Photo: Jennifer Lawinski
A cup of instant coffee served with a high-end lunch and a spritz of perfume on the side? How many ways can we say this combination-event seemed off-the-beam? But this, in fact, was on the menu for the debut of the new Starbucks line of flavored VIA coffees.
The ubiquitous coffee company invited Slashfood to sample a tasting menu created by chef Sisha Ortúzar at Tom Colicchio's new Riverpark restaurant, in Manhattan, to highlight its four new flavors of Starbucks VIA instant coffees: Mocha, Caramel, Cinnamon and Vanilla.
The event was hosted by Starbucks and by New York Times Scent Critic Chandler Burr, who paired each coffee with a perfume that highlighted its flavor.
For the first course, Chef Ortúzar paired Starbucks Mocha VIA with a grilled chicken skewer accompanied by a mole dipping sauce, amping up the chocolate flavors in both the sauce and coffee. Burr paired the chocolate with Italian designer Missoni's Missoni perfume, which has a few chocolately, fruity notes of its own.
The Caramel VIA was paired with a "breakfast napoleon" which featured banana and seared pork belly, highlighting the smoky caramel flavor of the coffee. Adding some cream turned the coffee from a dark, buttery blend to a dulce de leche–flavored dream. The caramel was complemented by the honey, spicy Ambre Narguilé fragrance by Hermès.
Cinnamon Spice VIA was paired with a Mediterranean spiced beef–and-rice dish over squash. The slightly spiced meat helped draw out the cinnamon flavor in the coffee, which also became a richer, more dessertlike concoction with added cream. The cinnamon scent was enhanced by a whiff of Calvin Klein's Secret Obsession perfume, with its complex mix of floral, burnt amber, vanilla, and sandalwood.
For dessert, Ortúzar paired the Vanilla VIA with a wildflower honey–and apple panna cotta, creating a delicate sweet that brought the vanilla front and center. The final fragrance pairing enhanced the rich vanilla scent of the coffee -- Diptyque's Eau Duelle is itself vanilla based, with black frankincense.
Starbucks new VIA flavors are available now at Starbucks locations for a suggested retail price of $6.95 for six servings. Each combines Starbucks coffee, spices and cane sugar in individual packets that can be mixed with hot water to create single-serving beverages.