A less informed sweet tooth may think that popsicles are a nostalgic dessert best meant for undiscerning children. That would be a mistake.
Tiffany Dawn Soto has a super palate. This means she is among the less than 25% of all people who have the unusual ability to taste subtleties of flavor the rest of us average eaters simply cannot detect.
She is also a Master Sommelier with a specialty in sake. She is quite famous in the regional world of wine and spirits, having been hand-picked by celebrity Chef Michael Mina to manage the Four Seasons Hotel’s beverage operations. A massive job, she oversees all beer, wine and spirits sold in the upscale spot, which includes PABU, a Japanese Izakaya and Wit & Wisdom, my favorite coffee shop LAMILL, a catering division, a posh spa and Splash, a lovely bar adjacent to a boat-shaped infinity pool that is a peaceful oasis overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
When you imagine her super palate (perhaps her palate is not only figuratively but also physically larger, maybe the tongue wider or longer than normal, more surface area allowing for more taste buds) or think of all those wine and spirit facts taking up massive amounts of space in her brain; when you hear Tiffany’s confident, clipped accent (she does after all reveal the secrets of her super palate each time she voices a professional opinion), you subconsciously think of someone with stature and girth.
In fact, Tiffany is petite with long red hair and fine features. She has a twelve year old daughter and 7 month old baby girl. She shows me pictures of them on her iPhone. That super palate and incredible knowledge are overshadowed by the fact that she gracious and welcoming, someone I can instantly relate to.
And she makes awesome PopTails.
I met her to talk about these confections– a/k/a cocktails melded with ice cream, lusciously frozen on a stick. I’m game for most foods on a stick, especially when they are laced with liquor, and Tiffany’s concoctions are so interesting: Raspberry Beaujolais Cheesecake, Classic Mojito, Baltimore Orange Crush Dreamsicle with Citron Citrange and orange vodka, Pineapple MaiTai, Strawberry Basil Sangria….
I’ll take one of each, thank you!
Tiffany came up with the idea for PopTails-by-the-Pool when she heard about a Four Seasons corporate sales initiative aptly termed “Create to Inspire”. Her daughter, who loves to cook (they often turn to the Ben & Jerry’s Cookbook for inspiration) noticed Wine Sorbet flavored ice cream at the grocery. One taste was all she needed. “Why not pair my two favorite things? she says.
“Ice Cream and liquor is the perfect match”. With very little time but an abundance of aptitude, she instantly got to work developing recipes for her latest menu offering.
Getting the pops just right wasn’t easy. Essentially, the wine or spirit chemically bonds with the dessert base during production. The base freezes around the liquor as the mixture turns solid. Even ¼ cup too little or too much wine will prevent the base from freezing.
Conventional wisdom aside, too much liquor can also overwhelm the flavor of the pop. “A PopTail shouldn’t be too alcoholic” Tiffany advises. “The spirits should compliment and balance the flavors of the base.”
Tiffany’s ultimate job is to help folks have a good time.
PopTails do just that. With the Labor Day holiday weekend coming up, you may want to offer your weekend guests a frozen cocktail or two. Tiffany has done all the work with this recipe using fresh raspberries and Beaujolais wine.
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