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Pairing water with food??? C'mon now -- is this for real?

CindyJ Nov 5, 2013 06:02 AM

I read a post on another board offering the sale of prepaid reservations at a Chicago restaurant. The post mentioned that the price of the meal includes "water pairings." Admittedly, I'm not the most sophisticated diner around, but pairing water with food seems pretty farfetched to me. A bit of Googling on the subject turned up more than I ever would have imagined, including a soon-to-be-published book entitled, "Finewaters Guide Book -- A Connoisseur's Guide to the World of Premium Bottled Waters."

Should we expect to see water menus alongside the wine lists in our favorite restaurants? Is this to be taken seriously -- or is it a case of the Emperor's New Clothes revisited?

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  1. Chemicalkinetics RE: CindyJ Nov 5, 2013 07:36 AM

    :) I think I may have made a post about the water pairing thing. Yes, it is very unique. 45 pages of water pairing: http://eater.com/archives/2013/08/06/...

    I have never seen a menu that is 45 pages, let's alone a water menu for 45 pages. :P

    7 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
      Monica RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2013 11:03 AM

      i just looked at their water menu...I geneally like the one with a nice balance and structure and with enough sweetness with slight acidity. The one that has chocolate note. It's just that i don't know which bottle has that characteristics.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
        CindyJ RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 7, 2013 06:53 AM

        A 45-page water menu!!! That has to be the epitome of pretentiousness!

        1. re: CindyJ
          Veggo RE: CindyJ Nov 7, 2013 07:27 AM

          How about a water sampler, as is done with beers and scotch - 7 little glasses of water! Yum! Maybe some stale bread to go with it.

          1. re: Veggo
            LotusRapper RE: Veggo Nov 7, 2013 09:37 AM

            Maybe a 10-page menu for stale breads ......

            1. re: LotusRapper
              Veggo RE: LotusRapper Nov 7, 2013 09:40 AM

              Good idea -gotta cleanse that palate between waters!

              1. re: Veggo
                Chemicalkinetics RE: Veggo Nov 7, 2013 09:53 AM

                I think you two are missing the point. You need 75 pages of stale breads to go along with the 75 pages of water. One special water to drink along with one particular stale bread. This is why these are "pairing" water. 10 pages menu of stale bread is just not enough.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  LotusRapper RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 7, 2013 09:55 AM

                  That's why you're the Master Po and I'm the Grasshopper ......

      2. tcamp RE: CindyJ Nov 5, 2013 08:02 AM

        I'm going to go with option B.

        1. LotusRapper RE: CindyJ Nov 5, 2013 10:25 AM

          I heard through undisclosed sources that the new trend following the water-pairing is air-pairing.

          Bottles of street-level air from various foodie cities (Paris, NYC, SF, Buenos Aires, Rome, Tokyo, Sydney, HK, Singapore) are collected and released through high-tech HVAC systems in select Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. Currently there are no plans to collect air from Beijing or London due to healthy liabilities. In between courses, the restaurants' HVAC shall release the "standard" air of their respective cities, as to neutralize the patrons' olfactory, before proceeding to the next courses and paired air.

          Stay tuned, but don't hold your breath ..........

          8 Replies
          1. re: LotusRapper
            Chemicalkinetics RE: LotusRapper Nov 5, 2013 10:32 AM

            This is why I start to hate the human race.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              Veggo RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2013 10:37 AM

              And why little veggo (and I) prefer the Yucatan jungle.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                LotusRapper RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2013 10:45 AM

                And which race are you, CK ? ;-)

                1. re: LotusRapper
                  Chemicalkinetics RE: LotusRapper Nov 5, 2013 10:54 AM

                  I have mentioned this many times before, but you probably miss it. I am an orc.



                  Among my race, we don't have a water pairing menu with our food. We don't tolerate BS like this.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    LotusRapper RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2013 11:03 AM

                    LOL ! This is too good.

                    PS: char siu bao is one of my fave comfort foods too. We got some real good ones here in town: NTB being one of 'em:


                    Look at that, eh ? :-D http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-k-uimwhb7OY...

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  C. Hamster RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 5, 2013 04:18 PM


                3. re: LotusRapper
                  KaimukiMan RE: LotusRapper Nov 12, 2013 07:07 PM

                  I guess you have never driven through the Caldecott tunnel after spending a week in the Central Valley of California and been almost assaulted by the smell of salt and the dampness of a foggy summer evening in the Bay Area. Or deplaned in Singapore or Honolulu and smelled the rich ripe tropical air, dripping with floral scents - strong enough even to temper the jet fuel saturated air at the concourse. How about the ion charged air in the high Sierras after a thunderstorm? And it has been years since I have been in a snowfield, but can anyone really forget that smell? Waking up in the middle of the night and knowing it has snowed in the pitch black because of that unique smell. Why, it smells almost like… like… well, water! Air is anything but boring if you take the time to notice it. It's like saying that rice, potatoes, or bread have no flavor of their own.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan
                    EWSflash RE: KaimukiMan Nov 12, 2013 07:42 PM

                    I agree with you, I love the smells of different countries (I haven't been to that many).

