Nespresso’s Master Origin blends; Aged Sumatra and Papua New Guinea completes the dishes at Helm.
It is likely that you’ve heard of coffee pairing. A well-versed coffee aficionado knows that pairing should always be based on aromatics, body, and sweetness. While I personally think that it’s new and deserving of acclaim, I also believe that its popularity overshadows other interesting yet lesser-known pairings.
While we think that the perfect cup of coffee is only enhanced by a sweet edible treat on the side, Chef Josh Boutwood and Nespresso beg to differ. Their modern approach to pairing is shaped around the flavors of the limited edition arabica capsules.
This is apparent from the moment I arrived at Helm, a 12-seater restaurant in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Gleaming glassware, spotless carrara marble countertops, and a graceful pace of rekindling welcome us at the center show kitchen. But this doesn’t mean that tradition has disappeared—for starters, he served a robust prologue of hickory-smoked mussels on French toast, hamachi fish and chips, and jamon from Savage.
A light, raw tuna — the first course — turned out to be a solid blend for the Japanese cucumbers compressed in roasted sesame oil and avocado as the frothy cilantro emulsion helped cut through the rich fat. It was also topped with tapioca and naturium for added texture. The next course featured adlai, purple yam, and octopus, which has both funk and intense umami. What results is something that sports the pleasant grit of puffed adlai and the stretch of grilled local pulpo.
At a certain point Chef Boutwood harks back to why we’re really there: he brings out the Chilean sea bass, celeriac, kombu, and hazelnut with a cup of the limited edition Master Origin Papua New Guinea.
“I immediately knew that I needed to pair it with something that was a little bit more earthy, grounded, and almost floral in order for those particular coffee taste profiles to be exemplified slightly,” shared Chef Boutwood.
He lets the lightly steamed fish speak for itself. A small bite and a sip of coffee made for a beautiful union.
After more tableside descriptions, he brings out the short rib slow cooked for three days paired with the limited edition Master Origin Aged Sumatra. He asks if there are other Sumatra fans in the room—there were a few hands raised.
He says, “I’ve always loved coffee from Sumatra because of how robust it is. The limited edition Master Origin Aged Sumatra from Nespresso did not disappoint because it has this wonderful woody aroma. Hence, we [sought] to pair it with some wonderful roasted flavors.”
“We also wanted it to be delicate, [imbued with] chocolate tones that will linger. We [were keen on] incorporating an aged process, so the dish features aged meat which is going to carry all these flavors along,” he adds.
Chef Boutwood winds down the evening with black grapes, strawberry, lemongrass and textures of coconut, a stark white counterpoint to its black accompaniment. The ending is sweet and milky, while the frozen treat adds a bit of sugar and chill.
My heart testifies to an infatuation with dining out and maybe trying coffee pairing again—a welcome development, because if you asked me to do this a couple of months ago, I would have palpitated.
The Master Origin blends, Aged Sumatra and Papua New Guinea, are available for a limited time in local Nespresso boutiques located in Power Plant Mall, The Podium Mall, and Robinsons Magnolia, pop-up stores in Greenbelt 5, One Bonifacio High Street Mall, Shangri-La Mall, TriNoma, Alabang Town Center, SM Mall of Asia, and SM Aura, and online at www.nespresso.ph. Photos: Courtesy of Nespresso and @chefjoshboutwood