Those Other Pairings

We know what goes with margaritas and with beer, and for wine pairings, Jeremy Parzen, enough said. But we're fans of a few lesser known matches that have that special something.

Coffee with Chocolate Croissant and Orange Juice This combo came from an interview with author/director Sam Hoffman on Popmatters.com.

My ideal breakfast is coffee, a chocolate croissant and a fresh squeezed orange juice. Hard to imagine a more sublime combination of tastes in the morning.

It sounded like way too much sugar and acid, but Mr. Hoffman has a winning trio. I follow his ideal often, with La Madeleine's chocolate croissants. I also like Mr. Hoffman's website, Old Jews Telling Jokes, particularly "Drobkin" by Malcolm Busch.

Gin and Tonics with Pretzels While testing Tanqueray & Tonics, I reached for the only thing available to reset my palate -- Snyder's of Hanover pretzel twists. I don't even like pretzels, but the salty crunch was the perfect contrast to the herbal bitterness of the gin and the tonic. Next: pair the cocktail with a soft hot pretzel.

Tea with Scones, Clotted Cream, and Strawberry Preserves I'll never affect being British (Upper Kirby), but there are culinary highlights. I occasionally rustle up milk scones, with Devon Clotted Cream from Central Market, and strawberry preserves, which pairs well with English Breakfast tea, or Tazo Awake black tea. I don't know where Brits learn their English, but some of them pronounce "scone" to rhyme with "gone."

Cosmopolitans and Thanksgiving Dinner Cranberries are part of the tradition, and provide a red exclamation on the drab palette of a Thanksgiving dinner. But I belong to the faction that hates cranberry sauce oozing onto my turkey and mashed potatoes, and the only satisfying part of jellied cranberry is the "schhhhlp" sound when the pink cylinder slides out of the can.

Why not move the berry from the plate to a glass, with the best cranberry cocktail ever? However, to avoid the Stigma of Trendiness Past, serve the Cosmos on the rocks, in old-fashioned glasses, with a twist of lemon, and call it "Cranberry Punch."

Negronis and Fettunta There's Texas toast, and French toast, but rather than Italian toast, we have crostini, bruschetta, and the less familiar fettunta, which is slices of toasted Italian white bread, drizzled with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with sea salt. As my friend Paola recommended, fettunta provides a salty crunch and a fruity olive oil flavor, which pairs remarkably well with the wonderful acquired-taste bitterness of a Negroni.

Lastly, as the weather turns cool, I'd like to find a place that serves hot chocolate and churros, a pairing that's common in the cafes of Spain, Mexico, and California, but hasn't caught on here.

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