Bogie and Bacall. Gin and tonic. Cuddly kittens and viral videos. There are some things that seemingly couldn’t—or at least, shouldn’t–exist without the other.
Add to the list one more match made in heaven…or, more specifically, in East London: Scotch and Scottish smoked salmon, as demonstrated by last night’s celebrated pairings of Glenfiddich and fruits of the sea at H. Forman & Son.
Located on the aptly named Fish Island in Stratford, H. Forman & Son features an on-site smokery, a restaurant and bar, art gallery, hospitality venue, and the Forman & Field artisan foodstuffs venture, delivering goodies right to your door.
According to London Mayor Boris Johnson, as renowned for his off-the-cuff quotes as his unruly thatch of hair, “Forman’s is not just a smokehouse. It’s a salmon theme park!” (Never change, Boris. Never change).
Forman’s is also the world’s oldest producer of smoked salmon, run by the same family for four generations. “My great-grandfather originally hailed from a little Scottish fishing village…in Russia,” joked Lance Forman, explaining that his ancestor founded the business in 1905 after immigrating to London.
The rest, as they say, is “fishstory.”
Forman went on to lead a spirited discussion (ahem) about the merits of Scotland’s best exports.
He was joined on stage by Kirsten Grant Meikle, a fifth-generation descendent of William Grant & Sons (distillers of Glenfiddich), and UK Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador Mark Thomson, as guests sampled a trio of whisky and salmon combinations.
First up: Forman’s Grade One “London Cure” Smoked Scottish Salmon, washed down with a dram of Glenfiddich 12 Year Old, distributed by nimble waitresses balancing whisky-laden trays.
“While you might be drinking 12 year-old Glenfiddich, you’ll be relieved to know that you’re not eating 12 year-old fish,” Foreman assured us with a smile, explaining that this was the freshest salmon, cured with rock salt and just a puff of smoke. “The whole point of smoking fish is to preserve the flavour of the salmon. Too much smoke and you can’t taste the fish.”
As for the whisky, “it’s like walking through an orchard filled with apples and pears, but still with a hint of the woods in the background,” observed Thomson, nosing his glass. “There’s a comfort in it. It’s one of the whiskies that does what it says on the tin.”
The second tasting paired Forman’s hot-smoked salmon (available in maple glazed, peppered, and citrus zest varieties) with Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix, an innovative marriage of malts from Oloroso and American oak casks, rescued from warehouses which had been hit by heavy snow. A bit ironic, that, as Snow Phoenix’s chocolate, coffee and honey flavours proved the perfect winter warmer. (Okay, so it’s technically still autumn, but let’s not parse our tipples).
For the final tasting, we sampled “genuinely wild” Scottish smoked salmon with Glenfiddich Malt Master–a whip-cracking name if ever there was one. (It might even lure James Bond from his beloved martinis, were it available in the UK.)
Of course, you might suppose that you’d need a robust dram to stand up to a “genuinely wild” salmon. The name conjures images of a frothing, lunging beast of the deep, which might as soon eat you as the other way around.
In fact, these are probably the happiest salmon in the sea, given free range to frolic in the ocean, feeding on a completely natural diet. The creamy flesh, with its bold, gamey flavour, fitted the Malt Master’s spicy, plummy, and vanilla notes as tidily as a puzzle piece.
As a grand finale, the hosts matched a Glenfiddich cocktail maker against Darren Matson, the Guinness World Record holder for slicing bone-smoked salmon, to see who could complete their task first. As an oversized digital clock relentlessly counted up the seconds, the excitement was “palatable.”
Bottles gushed, knives flashed, and—I’ll cut the suspense short—Matson did NOT cut his fingers off. He, did, however, manage to produce an expertly sliced fish in just less than one minute and seven seconds, narrowly beating the bartender to the finish line.
I think a drop of one of these will do nicely.
To order the Forman & Field “Double Scotch Hamper:” http://www.formanandfield.com/the-double-scotch-hamper-p-4013.html
Following the Scotch whisky trail http://amylaughinghouse.com/?p=1825
“Sea” & T: Seaweed infused gin http://amylaughinghouse.com/?p=1606
Unexpected pairings for the palette: Gin & Chocolate http://amylaughinghouse.com/?p=1461
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE. How to NOT sound like an idiot when you order Glenfiddich, and other mysteriously pronounced Scotch whiskies: http://www.esquire.com/features/drinking/scotch-pronunciation-guide-5836909