Who doesn’t like chocolate? For many of us a weakness for the brown stuff usually results in heading for a sugary bar of milk chocolate to quickly satify an impulsive craving. But how about looking at chocolate in a different way?
The last few weeks on Flavour.ie has been Chocolate Season exploring both savoury and sweet cooking with chocolate. It has also been a great opportunity to showcase one of my favourite local artisan food producers, chocolate maker extraordinare Allison Roberts of Clonakilty Chocolate – hand made bean-to-bar chocolate from fairtrade cocoa (www.clonakiltychocolate.com).
In South America, chocolate holds magical properties, revered and frequently used as an important ingredient in many a savoury dish: mole’s, chilli and slow braised dishes; in hot drinks etc. The chocolate used is more pure, using raw cocoa or high percentage cocoa. Sweeteners are added to it during cooking rather than it being sweet to begin with. Adding dark, rich chocolate to dishes adds a rich, deep, silky and fully rounded flavour to the finished dish making everything feel very luxurious.
I decided that my second supper club should celebrate this wonderful ingredient. Unsurprisingly there was no shortage of interest for places at the table and the event booked out very quickly indeed! Three courses were designed and researched, practiced and perfected – a tough job, I know, but someone has to do it! I also asked Allison if she would dine with us and do a chocolate tasting, explain the process of chocolate making and to talk all about Clonakilty Chocolate. I had also teamed up with Cork wine experts and merchants Curious Wines (www.curiouswines.ie) to provide wine pairings with the courses that I could give to the diners for their BYO on the night – handy as chocolate can be notoriously difficult to pair food with. This was the full menu on the night:
Alsatian Crement with sun-blushed tomatoes, a selection of olives and humous from the Real Olive Co, and home-baked puff pastry paprika and parmesan cheese strings.
Warm Salad of Oriental Mustard Leaves, Pear and Walnuts with Molasses Cured Baltimore Pig Bacon and a Rosemary and Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Sauce.
Wine Pairing: Ginestet “Classique” Sauternes 2011
Venison Agrodolce with Chocolate, Smoked Duck Fat Celeriac Rosti, Roasted Roots and Russian Kale.
Wine Pairing: Coste di Moro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo / La Cuvee Mythique Languedoc / Kanu Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre
Dark Chocolate Berry Torte with Triple Chocolate Iced Mousse, Bitter Caramel Sauce and Fresh Berries
Wine Pairing: Fernando de Castilla Cream Sherry
In between the main course and desert, Allison took the guests on an exquisite journey through chocolate, handing out samples of different chocolates: different roasts, cocoa concentrates, sweetners; different conching times etc each sample giving a completely different taste sensation to the next! I think it is fair to say that everyone learned something new about chocolate, how to taste it and how to cook with it. From the full bellies and plates wiped clean from every last mouthful, I would say that the evening was a complete success and everyone left for home with a big chocolately smile on their faces!
Keep checking back on Flavour.ie’s Supper Club page, Facebook or Twitter for news of future Supper Club events!
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