                4. DockPotato RE: CindyJ Nov 5, 2013 01:58 PM

                  What you like some freshly grated ice on that, M'am?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: DockPotato
                    LotusRapper RE: DockPotato Nov 5, 2013 02:28 PM

                    "That depends where the ice came from, and how long it's been aged."

                    1. re: LotusRapper
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: LotusRapper Nov 5, 2013 02:29 PM

                      According to pink skin (human), the temperature of aging is very important.

                    2. re: DockPotato
                      Kate is always hungry RE: DockPotato Nov 11, 2013 09:14 PM

                      "Um, do you have 800,000 to 1.5 million year old Arctic ice core sample ice?"

                      1. re: Kate is always hungry
                        LotusRapper RE: Kate is always hungry Nov 11, 2013 09:29 PM

                        Waiter: "Yes in fact we do, Miss. We price it at $0.05 per 1000 years of age, the best value in all of Manhattan."

                    3. t
                      therealdoctorlew RE: CindyJ Nov 5, 2013 02:36 PM

                      Molecular gastronomy has picked up on this, with sous vide ice cubes and sparkling water foam. However, several sous chefs were severely burned preparing the deconstructed water (hydrogen plus oxygen, I think).

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: therealdoctorlew
                        Chemicalkinetics RE: therealdoctorlew Nov 5, 2013 03:14 PM

                        < several sous chefs were severely burned preparing the deconstructed water>

                        This is so sad. They should let the professional (engineers and scientists) handle the reaction. Combing hydrogen and oxygen is a very violent reaction.

                        1. re: therealdoctorlew
                          Caroline1 RE: therealdoctorlew Nov 5, 2013 03:18 PM

                          Molecular gastronomist should be required to take a few chemistry and physics classes in culinary school! '-)

                          1. re: Caroline1
                            LotusRapper RE: Caroline1 Nov 5, 2013 03:56 PM


                        2. Caroline1 RE: CindyJ Nov 5, 2013 03:14 PM

                          Even though P.T. Barnum never really said, "There's a sucker born every minute," he should have because that saying is sooooo "on the nose!"

                          Sometimes I think America and Japan are trying to outdo each other. The first "water bars" I ever heard of came at the height of the Japanese "Bubble Economy," when teensy weensy houses in Tokyo were a million bucks, and the banks of that country were offering 100 year mortgages, but only to couples with children with exceptionally high GPAs in school, and the kids were part of the "family package"... At that time, the most expensive water in Tokyo water bars was "Million Year Old Water" sold by the glass. It was water from icebergs calved from glaciers in the arctic, which were then towed to Japan by tug boats, melted down and sold. At ridiculous prices!

                          Air bars? As in air captured from all over the world? Anyone else remember Edward G. Robinson's scene in Soylent Green, where "for a price" he could be/was euthenased while watching pristine Alp scenery from a time past when there really was pristine Alp scenery? hmmm.. Can I order a canister of air burdened with the aroma of fresh lemon blossoms of my youth? How about the air that I breathed walking past a bakery in Munich? Hey, this idea has some possibilities! Or is there just some screenwriter out there writing a new Star Trek movie of an "Air and Water Bar" on a distant planet where Earthlings can get a taste of home?

                          Sounds a lot better to me than Earthlings in L.A. and N.Y.C. paying top bucks for such foolishness... <sigh>

                          I am SUCH a curmudgeon! '-)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Caroline1
                            DockPotato RE: Caroline1 Nov 6, 2013 03:35 AM

                            Hold on a minute now. We did (do?) have O2 bars, remember?

                            1. re: DockPotato
                              Caroline1 RE: DockPotato Nov 7, 2013 08:49 AM

                              Yeah. I've got a couple in my kitchen! One at the sink, one in the refrigerator door. What more can I need?

                              Oh. Wait a minute. This isn't about "needs," is it! '-)

                          2. l
                            Linda VH RE: CindyJ Nov 6, 2013 03:49 AM

                            A number of years ago we had the pleasure (DH's pocketbook wasn't pleased lol!) of having a wonderful dinner at 3 star Michelin La Pergola in Rome. They brought me a menu with no prices (my choice as I really didn't want to know) but gave me a water menu. Back then the cheapest was 10 Euro - I of course chose a wonderful water which tasted like........water.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Linda VH
                              mwhitmore RE: Linda VH Nov 7, 2013 07:49 AM

                              What higher compliment?

