Saffire Summer Tasting Party
Want to host your own tasting menu party? Start with a theme for your bites and sips. It could delve into a specific cuisine. (Spanish tapas, Spanish wines anyone?) Or, it could be ingredient-driven. (An heirloom tomato supper!) Or, how about exploring a trend, like craft beer? (It’s the new wine.)
The art of the hop is flourishing in Nashville, with several local independents garnering acclaim for their brews. What foods would go well with Berliner-style Weisse? Or an American Black Ale? Is there a beer to pair with a creamy fruit dessert?
Saffire Restaurant and Bar chef Jason La Iocona decided to tackle that theme. Cold brews and a backyard barbecue go hand-in-hand. With summer being an ideal time to fire up the smoker, he would create a menu of smoked meats and fish.
He recently hosted such a tasting at the Franklin restaurant. Titled Brews & BBQ, his five-course menu treated guests to quaffs from 5 different breweries, pairing them with four different smoked proteins, and a dreamy dessert.
Chef La Iocona shares his complete menu, some recipes, and tips for hosting your owntasting menu party.
BREWS & BARBECUE
Smoked Salmon Crostini paired with Fat Bottom Lychee Weiss
Pork Belly with cider vinegar sauce and sweet corn grits paired with Jackalope Thunder Ann APA
Smoked Chicken with Alabama white sauce and butter braised mustard greens paired with Black Abbey Crossroads Summer Ale
Beef Ribs with Texas ketchup and smashed new potatoes paired with Mayday Evil Octopus
Banana Pudding paired with Yazoo Hefeweizen
TIPS FROM CHEF JASON LA IOCONA
When hosting a party, the key is to get as much done before hand as possible. You don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen while everyone is trying to be loose and engaging. As a host, you should not only be part of the party and its energy, you should be leading it.
Plan Ahead, Plate Ahead!
Look over your menu and decide which items will work plated and chilled ahead of time. If you have the room, you can assemble a course, such as a canapé or salad, wrap it and refrigerate it. This goes for the dessert as well.
Label and Group
Have those ingredients together according to course. And label your prep accordingly.You worked hard on all this; respect your work. Chefs label everything. Let’s say one of the courses is a charcuterie tasting. Have the meats wrapped and stored together along with any crackers, bread, mustards, jams, etc you plan to serve with them. It would be a shame to forget a key element, only to remember that jar of Vidalia onion jam or whipped honey long after that plate is finished.
Feature an item or two from a local artisan
Whether it’s rustic sourdough bread from a local baker, cured meats from a local butcher, or fresh pasta sold by the brothers who made it: this is a terrific way to bring in a sense of community and showcase special things your town has to offer. Of course, balance that with your own ideas and creations.
When it comes to serving the food, avoid saying things like, “Mine’s alright but not as good as so-and-so’s”. Your guests will appreciate your efforts even if your salami pinwheels aren’t as refined as a chef’s ballotine. Remember, the meal is as much about the atmosphere and company as it is about the food—not to mention the drinks!
ABOUT CHEF JASON LA IACONA
From a young age, Jason La Iacona loved cooking, and would help his mother preparemeals. Kitchen tools and gadgets were his most-requested birthday gifts. He trained at LeCordon Bleu in Chicago, and has worked in varied culinary fields, from catering companies, to high volume restaurants to boutique hotel kitchens. A recent transplant to the Nashville area, La Iacona joined the culinary team as sous chef at The Southern Steak and Oyster in 2014. Demonstrating strengths in innovative menu design and execution, he soon moved on to become Chef de Cuisine at Saffire Restaurant and Bar, the sister restaurant in Franklin. His cooking philosophy is to let the ingredients speak for themselves, while using the best ingredients at hand.
SUMMER TASTING RECIPES