Rum is the new gin. Remember you heard it here first! I used to be a rum drinker before moving over to gin. Lately I’m starting to think I should soon go back drinking rum as my main spirit and only enjoy the occasional gin now and again. As opposed to lots of gin and now and again a cheeky rum. Don Papa, a Philippine rum with a smell and taste of vanilla, made me remember how tasty rum cocktails really are.
For one night only a selected few bloggers and a couple of bar industry people where exclusively invited to dine with the Dons. Hosted at the gorgeous Corn Exchange in Leeds, we got a taste for the Philippine island where the rum is distilled: Sugarlandia.
The invitation design with its exotic flowers and cheeky monkeys rumoured for a colourful and fun filled night which on arrival the table set up, menu and Don Papa rum bottles could vouch for. Before being seated a couple of Darker Dons (Dark & Stormy) where enjoyed over mingle conversations learning more about the rum. The Darker Don cocktail is a really fruity and
too easy to drink summer cocktail. Perfect start to the evening!
The table was beautifully set up underneath Corn Exchange’s impressive roof for us to enjoy a five course meal. Each course resembling one of the five pillars of Sugarlandia (Volcano, Rainforest, Nature, Land and Sugar Canes), paired with rum cocktails to experience its true taste. It was the perfect setting for a pop-up meal like this to take place. Making it feel even more exclusive and secretive than already promised.
This was a first for me trying bone marrow. It doesn’t sound appealing by name but not knowing what it is, it doesn’t taste weird. It’s soft like butter with a taste similar to pork belly. Spread on flat bread and dipped in the accompanying fragrant broth, it goes down really well. A nice start to the meal giving indications of what more to come.
Second up is my favourite of the evening: crab salad on tomato salad. I love fish (feels like I say this in every food post I write) and this crab works really well with five different tomatoes. It is meant to be a papaya and mango salad but the different colours of the tomatoes still makes it feel like a rainforest.
Egg three ways with perfectly green and crunchy asparagus. The Papa Negroni cocktail match beautifully in colour with the egg yolk and its taste change for the sweeter after a bite of asparagus. Who would have thought food could have such an impact on liquid flavours? Combining tonight’s rum and food, this is the one that blows my mind the most.
The bone marrow starter gave indications for pork belly to join later and it did. Here braised in Don Papa rum with seaweed and lemongrass. A fresh lighthearted main course melting in your mouth. Simple and almost like a pallet cleanser, very effectful.
Last but not least a sugary dessert (Yuzo jelly, coconut three ways and green tea gel) accompanied by the Don Fashioned to balance sweet and bitter. As an Old Fashioned sceptic this in’t my favourite but replacing whiskey with rum makes it a lot more drinkable.
I would love to go back to Sugarlandia soon but it might be because pop-up events like this and spontaneous nights out are the best and most special. We continued our evening at The Maven so if you’re in Leeds fancying a try of Don Papa Rum and its for now mysterious culture, head there. Or stock up online and have a go at making your own Don Papa cocktails. Tip! Don’t drink too much or it will be really difficult to spot all the 50 animals pictured on the label.
What’s your go to spirit? Would you swap it for Don Papa Rum?