                            2. i
                              INDIANRIVERFL RE: CindyJ Nov 7, 2013 07:39 AM

                              Of course we are going to see this. Remember the derision of beer pairings 15 to 20 years ago?

                              The hospitality business is designed to separate customers from their cash. This is just another arrow in the quiver. And I am sure the storage costs for water are far less than humidity and temperature controlled spaces for wine, beer, and cigars.

                              And at only 45 pages, the water list has a long way to go to approach the wine menu at Berne's in Tampa.

                              1. b
                                Bkeats RE: CindyJ Nov 7, 2013 09:15 AM

                                Does all water taste the same to you? Not to me and I'm not talking just about bottled water. Living in NYC, we have pretty good tap water, but I've traveled enough to taste a lot of different water. Some of it is just "water" but some is pretty bad and others in comparison are much better. Despite the popular concept of water being tasteless (and perhaps true for distilled water), there is quite a bit of variety. I know I have a distinct preference for different mineral waters. If you think all water tastes the same, well there are some people who think all, beer, wine, vodka, etc. tastes the same. I still think a water tasting menu is silly though.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Bkeats
                                  EWSflash RE: Bkeats Nov 12, 2013 07:53 PM

                                  no, it doesn't. In southwestern AZ, we have a blend of groundwater (which is good) and CAP water (piped in from the Colorado river, in open channels for hundreds of miles and is salty and gross). My workplace has well water. It's a world of difference. I save gallon iced tea botles and fill them with water from work, because my aquarium does much better with our local groundwater, and always has. I thnk it's hilarious that we have such a huge bottled water bill in my dept, because once the necessary chlorine is gone, the water tastes really, really good. And it's naturaly mildly fluoridated. The tap water at home has a minerally taste, even after the chlorine is filtered out, and I don't care for it. But I can drink it if I had to.

                                2. c
                                  chowyadoin99 RE: CindyJ Nov 7, 2013 09:29 AM

                                  "is this for real?"

                                  Not so much. The Chicago place in question is an uber-pretentious restaurant called NEXT, which among other things totally "re-invents" itself a couple times a year (thereby garnering 3 or 4 times more publicity per year than other restaurants - clever.) They only do multi-course pairings dinners anyway. The "water pairings" menu isn't some special big deal, it's just the regular menu but without alcohol.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: chowyadoin99
                                    deet13 RE: chowyadoin99 Nov 7, 2013 11:49 PM

                                    This whole post reminds me of the bottled water episode of Penn and Teller's, "Bullsh*t!"

                                    See link, and there's a NSFW language warning...

                                  2. hopeh RE: CindyJ Nov 7, 2013 09:46 AM

                                    I have to go with BKeats on this one, especially when recalling the water I drank in scenic downtown Newark some decades ago. Whatever they used for water treatment definitely lent its own insouciance (lol) to the meal. And of course we all know the taste differences among branded waters. Some of the European ones are god-awful. I'd pay THEM to avoid it. I like many city waters, and my local one is terrific.

                                    The taste of a local water can make a big difference in the food, too. Who wants pasta or rice cooked in lousy water? Who wants a stock made from it? Some restaurants use filtered water to cook with if they live in a stinky water locale. So I don't believe it's a waste of money to pair a water with your meal at all.

                                    We rarely go out to eat; however, it's usually for Indian, Chinese, Mexican, etc., with flavors strong enough to override subtle differences in water flavors. At home, even my "plain" food, such as pot roasts, stews, chili, etc., are seriously flavorful. The garlic in my standard spaghetti and meatball sauce probably sterilizes it, too, so pairing the water with it would be silly.

                                    CindyJ, do you know what type of food is served at that restaurant? Is it subtle enough that water flavor would make a difference?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: hopeh
                                      Chemicalkinetics RE: hopeh Nov 7, 2013 09:51 AM

                                      <Who wants pasta or rice cooked in lousy water? Who wants a stock made from it?>

                                      Yes, but these are not arguments for the topic. Who wants lousy salt anyway, but do you need a 75-pages for the salt selection for your meal.

                                      Chef, please use the sun dried salt from Saudi Arabia for my pasta, and my wife here would like her lamb to be cooked in the mined salt from Mongolia.

                                      That is the point here, not that we cannot taste difference in different water.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        hopeh RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 8, 2013 08:15 PM

                                        CK, I was responding to the question raised about if it was b.s. or not, and if it was kind of silly or useless. It has a use, imo, because waters taste different, just as wines do, theoretically making for good/poor pairings. Thus my reply was on-topic. I've never done it since that kind of restaurant doesn't appeal to me, even if I could afford it. Also, I know there are people who say they can taste the difference between salts, but I can't, to respond to the rest of what you wrote.

