Friday, February 17, 2012

Taza chocolate: The Harvest Review

After the deliciousness that was last month's Harvest Review dinner — not to mention the painful realization that these dinners have been happening at Harvest, without me, for eight years — there was really no question about whether or not we'd return for February's themed dinner.

This time, perhaps because it was the day after Valentine's Day, the not-so-secret ingredient came from fabulous local purveyor Taza Chocolate.

Taza co-founder Alex Whitmore was in attendance to give us an overview of the company — as he puts it, they take the cacao "from bean to bar" — and to answer questions about their sources (mostly growers in the Dominican Republic), their process (they roast and stone-grind the beans in Somerville), and their factory tours (which we need to do at some point).

And then, to eat!

To begin, "Hot Dates," stuffed with a mild, sweet gorgozola, studded with bacon, served on a swoosh of balsamic bittersweet chocolate. This was an appetizer I would have welcomed back for dessert.

Imagine warm, sweet dates; soft, creamy cheese; a salty, smoky crunch from the bacon; a rich, dark sauce. Such an amazing combination.

I scooped the first one up with my fingers and was about to wolf my second before I realized everyone else was being knife-and-forky. Oops, manners.

Next up, an amazingly tender Berkshire pork belly on a bed of puréed parsnip, with candied kumquats and pickled jalapeño. Oh, and 80 percent chocolate.

Parsnips and chocolate: Who knew? Pork and chocolate: Who knew? I mean, yes, bacon chocolate makes perfect sense. But I was surprised by how well pork fat (less intense, though still sweet and salty) paired.

Then we moved to dessert (wasn't it all dessert?): a 60 percent chocolate with Nutella mousse,

a 70 percent chocolate with tiny strawberry-yogurt puddings and — be still, my heart — strawberry cotton candy,

and an 80 percent chocolate with salted caramel sauce.

Each was richer, and more intense, than the last.

And it was around this point that I realized I'm not the chocoholic I thought I was.

Don't get me wrong, it was all fantastic. But my choco-meter was reaching its limit.

But wait: more chocolate!

A thick, creamy 60 percent chai hot chocolate, with a piece of fresh biscotti. With chocolate-covered cocoa nibs.

The chocolate was too thick for sipping, so we used the biscotti as a spoon. Sophisticated animals we are with our improvised tools.

Despite the fact that I was completely chocked-out by the end, it was another incredible meal. The wine pairings were, again, so well chosen, especially the dessert wine, Malvira "Birbet" Brachetto, a red, spakling Italian that I may start stalking.

And to think it all starts here:

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home