Pisco’s One-Two Punch
|BRIDGET ALBERT HEADS TO NOLA FOR A TASTE OF THIS SOUTH AMERICAN SPIRIT IN COCKTAILS AND CUISINE AT IRIS
Pisco is a lively spirit and is an inspiration for fresh cocktails. There are several quality piscos available for mixologists to explore, including Barsol, ORO, Macchu Pisco, Pisco Portón and Encanto. My friend Duggan McDonnell, creator and owner of Encanto Pisco, says, “As a bartender who specializes in Latin Spirits, I’ve long known the Pisco Sour to be Latin America’s most elegant cocktail.”
I have to agree. Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Peru with Diego de Mola, President of Barsol, and a group of talented mixologists. There I learned that Pisco embodies the tradition and passion of its people in a glass. I was thrilled and surprised to learn the passion for this spirit has spread all the way from of South America to New Orleans, Louisiana. Chef Ian Schnoebelen and Mixologist Sharon Floyd are bringing this category to life at a NOLA restaurant Iris.
Bridget Albert: Chef Ian, as an owner what do you love most about working at Iris?
Chef Ian: I love the freedom to create whatever I want with the menu. The possible combinations and techniques with ingredients are endless.
BA: Chef Ian & Sharon, is there easy access to local ingredients in The Big Easy? What are some of your favorites?
Sharon: Local farmers markets are gaining more ground here every year. I love the fresh figs, the lemongrass and the amazing variety of herbs that are available here in New Orleans.
Chef Ian: Locals don’t ever call it The Big Easy! I use almost entirely local vegetables on my menu. I think that the beautiful Creole heirloom tomatoes grown here are my favorite.
BA: Chef Ian, the golden age of pisco and South American cuisine is making a comeback. What’s a non-traditional way to use pisco in a dish?
Chef Ian Schnoebelen and Mixologist Sharon Floyd outside restaurant Iris in New Orleans.
Chef Ian: A pisco-marinated foie gras when making a terrine or a torchon. Also, try using it as a deglazing spirit in an escargot sauce.
BA: Sharon, beyond the sour or punch what are some other pisco possibilities?
Sharon: Pisco is the perfect base for a variety of homemade seasonal fruit infusions. It is also a good candidate for reinventing classic recipes like a Sidecar and brandies cherries.
BA: Sharon, what words of advice can you give to get the next generations of mixers to appreciate this category?
Sharon: Pisco has a fascinating history and the competition between Peru and Chile over its production is interesting. The pisco world is quite diverse. There is a lot of room for interpretation and experimentation.
BA: Sharon, what best practices have you learned from Chef Ian?
Sharon: The seasonal produce that we get in NOLA is in constant flux, but Ian manages to be very efficient, wasting very little. He has taught me what is available and when, and how to best store it.
BA: Chef Ian, what do you respect most about Sharon as a mixologist?
Chef Ian: Sharon is so creative and determined to create something that is tasty and good.
BA: Sharon & Chef Ian, please give me one word that sums up the Iris guest.
Chef Ian: Happy.
THE DRINK: Eau de Vin
Mixologist Sharon Floyd’s pisco-based Eau de Vin paired with Chef Ian Schnoebelen’s foie gras torchon at Iris, New Orleans.
■ 1½ oz. BarSol pisco
■ ½ oz. dry white port
■ ½ oz. Averna amaro
■ ½ oz. ginger syrup
■ ½ oz. lemon juice
■ sprig of thyme
Shake all ingredients but thyme and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with the thyme sprig wrapped in a twist of lemon.
THE DISH: Foie Gras Torchon
■ 1 lobe “A” foie gras at room temperature
■ ½ cup pisco
■ 1 tablespoon salt
■ 1 teaspoon sugar
Seperate the two lobes of the liver. Remove veins with tweezers. Season both sides with the salt. Sprinkle sugar on both sides. Place into container. Pour pisco on top. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the liver. Place in refrigerator overnight. Pull out the next day and bring back to room temp. Roll in plastic wrap tighly like a sausage. Place into pot with 180-degree water. Put a plate on top to make sure the torchon is submerged. Poach for 5 minutes. Pull out and place into ice water for 5 minutes. Then roll very tightly with a towel, tying the ends with a piece of twine. Hang in the refrigerator by one of the pieces of twine for 24 hours. Remove towel and plastic and slice to serve.