Mediterranean Inspirations Finals: Gastrobartending at its best

Earlier this month, Gin Mare invited finalists from around the world to compete in Ibiza for the grand prize of their sixth annual cocktail competition. For the third and final round, contestants presented their signature gastrobartender cocktail creations based on the theme of eggs as a central ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Chef Jason Howard and I helped each contestant develop his or her own gastrobartender recipe and executed the dishes they paired with their #MediterraneanInspirations2016 cocktails.

A Foodpairing® collaboration

Altogether, there were eight finalists from seven different countries—Spain, England, Germany, Austria, Italy, Portugal and the United States—bringing with them an international palette of culinary inspiration and ingredients. London-based Chef Jason Howard, who specializes in Modernist Caribbean cuisine, and I provided ingredient guidance to the eight gastro bartenders as they developed their egg-themed cocktail pairings.

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As challenging as it was for us to prepare all eight dishes representing a full range of cuisines in a single day, Chef Howard and I enjoyed the collaboration and even learned a few new things along the way! Who knew you could brew coffee with sweet potatoes? (Chef Howard does!) We also tried for the first time kunafa, an Arabic pastry filled with a stretchy mozzarella-like cheese.

pairings for Gin Mare and heated egg for the Mediterranean Inspirations cocktail competition

Two panels of judges were convened to score the final round of the cocktail competition. Both a cocktail panel and a separate jury of gastronomic experts that included Johan Langenbick (co-founder of Foodpairing), tasted the eight egg-inspired cocktails and their edible pairings before announcing a tie for this year’s Mediterranean Inspirations grand prize.

Gin Mare – egg – carrot – saffron – squid – eggplant – orange (1st Place)

The two first prize winners, Robyn Wilkie of the 7 Tales Bar (London) and Fabio Brusco of San Rocco restaurant (Alicante), impressed both juries with their egg-inspired creations.’The Masquerade’ was Wilkie’s winning cocktail, a Gin Mare infusion of carrot shrub and saffron, yogurt and a touch of lemon juice, topped with honey-almond egg foam and a rice cracker to give the effect of an eggshell. To accompany her cocktail, she served the judges grilled squid on a bed of baked eggplant purée garnished with seville orange segments, toasted almond and sunflower seeds, fresh mint and basil.

Gin Mare – egg – chartreuse – uni – olives – ras-el-hanout (1st Place)

Doing his own twist on the classic Italian zabaglione—an egg yolk and sweet Marsala wine-infused dessert— Fabio Brusco presented a cocktail he named Horizon. By mixing Gin Mare with green chartreuse and fresh lemon juice, over which he floated a separate layer of red wine topped with white egg foam and a sprig of fresh thyme, Brusco’s creation captured the Mediterranean sunset in a glass. As his pairing, he recalled the umami-rich flavors of Sicilian pane conzato, whereby he incorporated Spanish Arbequiña olives, anchovies, capers and tomato in a savory sponge cake that he served together with bottarga mayonnaise, cedar lemon-infused gel and freshly caught sea urchin. For texture, Brusco included crunchy almonds that he’d candied using ras-el-hanout, the North African spice mixture.

Gin Mare – egg – snap peas – rabbit – carrots – chanterelles (2nd Place)

Carlos Ruiz of Crystal Springs, US, placed second. His signature cocktail, Spike of Green, got its vivid color from the juice of fresh sugar snap peas, which Ruiz combined with Gin Mare, lavender syrup, fresh lime juice and egg whites. He then topped off his green mixture with fizzy 1724 tonic water, a garnish of fresh pea tendrils and lavender buds for aroma. To accompany his green drink, Ruiz served a rabbit roulade, honey-roasted heirloom carrots, chanterelle mushrooms and petite greens arranged over a shallow bed of romaine lettuce soup, which he named ‘The Rabbit in the Garden.’

Looking forward to next years edition!

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