There's More to Juice Pairing Than You Might Think

Geranium - Giulia Caffiero Juice Maker - Credit Claes Bech Poulsen - Giulia Caffiero Juice Maker 14.09.23A 25
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The offer of non-alcoholic pairings in restaurants continues to gain attention. The variety of fermented drinks, infusions, extractions, and juices are increasingly seen, not as substitutes, but as true enhancements of the dining experience, created as accompaniments to tasting menus. After all, according to Giulia Caffiero, choosing not to drink alcohol with a tasting menu should not limit the guest’s dining experience.

Geranium - Giulia Caffiero Juice Maker - Credit Claes Bech Poulsen - Giulia Caffiero Juice Maker 14.09.23A 28

Credit Claes Bech Poulsen

We met with Giulia Caffiero, currently the Assistant Restaurant Manager and the one responsible for the juice pairing at Geranium in Copenhagen, a three Michelin star venue declared the World’s Best Restaurant in 2022.

Before her career at Geranium, Cagliari native Caffiero pursued studies in Cultural Heritage and Archeology and later in Fashion studies. Her real passion though, was for restaurants and hospitality. This passion finally took over, and she moved to Milan to work with Chef Marco Ambrosino, previously a chef at the one-star restaurant 28 Posti, with its strong identity and Nordic inspirations, and also at the three Michelin star institution Aimo e Nadia.

Caffiero’s later arrival in Copenhagen and at Geranium was not a coincidence. At the age of 27, it was her goal to continue learning hospitality from the best and gain a more complex and international perspective. The story has her sending an email to Geranium, which went unanswered. She then decided to visit in person, offering her candidacy for a probation period. After five years at Geranium, Caffiero was appointed as Assistant Restaurant Manager, at which time she was inspired to explore another passion of hers: juices.

"What strikes me the most at Geranium is the freedom of expression," says Caffiero.

From studying biology and foraging for herbs and flowers to working with suppliers, experimenting with cooking techniques, and creating recipes, she handles the restaurant's juice pairing entirely.

Credit Claes Bech Poulsen

Credit Claes Bech Poulsen

"All the cocktails are made from scratch by a team of three, a new batch each week. Our juice pairing mirrors the complexity of the tasting menu and translates it into the glass."

The foundation of each recipe always includes three elements: fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The preparation takes a few days due to the complexity of techniques and the initial cleaning, sorting, and preparation of the products. The berries are always cooked, fresh fruits such as apples and pears are extracted, and herbs are prepared with a Thermomix. The team makes a batch of 120 litres of juice each week.

The logic of the juice pairing follows the menu and direction of the chef. For some dishes, the idea lies in cleansing the palate; for others, it involves mirroring the ingredients from the dish. "Sometimes I work on the contrast with the dish, sometimes on the harmony," says Caffiero. The complexity also lies in managing the acidity and sweetness of the raw materials, which are unpredictably dictated by nature.

"To give an example, we have an apple-based juice with ten varieties of apples that vary in sweetness and acidity. We mix them with celery root juice, which gives a saline addition. Then we smoke hay and cook it in water that is later reduced. The final result gives liquorice notes. This is the juice we suggest for a dish of fried pancake with caramelised onions, fuso cheese, and truffles."

Another aspect of Caffiero’s approach is the presentation. All juices should have a presentable colour and smell, and the tableside preparation is part of the experience.

These aspects justify the price of the juice pairing being equal to the wine pairing. As Caffiero points out, when some guests choose not to drink alcohol, their dining experience should not be lacking and no one should be excluded, for example, families with children, or guests who visit during lunch service who prefer not to drink.

Outside the fine dining setting, Caffiero has also experimented with pairing juices with gourmet pizzas. Last year, she held her first pop-up event in Milan with an old friend at Pizzeria 081. This year, they met again, pairing a four-pizza menu with juices. Gooseberry, tomato, and fennel juice accompanied a baked pizza topped with burrata stracciatella, Fassona tartare, and candied tomato, with the beverages echoing the ingredients of the pizzas.

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