                                        1. re: hopeh
                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: hopeh Nov 8, 2013 08:26 PM

                                          My understanding is that we know water can taste differently based in the impurities in it. This is a major reason why people buy water filter.

                                          As for salt, I know you can taste the difference. There may not be a huge difference between the sea salt you buy from supermarket and the table salt are very similar and you will unlikely to tell the difference. However, different mineral salt will taste different to you because of the impurities in them -- just like water.


                                          Same thing for sure. Most of us can taste the difference between white cane sugar vs brown cane sugar vs HFCS vs honey vs ....etc.

                                      2. re: hopeh
                                        CindyJ RE: hopeh Nov 7, 2013 01:37 PM

                                        I'm not personally familiar with the restaurant, which, as chowyadoin99 says above, is a place called Next. A quick look at their website reveals nothing of the food content of the menu; all it says is, "The current menu is the Bocuse d'Or. The menu runs until the end of December 2013."

                                        1. re: CindyJ
                                          chowyadoin99 RE: CindyJ Nov 7, 2013 04:08 PM

                                          LOL that's exactly the kind of place it is! "You want to know what you're going to be served? How plebian!"

                                          1. re: chowyadoin99
                                            Caroline1 RE: chowyadoin99 Nov 7, 2013 11:32 PM

                                            If the price of the meal doesn't exceed the price of a round trip fare to Paris, a Bocuse d'Or menu could be a real gem! ...If you like "small plates" dining, of course. '-)

                                      3. jrvedivici RE: CindyJ Nov 7, 2013 09:51 AM

                                        I prefer a dryer water, with a very subtle and dry finish.

                                        1. b
                                          beevod RE: CindyJ Nov 7, 2013 09:54 AM

                                          Retarded people have to eat, too.

                                          1. s
                                            shezmu RE: CindyJ Nov 8, 2013 02:50 PM

                                            Want a wine pairing? That'll be $191 dollars.

                                            Want a water pairing? That'll be $191 dollars.

                                            FRICKING BRILLIANT!!!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: shezmu
                                              LotusRapper RE: shezmu Nov 8, 2013 03:15 PM

                                              John 2: 7-9
                                              7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
                                              8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so,
                                              9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.

                                              1. re: LotusRapper
                                                Caroline1 RE: LotusRapper Nov 11, 2013 01:58 AM

                                                And if you keep filling and refilling unglazed clay jars with wine, in time you too can do that! Unglazed clay is the secret.

                                            2. EWSflash RE: CindyJ Nov 12, 2013 07:38 PM

                                              Shite- I'm just glad if the tap water doesn't taste like it came from an indoor swimming pool. We use a water service at home, but we go get the water in order to avoid the horrendous delivery fees.
                                              But I don't think I would ever go to a place that had the yarbles to announce a water pairing with its meals. I understand completely that a lot of people don't want to drink alcohol, but this just seems like smoke and mirrors and giving the people an alternative scenario in case they really, really miss the alcohol-centric rituals.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: EWSflash
                                                Chemicalkinetics RE: EWSflash Nov 12, 2013 07:43 PM

                                                I want a hot coco paring menu. :D

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                  LotusRapper RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 12, 2013 08:50 PM

                                                  That's cocoa ;-)

                                                  1. re: LotusRapper
                                                    Chemicalkinetics RE: LotusRapper Nov 12, 2013 09:14 PM


                                                    1. re: LotusRapper
                                                      Caroline1 RE: LotusRapper Nov 12, 2013 10:42 PM

                                                      Not if he's talking coconut water! '-)

                                                  2. re: EWSflash
                                                    Caroline1 RE: EWSflash Nov 12, 2013 10:51 PM

                                                    Well, one of the great mysteries of my lifetime is Perrier water... I first began drinking it in the late '50s, and the darling little artisian well in France whence the water came was being pushed full bore to bottle all that could possibly be captured. It wasn't much. Wasn't available much beyond Europe, if even beyond France. Yet today that poor little natural artisian well produces a quantity of water to fill the Pacific Ocean! How did they do that???????

                                                    There is also one water-of-yore that I do miss. It was called Calso Water, was a natural mineral water, somewhat tingly (as in naturally carbonated) as I recall. To the best of my knowledge, it's no longer bottled. And yup... I'd pay a fairly hefty tag for just one more bottle of that! Perrier? Well, it comes in a damned cute bottle! '-)

                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                      CindyJ RE: Caroline1 Nov 13, 2013 07:17 AM

                                                      >>> Perrier? Well, it comes in a damned cute bottle! '-) <<<

                                                      And therein lies the secret of "designer" bottled water's success! It's 99.9% packaging and .1% content.

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