Most people associate Angostura aromatic bitters with cocktails, but many savvy chefs including award winning Chef Israel Calderon, Executive Chef at the Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre, are exploring the flavors of Angostura along with food. At a recent lunch to celebrate the 2012 Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge, Chef Calderon prepared a lavish eight course meal that showcased the possibilities with bitters in food.
Some of the highlights from the meal included Bamboo Steamed Fish with Ginger-Oyster Sauce with lemongrass, Angostura and sugar. In this dish, the Angostura bitters brought together the ginger and oyster sauce and added a savory spice which complemented but didn’t overwhelm the fish. Lamb Chops with Cabernet-Angostura Glaze demonstrated the ability of the bitters to work in conjunction with wine to enhance the flavors of the lamb. The bitters along with sugar made an ideal glaze for the dish.
Perhaps the most exciting and unexpected use for Angostura bitters was in a Mango-Angostura and White Chocolate-Angostura Mouse which was presented both with and without Angostura aromatic bitters (for comparison). The dessert exemplified the bitters’ ability to bind and enhance flavors, very much the same way that it does in cocktails.
Andy Griffiths, 2011 winner of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge and current Global Brand Ambassador, spoke at the lunch about designing dishes drawing from the immense palate of flavors within Angostura bitters. One of his favorite uses is to dehydrate Angostura bitters in salt and use that along with other spices to dry rub meats for barbecue.
There’s a lot of new ground to be explored by using bitters with food. That little bottle with the over-sized label may very well become as much a fixture in kitchen spice racks as it is on cocktail back bars.