When you think of a Girl Scout cookie, it reminds you of the anticipation of seeing vested girls and their parents outside of a local shopping center or grocery store. Then the inevitable first round of purchases where you binge eat your coveted flavor of choice (for me the Do-Si-Dos). Then comes the stock-building where you collect as many boxes as you can afford and ration them, savoring each bite knowing it will be months until you see these treasures again!
But what other Girl Scout cookie traditions or experiences can be had? Maybe a dunk in a nice glass of milk, or sticking the occasional box of thin mints into the freezer? We decided to take a step out of the box and see how our favorite seasonal treats would pair with our other favorite adult treat… wine!
We took our investigation to the newly-opened The Rotten Bunch located in the Avery Ranch shopping center. This intimately lit wine bar and kitchen was a relaxing break from the hectic work day. Upon arrival we found Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Arik Skot Williams behind the bar.
Often times we hear chefs wax poetic about their love of food and the sense of joy and fulfillment they get knowing that other people love their cuisine. For Williams, an easy-going Iowa boy, there are no romanticized ideals about pleasing the palates of others. For him, it’s a little simpler than that, “I love food and I love how you can travel the world through a glass of wine,” said Williams. “A glass of wine can teach you a lot about how people in other places and other cultures dine and experience food.” His passion for food and wine, garnered through many years working various positions in restaurant kitchens, is found in the details of the bar. “Nunc Est Bibendum,” is written above the serving window, translated “now is the time to drink.” The Rotten Bunch also boasts 12 Texas-brewed beers on tap and even has four wines on tap, as well.
Williams explained that the bar name – The Rotten Bunch – was chosen to convey a simple message about wine, and possibly life in general. “It’s rotten grapes, it speaks for itself,” Williams explains of wine, hoping to convince patrons to enjoy themselves and not put more thought to it than that.
The first pairing of the afternoon was the Do-Si-Dos. Highlighting a local favorite, we combined the peanut butter-filled cookie with the Austin-brewed Live Oak Hefewiezen. This light wheat beer offered hints of banana and clove, which paired harmoniously with the sweet and creamy peanut butter and oatmeal cookies that house it.
Our second pairing was with the lemony Savannah Smiles. These crescent-shaped lemon delights were teamed with a light and very sweet Riesling from Rudi Wiest Selections. “You should always have a sweeter wine than the food you are eating, otherwise the sweetness will cancel out and result in only bitter flavor in the wine,” Williams explained. The citrus flavor of the Riesling was a great partner for the light lemon dessert cookie.
Now, on to the fan favorite: Thin Mints. We sipped a Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, which is comprised of a greener grape and gives a peppery flavor. This paired quite well with the peppermint fillings and the dark chocolate casing of the Thin Mint.
The last two cookies, that we paired with a delicious port, were Tagalongs and Samoas! The strong flavor of the port went well with the chocolate and peanut butter flavoring of the Tagalongs. My favorite pairing commenced as the port and bits of cookie collided on my tongue. The mixture of the dark and strong port flavor with the sweet and crisp flavors of the coconut and dark chocolate in the Samoa struck a chord in me. If I hadn’t had to leave, I probably could have polished a box off in one sitting!
When questioned “why wine?” Williams shared his view on the fermented beverage. “Wine turns dinner into dining,” he explained. Being a wine-o myself it was as if he had hit the nail on the head. The complexity and sophistication of wine offers the ability to elevate the social and dining experience. This same can be said of our cookies and wine experiment.
Needless to say, I am anxiously awaiting the appearance of those Girl Scout troops with their bright smiles. And of course… the cookies!