Forget fruity mocktails, La Dame de Pic in London has unveiled sophisticated alcohol-free drinks pairings that are matched with dishes on its tasting menus. Jenny Southan reports
Tapping into the “Sober Travel” trend that Globetrender predicts will be big in 2023 and beyond, the French fine-dining resturant La Dame de Pic at the Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square hotel in London, will “redefine the dining experience” with the launch of “Imprégnation Absolue”, a new globally inspired non-alcoholic drinks pairing menu.
Despite the weird sounding name (I am not sure “impregnation” is what diners are looking for), the concept is actually one that refers to the process of steeping, steaming, smoking or marinating ingredients so that their aromas are enhanced, creating new surprising flavours in both the dishes and drinks.
The innovative selection of alcohol-free drinks include rare teas from across East Asia; coffee sustainably grown in Africa and South America; and locally produced kombucha.
Working closely with head executive sommelier Paz Levinson, Chef Anne-Sophie Pic has developed a “dry dining” menu “grounded on the art of metamorphosis”. As part of the dining experience, guests are invited to observe the process of transformation before dishes arrive through the ritual preparation of cocktails and tea, or the mixing of certain ingredients for the sauce which takes place in front of them at the table.
This serves as an aromatic prelude to their dining experience and allows the guests to smell the aromas that will be blended into the dishes, stimulating the five senses. Drinks include Genmaicha Collins, a non-alcoholic cocktail using Genmaicha tea, lime cordial and cardamom, whose tart and earthy notes pair well with the Heritage tomato marinated with Nikka whisky and a refreshing tagette and mint ice-cream.
Likewise, the aniseed notes in the Cornish turbot glazed with pastis, bell pepper, agastache and lavender and curry sabayon are perfectly matched with the warm, aromatic blend of allspice and cardamom in the Seedlip Martini.
Berlingots, delicate pasta parcels filled with St Cera cheese and infused with geranium, shiso and Chartreuse, are equally inspired and paired with the smooth, round and floral texture of warm Hon Gyokuro tea.On the other end of the spectrum, the strength of La Dame de Pic London’s Geisha coffee, made with the Chemex method for a pure flavour, finds a natural companion in the Hereford beef fillet, which is also marinated in coffee and served alongside baby aubergine tempura, rich oxtail confit and fresh dill.
“Impregnation Absolue” is also extended to the desserts, devised by Chef Pic and executive pastry chef Eric Verbauwhede; the sweet notes of the seasonal White Millefeuille with Tahitian vanilla, Jasmine jelly and Voatsiperifery Pepper cloud from are slightly lifted by the delicate aromas of citrus and chamomile found in the sparkling Bla tea.Drawing influence from all corners of the world, the new non-alcoholic drinks offering also includes a selection of rare teas sourced with the help of respected tea sommelier Kiona Malinka, who has chosen varieties such as Bai Yao Zhenis, a bespoke Chinese white tea made using only the young top shoots of the crop.
Kiona’s deep cultural understanding of farming and terroirs brings to light the same subtle regional qualities typically associated with wine.
Anne-Sophie Pic’s established partnership with Maki Maruyama of the Jugetsudo House of Tea also brings added harmony to the menu: premium Japanese tea has been carefully balanced with the chef’s favourite ingredients, from hojicha and cubeb pepper to genmaicha and tonka beans, creating a moment of unity between flavour and aroma.On top of sourcing from premium suppliers, the new drinks from La Dame de Pic London use components which are the result of dedicated extractions, fermentations and infusions tried and tested at their famous lab in Valence, Southern France, where herbs and flowers, from Douglas pine to green cardamom to fresh Thai basil and lovage leaves, are given a contemporary twist using classic techniques.
Anne-Sophie Pic says: “Working with Paz Levinson, our Head Executive Sommelier, encouraged me to expand on the world of infusion. I wanted to develop aromatic dialogues between products or dishes right down to the drinks. Food and drink combinations were born, showcasing just how exciting this new avenue of culinary exploration can be.”
The “Imprégnation Absolue” menu is available at La Dame de Pic London at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square. Pairing menus will be priced at four courses for £75, six courses for £95 and eight courses for £110.