Dish: Traditional Cobb salad
Pairing: “With herbal notes from watercress, romaine and tomato as the foundation of this salad, we’re immediately reaching for a bright blanco; throwing in the bacon, egg and Roquefort, we’ll lean towards a producer that packs maximum impact, Astral, which rocks powerful fruit and mineral notes.”
Dish: Burger and fries
Pairing: “Taking into account the smoky grilled beef, and the crispy, indulgent fries, I’d go all the way with a hedonistic, highly-textural lowland añejo with notes of sweet smoke, caramel and earth. Partida Añejo stands out as the perfect foil.”
Dish: Spaghetti with marinara
Pairing: “Classic marinara is all about freshness – bright tomatoes, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), garlic and basil. This screams for an electric style of blanco, with loads of pure agave flavor matching the vegetal notes of the sauce. The highly traditional Fortaleza Blanco is my pick for pairing success.”
Dish: Mac and cheese
Pairing: “Hand-turned pasta, creamy béchamel and sharp cheddar call for an equally rich and creamy product. My favorite pick for this feel-good combination is Fortaleza Reposado, with its broad mineral notes and subtle spice.”
Dish: Pad Thai
Pairing: “Great Pad Thai is about the balance between sour and savory, with really bright notes of lime and tamarind, along with umami fish sauce and, in my favorite rendition, shrimp. Single-estate Tequila Ocho ‘El Refugio’ expresses both a saline freshness and a nutty umami note. Perfect harmony.”
Pairing: “Triple-distilled, and uniquely aged in new French oak barrels, Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Añejo shares notes of brown butter and graham that are perfectly matched to this purist dessert.”
Dish: Pecan pie
Pairing: “The concentration of butter, brown sugar and toasted pecans screams out for something with comparable richness. Cuervo Reserva de la Familia, an extra añejo, carries the sort of concentration of sweet spice necessary to create a flavor bridge to my favorite dessert.”
And at Upward Projects’ Joyride Taco House? Karlicek’s top pick for a tequila pairing is the pork adobada tacos (guajillo chile-braised pork, cabbage, cilantro, radish and onion) with the raspberry-ancho margarita (Rancho Alegre blanco tequila, house-made raspberry syrup, house sour and Ancho Reyes, a tequila-based spirit infused with ancho chile, cocoa and cinnamon). “There’s just such a gorgeous intensity of flavor – a richness, and this sort of sweet spice from the chile,” Karlicek says of the pork tacos. Combined with the fruity, slightly spicy cocktail, there’s “a beautiful matching level of heat intensity. The intensity matches up front, and on the finish the citrus just cleans up your whole palate.”
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