We love the idea of seemingly opposing ideas or concepts that, when combined, miraculously come together to elevate one another; and certainly, food and art are no exception. The curators at Crystal Bridges painstakingly position artworks to create an experience of harmony and dissonance throughout both permanent and temporary exhibitions in the museum, a tactic designed to make guests think about art in a new way. There is no better example of this than the positioning of Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter next to Janet Sobel’s Hiroshima in the 1940s to Now Gallery at Crystal Bridges (above). Somehow both masterworks have more momentum, depth, and importance when experienced together than by themselves…
Chefs, cooks, gourmets, and gourmands alike live for these unexpected anomalies of opposing tastes that come together to make something scrumptious. Peanut butter and sriracha, cold mango with chilis, steamed broccoli and Cheetos, and goat milk with caramel are just a few such edible abnormalities that broach the status of culinary nirvana. In fact, it doesn’t get much more curious than Eleven’s own chicken and waffles, fortified with Chef Bill’s jalapeño syrup; or how about our signature Doublewide cookie, chock full of breakfast cereal and potato chips….hmmm, I mean, mmmmm!
Perhaps my most cherished flavor mash-up is that of fresh strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Although the Italians have been enjoying it for eons, it’s only been in the last 15 years or so that this combo has become a regular staple in my diet; whether in a salad, an entrée accoutrement, or fashionable dessert…the two flavors together are nothing short of extraordinary. I hope you enjoy our specially designed Strawberry and Balsamic Smash layered with rye whiskey, Ozark strawberries, balsamic vinegar from Modena, and fresh lemon squeezes. Hopefully you’ll see, taste, and experience both strawberries and balsamic vinegar in an entirely new way. Ciao/Chow!
Strawberry and Balsamic Smash
To make the syrup:
Combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon peel in a saucepan. Cover and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Once the sugar has dissolved and the strawberries have released liquid, bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir gently until the strawberries are tender, about 8 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked strawberries to a jar.
Continue simmering the juice until it thickens to a syrupy consistency, about 2 minutes. Discard lemon peel and pour syrup over berries. Let cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge for up to 1 month.
To make the cocktail:
Combine 4 fresh strawberries and the lemon in a cocktail shaker.
Add the strawberry syrup, balsamic, and rye, then fill shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Using the cocktail strainer strain the concoction into a glass. Garnish with a strawberry.