I read somewhere it’s not uncommon to go through the stages of grief during this time of forced isolation: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. At any given moment I’m oscillating between anger and acceptance. Right now, for example, I’m angry I’m not at The Basics with my best friend Aimee, sipping mango mimosas and catching up, while we wait for something fabulous with a side of potato cake and a blueberry pancake to split because that’s our thing. But I accept that fact, so, instead, I’ll make myself a fried egg on a piece of brioche toast that my husband baked from scratch while I count my blessings.
Speaking of perfect pairings, this week I’ve upped the quarantini game to include accompanying dishes. Here are three fabulous recipes from local chefs paired with cocktail recipes from local spirit pros to make isolation a little more bearable. Or at the very least, maybe we can add another stage of grief: eating our feelings.
Blue Shark Vodka + Savorez
Wilmington’s very own Blue Shark Vodka doesn’t have a tasting room, but NC residents can find their spirits at ABC stores. Rumor has it their 1.75L bottles are available for a pretty cool price of $38.95. (And if quarantine has taught us anything, it’s to get the bigger bottle.)
Chef Sam Cahoon, owner of Savorez, downtown’s lovely Latin American spot, has paired Blue Shark’s cocktail with his shrimp and mango ceviche. Sam can be tipped for his insight on Venmo: @Sam-Cahoon-3
In lieu of tips, readers can donate to ncrestaurantrelief.com on behalf of Blue Shark Vodka.
1 ounce Blue Shark Vodka
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
2 ounces Fresh grapefruit juice
Fill glass with ice. Combine all ingredients and stir. Garnish with an orange slice.
SHRIMP AND MANGO CEVICHE
2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (if fresh, cut shrimp in half lengthwise before blanching for a quicker cook time and for more even cooking)
1 cup lime juice (fresh is best)
0.5 cup Orange juice
0.5 cup Mango nectar, or diced pineapple and juice
1 Red onion, diced
1 Red bell pepper, diced (try jarred roasted red bell peppers or roast your own)
1 Habanero or jalapeño (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
1 Mango, peeled and diced (again, pineapple works)
1 ounce fresh basil, chopped
1 ounce fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon Sea salt
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a separate bowl with ice water. Blanch shrimp by submerging in boiling water 30-60 seconds, until just cooked through. Quickly drain or strain out of boiling water and place in ice water to stop cooking process. Once cooled, remove from ice water and set aside until marinade is ready.
Mix together mango nectar, orange juice, lime juice and salt. Once combined, add diced onions, peppers, mango and herbs. Finally, mix in blanched shrimp. Serve with tortilla chips or something crunchy, and enjoy with your cocktail! Perfect for a warm, sunny spring day!
CRUST Kitchen & Cocktails + The Second Glass
Anyone else really craving a Dragonheart sammie with a side of disco fries and ’90s hip-hop? That and an elegant cheeseboard with a cold glass of Viognier would cure all that ails me. Alas, we will have to park it at our own dinner tables for a yummy cocktail by CRUST’s own general manager, Tish Bass, alongside salmon parcels from The Second Glass’s executive chef, Ryan O’Janpa.
Bass can be tipped via Venmo: @The-Tish-Bass
O’Janpa can be tipped via Venmo: @Ryan-OJanpa
1.5 ounces Uncle Val’s botanical gin
1 ounce Blood orange juice
1 ounce Sour mix
Floater of champagne
Serve on the rocks, in a Collins glass.
SMOKED SALMON PARCEL
1 Sheet frozen puff pastry
1 Pack sliced smoked salmon
1 cup Ricotta
1 Minced shallot
1 Cob corn, charred and cut off the cob
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced basil
1 Beaten egg
Thaw puff pastry, cut into 8 equal squares, set aside. Sweat shallot over medium-high heat. Once translucent, add the corn and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tablespoon of butter, cut off heat and stir until butter is melted. Add the corn mixture, along with the minced basil, to the ricotta and mix thoroughly. Allow cooling before assembling the parcels.
Curried Sour Cream:
1 c Sour cream
1/2 Yellow onion, minced
0.5 tablespoon yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon Ground turmeric
1 cup vegetable stock
For the sour cream, sweat the onion in a pan on medium-low heat. When onion becomes translucent, add the curry powder and turmeric. Allow to toast for about a minute, then add the vegetable stock. Reduce by 3/4 and whisk into sour cream. Allow cooling completely before serving.
To assemble the dish, place 1 slice of smoked salmon in the center of each puff pastry and top with 1.5 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture. Brush a bit of water along the edges of the puff pastry. Fold up opposite corners of the puff pastry to touch in the center above the filling and pinch to seal. Fold up the other two corners and pinch together along the seams to seal the parcel.
Cool in a refrigerator for an hour before cooking. Brush each parcel with the beaten egg and cook at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until a nice golden brown is achieved. Serve sour cream cold underneath the salmon parcels
Copper Penny + Poe’s Tavern
What I wouldn’t give for a Chestnut 109 with a Wilmington Brewing Company Penny Pale Ale on a Tuesday afternoon with my friend Jarred. Or some tuna tacos outside, with a margarita and my best bud Ben, as the Wrightsville Beach breeze soothed our sunburned necks.
An at-home pairing will have to do for now. Devan Mitchell, front-of-house manager at Copper Penny, is summoning summer with her Deep Eddy concoction, which will pair lovingly Poe’s Carolina classic burger, courtesy of GM Sabrey Ball.
In lieu of tips, Mitchell requests readers contribute to the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance Service Industry Workers Grocery Program: donorbox.org/service-industry-workers-grocery-program
In lieu of tips, Ball encourages readers to purchase a Poe’s gift card via rallyforrestaurants.com.
DEEP EDDY BLUES
First, muddle a handful of blueberries
1.5 ounces Deep Eddy Peach
.5 ounce of Cointreau
Shake vigorously and top with some fresh lemonade.
Bartenders note: Readers who don’t like too sweet can cut it with some club soda.
The Poe’s kitchen isn’t quite ready to share their secrets, so readers can try their hand at this “no recipe” recipe. Ball says, “Nothing says summer in the South like peaches and blueberries, so we paired the drink with one of our Southern creations!”
The Carolina burger includes an 8 oz burger grilled to a choice temperature, topped with pulled pork, pickled red onions, and shredded cabbage. It’s a great way to use up some extra stuff hanging around the fridge.
Folks who want to zhuzh it up can toss the cabbage with a little salt, pepper, mayo and celery seeds, or make a quick barbecue sauce for the pulled pork with vinegar, brown sugar and cayenne.