Drinks and Desserts

How to create an artful masterpiece

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Warm weather is a time for dinner parties on the patio, or else with the windows open and music accompanying the breezes that tug at your table cloth. It’s not bad planning to have a few favorite meals in your repertoire for such celebrations, and we all have our go-to menus in case of an unexpected guest or six. Sometimes, though, the soup pot needs stirring. As flowers open up their summertime palettes, so, too, can your dinner table become a colorful arrangement of flavor. The perfect ending to the night? Drinks and desserts.

Uncertain about making a bit of art? Don’t be! One popular way to start planning a meal is with a theme. On the other hand, you could work backwards and maybe have a bit more fun: pick dessert first. After all, if you know where you’re going to end up, the rest of the meal practically plans itself. For a few ideas, here are some complementary colors to potentially fit your next dinner scheme.

Irish Coffee and Sticky Toffee Pudding

Bitter black coffee with a touch of brown sugar and Irish whiskey couldn’t go with anything better than a decadent pudding. Proof that they’re a match made in heaven: you can top them both with homemade whipped cream. This combination is as dark and homey as a classic pub poster.

Long Island Iced Tea and Peach Cobbler

Aunties-Peach-CobblerEven though there’s no actual tea in the classic Long Island, it’s refreshing and sweet enough to have on a front porch some summer evening with a scoop of homey peach cobbler. As peaceful as a still-life, but nowhere near boring.

Sambuca and Lemony Mascarpone Cake

Sambuca’s sweet, licorice flavor will complement the mellow mascarpone and the tart lemon and raspberries in this cake.  As an aperitif, Sambuca is fabulous on its own. Chilled and paired with dessert, it’s like a portrait turned into a scene in a ballet.

Sauternes Wine and Baked Brie

While considering sweet drinks to have with your dessert, Sauternes, chilled to near frostiness and golden in color, will take you straight to Paris when paired with a brie wrapped in pastry and baked until it’s warm and gooey. Serve with fresh fruit or fruit preserves, and you have potentially outdone the Impressionists.

Cuba Libre and Flan with Mandarins

If you’re planning a casual, fun night, this might be the combination to finish it right. Potentially underestimated, the rum and cola combination is acidic enough to work with the flan, spicy enough to add to it, and there’s just enough caramel in both of them to complete the harmony.  It’s like the Golden Mean, in dessert form.

Reposado Tequila and Dulce de Leche Ice Cream with Grilled Peaches

Dulce-Ice-Cream-with-PeachesBelieve it or not, tequila isn’t just meant for shots or margaritas. Instead, try sipping a mellow, aged reposado with orange and cinnamon alongside this creamy, sweet dish. It’s sugar, spice, and everything nice. Bonus: fry your ice cream, if you can, and you won’t need to go southwest to see a painted desert.

Whatever your favorite dishes are, there are ways to work them into an artistic dinner plan.  With enough practice, the canvas of your table will evolve into a gallery of flavors and textures.  Try combinations until what you’re tasting makes you happy, and remember: artists never got famous by playing it safe.  Either way, if all else fails, there’s always dessert!