Daring Pairing #5: Pedro Ximénez Snow Cones
Why we think it will work:
Branden: PX sherry is so thick and rich it’s practically a syrup. It’s often drizzled over vanilla ice cream (which is drool infinity). Snow cones are the next logical step, yeah (they’re more portable)? Also, I’ve never really cared for snow cones so I figured I’d give them one last day in court by drowning them in sticky sweet booze. If they ain’t good after that, then they ain’t good no how no way. Guilty. Get ‘em out of my face.
Lauren: Once you’ve had PX with ice cream you instantly start thinking of all the other things you can pour it over: tiramisu, pound cake, steak, a flip-flop, etc. Like B said, snow cones seem to be one of the first small jumps on that list and we were going mini-golfing anyway so **shrugs.**
P.S. PX popsicles? It just hit me.
Our conclusion: 3/5
Snow cones are stupid. I don’t care who I lose as a friend. I said it.
The first few bites are okay, even interesting, but they very quickly melt and then refreeze into a solid teeth-shattering little iceberg. Furthermore, they’re not great vehicles for flavor. Within, I don’t know, say thirty seconds nearly all of the syrup has migrated to the bottom of the cone where it will stay until you kick back that final shot of melty purple-ish slush and definitely miss your mouth a little and you’re definitely wearing a white shirt and the sixteen-year-old girls behind you are definitely laughing at you and not with you. Sure that last gulp is tasty (in a self-hating kind of way) but is it really worth cutting your lip on frozen water for a good fifteen minutes to get to it? Maybe just order a cherry Coke? At least you can set the bastard down when it’s your turn to putt. The clown at hole 13 will not be bested by a one-hander (I know, I tried).
The reason this 'pairing' still gets 3 points is because anything with PX on it gets 3 points (at a minimum). That’s the rule we all agreed to when we started walking upright.
PX sherry is fucking delicious. And the snow cone wasn’t a bad pairing per se (i.e., the PX didn’t clash with, ya know, ice). It just wasn’t a great delivery system. The aforementioned issues with snow cones were only worsened by the addition of PX sherry. It’s viscous, sure, but not like the neon-hued glucose snot that’s been designed to stick to crushed ice. Add this to the fact that the bottle we picked up on our way over (Osborne 1827 solera) was maybe even a little more fluid than most (no less delicious though).
In the end though it was a fun pairing and, ya know, a conversation starter. I think we may have had better luck with Hawaiian shave ice (actually shaved rather than just crushed) which is more the consistency of fresh snow and, as such, much better as soaking up liquids. As luck would have it we recently picked up a child’s shave ice machine, similar to the old-school Snoopy machine (those of us at the shallow end of the millennial pool may remember those), at a thrift store for $3. We’ll be testing it out soon and maybe we’ll put a splash of PX on top and maybe we’ll tell you how it goes. K bai.
Vote for Pedro
Pedro Ximénez* (often referred to simply as “PX”) is a white Spanish grape variety grown widely in the Denominación de Origen (DO) of Montilla-Moriles. It is used to make a very sweet wine of the same name. This is achieved by allowing the grapes to reach full maturity on the vine and then further concentrating their sugars by drying them in the sun—a process referred to as “asoleo” (There are a lot of fun mnemonics for remembering this).
Technically (and legally) the wines produced entirely, grape to bottle, in this region cannot be called “sherry” since they are located outside the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry region. This is despite the fact that they are very similar in profile and classified according to a nearly identical system i.e., fino, amontillado, oloroso, PX, etc. However, since PX grapes grow so exceedingly well in this region and not so well in Jerez-Xérès-Sherry (too much humidity, among other things) an exception was made specifically to allow PX wine produced in Montilla-Moriles to be sent to Jerez-Xérès-Sherry to refresh the PX soleras of sherry-producing bodegas. The resulting aged and bottled product can then legally be called “sherry.”
Sherry or not, Spanish PX is a luscious and luxurious treat. The best examples are complex beyond explanation, and capable of considerable aging (both in barrel and bottle) with notes of raisin, dried fig, honey, almond, tobacco, and chocolate (among many, many others).
It is often consumed at the end of a meal, alongside, or in place of, desert. It’s an obvious match for anything with dried fruit (such as bread pudding or prune pie) but it’s also a rich and delicious counterpoint to cream-based desserts: cheesecake is next level and, I’ll say again, poured over vanilla ice cream it is literally orgasm-inducing. Older, more complex examples are a nice match for savory foods such as pâté (think: foie gras and Sauternes) or good quality blue cheese.
We often sip a little as a night cap and use it regularly in cocktails (though we usually recommend no more than say 1/4 oz. in cocktails, as it can be a bit of a bully).
Expect to spend at least $20 for a decent bottle but don’t be afraid to spend a little (or a lot) more. A little goes a long way and an open bottle of PX will last for some time if refrigerated.** The high sugar content acts as a preservative and it’s already no stranger to oxidation. Some consistently good (and generally affordable) producers to look out for: Alvear, Osborne, Lustau, Noe, and Hidalgo.
How did we get into mini-golf
with a bottle of sherry?
Peter Pan mini-golf, in Austin, TX, is BYOB (apparently so is a lot of mini-golf, who knew?). Technically glass bottles are prohibited but no one, including the single employee, who was stoned, seemed to pay this much heed. We showed up with a full 750ml bottle but you could easily pack along a small flask if you’re nervous and just order a water-flavored snow cone. In our case we had to tell the aforementioned single employee what we were doing before he agreed to turn the snow cone machine back on (we got there a little late). He thought it was a good idea.
“Oh, no way, that sounds rad, what’s sherry?” etc., etc.
We made some friends.
*Not to be confused with Pedro Giménez, the related Argentine variety often used in the production of Chilean pisco. Smh.
**There is, annoyingly, still a fair amount of debate about this issue but these are the facts: Refrigerate your wine after it is opened. It doesn’t matter what color it is or if it’s fortified. It will become unpalatable much much more quickly if you don't and refrigeration has no negative effect. Don’t confuse serving temperature with storage temperature. Make note of bars who don’t refrigerate things like vermouth and make sure to order your Manhattans elsewhere.