Taza chocolate: The Harvest Review
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: