Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sidetracked pt 1

Ive been reading this fascinating book recently - Indulgence by Paul Richardson (

The guy is a chocophile and he traces the history of chocolate from the Ancient MesoAmerican civilizations across to Spain, France, Italy and throughout Europe. Its a really interesting read and it got me thinking about flavours and how tastes evolve across time and continents. Originally chocolate was taken as a beverage and it was often "flavoured" with spices such as chilli's, annato, cinnamon, vanilla, various indiginous flowers, etc. As it moved across europe these flavours were omitted or replaced and gradually the product evolved from a fairly bitter dark product to the milky sweet chocolate we know now. But the book has prompted me to start exploring darker chocolates, and especially single estate chocolates and chocolates from different countries. Names like Valrhona, Amadia, El Rey all produce single estate chocolates, often with very high cocao contents. Apparantly most commercial chocolate contains about 30% cocao, but to really experience the flavours you should try some 50% or even 70% cocao. Here in the kitchens at the Grosvenor we have some 98% cocao pistils. It's an interesting experience as there is virtually no fat the chocolate almost crumbles in the mouth and it's very, very bitter. But if you melt it down with hot water, add in some spices and a small amount of milk or cream, you can make a very very nice hot chocolate drink.

So what wines would you pair off with something like that? All will be revealed in pt 2, coming later tonight (all being well)


No comments: