Most of us are familiar with pairing food with wine, but have you heard about pairing food with music? I’m sure not many of you have, but don’t worry, neither have I, until very recently. A few weeks ago, Barbara Werner, a LinkedIn contact, sent me a message asking if I would like to attend a musical pairing as her guest along with a guest of mine, at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse here in NY City. I have to admit, at first I was a bit skeptical but after a few messages, I see that she is quite serious about this. The concept sounded really interesting to me and since I love music and Ruth’s Chris, having been there a few times in the past, I jumped at the chance.
Barbara came up with this Musical Paring technique through a simple mathematical formula and has written a book about it and also has an Iphone app. The app for Android is currently in the works. The way it works is she assigns a numerical value to the food. FPN=Food Pairing Number which is based on the following:
Richness of the Sauce
Cooking Method (weight)
After you determine what your protein, sauce, cooking method and spice levels are you then assign it an MPN= Musical Pairing Number which will be based on the following:
After you find all of those numbers, your FPN will equal your MPN and you will have the perfect match for your dish. I am going to show you how it’s done using the App from my phone. The food example I am going to use is my Drunken Shrimp Scampi which can be found over here. The App asks me if it’s an Appetizer, Meal or Dessert. I click on Meal. Then there are the following categories: Cheese/Other Protein, Fish/Legumes/Tofu, Chicken/Shellfish/Eggs, Pork, Beef, Lamb/Game/Organ Meats. I click on the Chicken/Shellfish/Eggs category. Then it will ask you what type of sauce? The choices are Light or No sauce, Bechamel (white sauce made from a roux (butter and flour)), Veloute(a sauce made with chicken, veal or beef stock, cream and butter and flour), Espagnole(made with a dark brown roux, veal stock, butter and flour, along with browned bones, Hollandaise(an emulsion of liquid butter and egg yolks) and Tomato (tomato based). These are the 5 mother sauces known in French cooking. Since Shrimp Scampi has basically a light lemon/garlic sauce, I click on Light/No Sauce. Then it will ask me the Cooking Method, (Not cooked, Poach/Boil, Grill/Broil, Bake, Saute, Fry). I click on Saute and then it will ask me the spice level, None, Some, Spicy, Hot, and Fire. In my Drunken Shrimp Scampi there is no spice, so I click on None. Then it will ask me the genre of music I would like to listen to, Jazz, Country, Pop, Rock, Classical, Traditional and Show Tunes. For this type of dish I would like to listen to Classical, so I click on that choice. Then it will ask me, if I want a beverage recommendation as well. It will ask you if you are 21 or older and will give you an alcoholic beverage choice. The musical pairings are the same whether you are over 21 or not. Some of the pieces are: Canon in D Major by the London Philharmonic, Granada by Placido Domingo and several others.
This is really a wonderful idea to pair music with food and beverages. Perfect for a single person, as Barbara is now, to go out for dinner and not have to worry about her surroundings, music can be her companion! But, you certainly don’t have to do this concept if you are dining alone! Oh no, you can do it when you are hosting a small dinner for one or two of your friends, or a dinner party of 10 or more! Just plug in all the categories and the app will come up with your musical pairing! To read more about it, here is the link to Barbara’s website. To download the app for your Iphone, you can get it over here at the app store.
The Musical Paring dinner at Ruth’s Chris was held on the evening of February 25, 2015. There were about 12-15 other people at this event. As soon as we walked into the private room that was set up, we were greeted with glasses of Prosecco. I found Barbara and introduced myself and my husband to her . Barbara is a delightful woman who makes you feel right at ease with her charm and wit. After speaking for a while, it was time to start.
Vanilla Ice Cream
Musical Pairing and beverage: First with Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major
Next with Los Toreadors from Act I of Carmen
Dessert first? Hmmm, ok why not! I like the idea of having dessert first, something sweet to cleanse your palate! (although if you want dessert, wait until you see the 2 actual desserts below!!!) So I took a taste of the ice cream and most of the time vanilla ice cream is nothing special, it’s just vanilla ice cream. Ruth’s Chris serves a very rich vanilla ice cream, but still ice cream, nonetheless. When I listened to the music the ice cream somehow came to life! It became special, not just ordinary ice cream. I’m thinking wow this is great!! If she can make vanilla ice cream taste better than it actually does, what can she do with the actual delicious food that Ruth’s Chris serves!! I couldn’t wait to taste the rest of the food on the menu and hear the songs that were paired with it! The musical pairing and drink choice for the ice cream was the Prosecco. First musical choice with Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major and next with Los Toreadors from Act I of Carmen
So without further ado, here is the menu for the evening.
Ahi Tuna with a Mustard Glaze
Musical pairing and beverage: We Got the Beat by The Go-Go’s
Absolutely delicious tuna, perfectly seared and rare inside paired with, We got the Beat which was a perfect choice. Prosecco was also the perfect beverage pairing, so light and refreshing.
Musical pairing and beverage: Cruise by Florida Georgia Line
Tequila with a lime twist
Perfectly tender, fried calamari that was not greasy at all but I certainly didn’t expect that it would be. Cruise by Florida Georgia Line paired perfectly with this seafood dish as did the tequila shot. I’m not usually one to drink straight tequila very often, but it went quite well with this dish and the music.
Osso Bucco Ravioli
Musical Pairing and beverage: Let the Rivers Run from Working Girl
To get me to drink and actually like red wine is a difficult task, but somehow Barbara made it work with her musical pairing, and the choice of food. This Osso Bucco ravioli was divine, with its richness and full flavor. Perfectly paired with the rich Pinot Noir.
Stuffed Chicken Breast with Sweet Potato Casserole
Musical Pairing and beverage: White Room by Cream
Maker’s Mark Manhattan
Never did I think I could actually say that a Maker’s Mark Manhattan would taste good, but yet paired with the music, the sweet potato casserole and the chicken, it did. What can I say, it just works!
Filet Mignon with Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
Musical Pairing: Nessum Dorma by Luciano Pavarotti
Ok, are you ready for one of Ruth’s Chris’ signature steaks? Perfectly cooked and as soft as butter where you don’t even need teeth to chew it…LOL!!! The filet with a side of delicious mashed potatoes and asparagus paired with a selection from Luciano Pavarotti went perfectly well together, like a match made in heaven!
Crème Brulee with an Espresso Martini
Musical Pairing: It Had to Be You by Harry Connick Jr
Are you all ready for dessert? There are two of them, three, if you count the ice cream that we first had!! Although you cannot compare ice cream to these treasures! Let’s start with the Creme Brulee! Absolutely delicious, totally creamy, melt in your mouth type of creamy!! Savor every mouthful! Pair it with It Had to Be You, along with the Espresso Martini, and you are in musical and culinary heaven! But wait, there is more! Let’s continue to the last part of our Musical Pairing dinner. Last, but certainly NOT least! For all you chocolate lovers, read on!!
Chocolate Sin Cake
Musical Pairing: Gangsta Paradise by Coolio
After eating this you will definitely be a sinner!! This cake was so decadent, so rich, so delicious. The sensation on my tongue and in my mouth were out of this world. Pair it with music and some of that Espresso Martini and you will float away! Float away on a cloud of rich dark chocolate!
So in closing, I would like to thank Barbara Werner for inviting myself and my husband to your Musical Pairing dinner. We had a wonderful time. Great company, food and certainly the music! It was a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to working with you again in the future!