I hope you've had a chance to open up your box of goodies, but if you haven't, now is a great time. Dim the lights. Light up your favorite candle. Grab a partner or a friend. Turn on some mellow mood music. Grab a knife, some scissors, maybe a set of particularly sharp keys, and gently glide right through that tape holding your box together.
Nice. That's the good stuff. Let's do a little unboxing session--have fun with it! Take out your six bottles of soda and two tasting glasses and put them in the fridge. If you're in a rush, put them in the freezer, but don't forget about them in there.
Your soda is chilling, so you should be too. Why not get to know that person you grabbed to join in this pairing with you? Got time to spare? Maybe take out your rice crispies and line 'em up. Get out a couple of plates. But don't dig in just yet.
Once the sodas and glasses are nice and cold, and the conversation is getting hot, it's time to begin.
Pairing #1: Blueberry Pancakes and Maple Root Beer
Sprecher maple root beer is made with real maple syrup, and Carrie's blueberry pancake rice crispie treats are made with--real pancakes?
I don't know about that last part, but the chemistry here is obvious. As you take this first step in your pairing journey, take note of the flavors and textures around you.
Dive deep into the carby, comforting crunchiness of the puffed rice. Enjoy the subtle clash between the bright, lightly acidic blueberries and the cloying sweetness of the syrup. Ride the wave to the end and let the refreshing wintergreen finish bring your tasting experience to completion.
How are we feeling? Good? Good.
Take a moment to rest and digest. Give those glasses a quick rinse, and to keep the mood right, let them chill again.
Have another little chat with that person who's joining you on this journey into the flavorverse. Once you're both ready for round two, get on with it.
Pairing #2: Cherry Cola and Chocolate Covered Cherry
Close your eyes. No, wait, then you can't read this. Open your eyes, and imagine closing your eyes. Pack your bags, because we are about to go on a little trip.
Do you know what gives cola its name? Cola is named after the kola nut, an exotic tropical nut that grows deep in the African rainforest. The cocoa beans in chocolate, meanwhile, grow deep in the tropical rainforests of South and Central America. In this pairing, two continents of flavor collide.
Crunch right into a crispy crispie speckled with tart, semi-sweet chocolate coated cherries. Then, wash it down with a river of scrumptious cherry cola flavored with locally sourced Door County cherry juice.
This is a cherry good time. Cherish the moment, collect yourself, and take another pause to rest and digest.
Rinse out those glasses, chill them, and chill yourselves out. Find a window. Look out over the horizon. Can you see that? One more wave of flave is headed your way.
Pairing #3: Grape Soda and Jelly Donut
Time for the penultimate part of your pairing parade, the peak of your tasting experience when you reach the pinnacle of pleasure.
What was that, you ask?
That was me revving you up to try a Jelly Donut rice crispie treat. What unholy transformation is this? Who is this divine craftswoman Carrie that can take the concept of a Jelly Donut and through the power of the mind re-create it from mere puffed rice and marshmallow? It is not ours to question why. It is just ours to enjoy.
A donut is infinite because it is a circle, but paradoxically, it has a hole in the middle. A jelly donut crispie resolves this paradox by packing the negative space with deliciousness. The result is that you have now come to a positive place. A place where you are positively ready to slurp on a soda made with real concord grape juice.
So do it. Slurp the soda. When was the last time you really let yourself unabashedly slurp down a soda? Maybe as a child at a family party, at the movie theater, or in the lunchroom? Go back to that place in your mind as you revisit the joy of the slurp.
Yes, you just had a grape soda and a jelly donut flavored rice crispie. And you shared that moment with a dear friend. But you also had a memory. A feeling of nostalgia, of time gone by and revisited again.
As you rinse out your glasses for the last time, share that memory with your partner on this journey.
Pairing #4 - Cinnamon Crunch and a Glass of Milk
You have just revisited your childhood, and perhaps that reminded you of enjoying a nice big bowl of breakfast cereal on Saturday mornings. If that didn't come up for you, it is about to.
As a final treat, have a cinnamon crunch crispie with a glass of milk. Or, if you prefer, a non-dairy alternative. Anything that evokes the feeling of eating a bowl of cereal will do.
Listen, I could keep writing you a flowery meditation on pairings, but I think you've had enough. I don't need to tell you what you're tasting anymore, because you know better than I do. Enjoy this last crispie and drink without me telling you what to think.
Pairing #5 - You and the Person you are with
I have fooled you! There is one more secret paring. You and the person you are enjoying these parings with. Is that person a friend, a date, yourself? Whatever the case, I hope this shared experience has done something for your relationship with that person. Keep on chatting if you're feeling the vibes.
Or, if you're feeling moved, pull out those valentine's cards and fill them out for each other. Or for someone else! Spread the love. Happy Valentine's Day!