gin lovers in Kenya grows.
Gin is increasingly becoming an attractive category of alcohol as drinkers experiment and craft products launch new flavours to attract consumers, looking for new and original experiences.
“Gin has a soft target and not many chefs are doing gin and food pairing. This is the right time to be doing it," says chef Kimani.
The creative chef, among the young Kenyans, redefining dining in Nairobi says the advantage of gin is that being so rich in botanicals, one can match it with multiple kinds of foods.
Think crispy potato, seared wagyu, smoked cream cheese, salmon roe and micro-green as you sit down to enjoy the night away with a welcome cocktail of KO gin and tonic.
For a starter, we were served cured salmon and paired it with KO Klub pineapple. His choice of pineapple and cured salmon gravlax on a base of avocado and coconut, with a white vermouth base did not disappoint, as it also paired well with the gin mix of pineapple.
The pineapple gin is a fruity gin that combines notes of sweet and ripe pineapple, caramel and floral candy.
The main course was lobster and the guests drowned in a coastal spice gin. On the plate, we had sous vide lobster tail, with a rockfish bisque, vegetables and leek sushi, baby tomatoes and a mascarpone potato.
For this pairing, you get to enjoy lobster with a combination of spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper and tamarind and washed with the creaminess of coconut.
The dessert and gin was classic.
“Not that I don't drink other spirits, but my go-to drink is gin,” he said. “I try to serve local food at my restaurant and I just clicked that I could pair my food with a local gin-maker.”
Frank Ameka, one of the diners said: “The boldness of flavours is what excites me. More chefs need to be brave to create such experiences."
For Gerald Bukhala, it was the dessert paired with gin that was unforgettable: "The smooth chocolate toasted bread blew my mind away.”