The Ebbitt Room at the elegant Virginia Hotel in Cape May continues its culinary series with an intimate scotch-and-cigars pairing dinner 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday.
General Manager Tara Anne Rothberg says while the Ebbitt Room is a smoke-free facility with no smoking lounge, the event makes sense in the context of the broader mission of the Virginia Hotel. Drawing on its solid culinary reputation, The Ebbitt Room has sought to guide guests in discovering the wide world of food and spirits with a martini dinner earlier this year. A "Pig and Pinot" event later this summer will match regional Pinots with a traditional pig roast.
"Scotch and cigars go hand in hand," Rothberg says, adding she is a Scotch drinker herself. "They're both agricultural products and sometimes a Scotch will have hints of tobacco flavors. So cigars match the flavor of Scotch in that they're both very earthy, very musky, very peet-mossy."
Master of Whiskey Kevin Loser will introduce a 16-year-old Laphroaig and 10-year-old Talisker on the veranda as guests sample Scotch eggs - hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage - and seafood pairings such as roasted scallops and a crab and seafood cappuccino. Then the group - there are only 30 reservation spots available, plus a short waiting list for latecomers - will move to the garden for some more-hearty pairings barbecued by executive Chef Lucas Manteca.
"When you think of tequila, you think of tacos and Latin-inspired dishes," Rothberg says. "When I think of Scotch, I think of gamey food and cigars. Barbecue is very musky and smoky, so we really wanted to pair the two and show that marriage of flavors."
Guests can ask Manteca "his theory behind the ingredients" in an entrecote of beef dusted with smoked paprika and brown sugar, with charred vegetables or a plantain-wrapped mahi-mahi with miso tamarind sauce and mango chutney. Loser will share tidbits such as the history of Scotch, how it's blended and malted, the differences between types and regions of whiskey etc.
Then, it's time for the cigars. Rothberg says she hasn't known people to smoke cigars while eating, especially as the smell may bother other diners, but it's a great after-dinner relaxer.
"It's like a dessert after dinner. It's not a fast-action thing, smoking cigars is more a leisurely thing," Rothberg says. "People talk and network. They've had their meal and learned something about Scotch from the whiskey master and they can talk to the chef and each other.
"You can smoke a cigar for over an hour, it's such a leisurely and social activity, and with the small group, it becomes a very intimate, free-flowing sort of evening."
Contact Felicia Compian:
The Ebbitt Room
Series: Scotch and Cigars
6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at The Ebbitt Room, Virginia Hotel, 25 Jackson Street, Cape May. $55. Call 609-884-5700 or visit