*I arrived home last night, after a grueling 9-hour drive (plus 9 hours the day before!). Needless to say, I’m wiped. Regular blogging returns this week, though I hope you’ve enjoyed the guest posts from Mary and Laura. Thanks for sticking around! For now, here are a few photos of chocolate *
Last month, I was invited to attend a wine and chocolate pairing hosted by Bissinger’s, a gourmet chocolatier here in St. Louis. Their history goes back 350 years and current chief chocolatier, Dave Owens, continues to live up to their tradition of handcrafted quality and all natural ingredients. Really though, all you have to do is step into the doorway of their Central West End location and use your taste buds to guide in through their unique and ever-changing varieties of chocolate.
I met an old elementary school friend for dinner before the pairing. Yes, I said elementary! Even though we both grew up in Michigan, she moved here to St. Louis just a few years before I did – quite the coincidence!
Anyway, we ate at Dressel’s Public House, also in the CWE. I had never been but heard good things about their food and knew they were very much into the farm-to-table movement (rare for a pub-like restaurant! The Riverfront Times posted a great review if you’d like to read more). No photos, but I really enjoyed the food, and they have a great beer selection! I recommend them highly.
After dinner, we headed to Bissinger’s. The pairing began with a blue cheese tart with chocolate vinaigrette, something my full stomach was certainly not expecting! Somehow, I managed to find a spot in my stomach (tough life) because it was so good, I couldn’t pass it up. I liked that blue cheese wasn’t the only taste you could decipher in this tart (something that often happens with an over-powering cheese like blue). In fact, it was the tiniest bit…spicy, with flavors bouncing off your tongue just desperate for that chocolate vinaigrette to cool things off!
Blue Cheese Tart paired with Flor Prosecco (Italy)
Next we received a wide array of chocolate, which was quite tempting considering we were supposed to take in each piece slowly, with the suggested wine pairing!
We started with dark chocolate covered cherries (something that always reminds of Northern Michigan!) and…
…a simple piece of 38% milk chocolate, both paired with 2010 County Line Pinot Noir. I have always been a lover of milk chocolate. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be eating dark, but I just love how milk chocolate literally melts onto your tongue into a creamy mess.
The two chocolates towards the back of the plate were a Golden and Black Mission Fig Truffle (!) and a Porcini Mushroom Truffle (!!).
I surprisingly liked the mushroom truffle much more than the fig. The fig + chocolate was cloyingly sweet, but the mushroom had just the right amount of sweet and savory to please all my taste buds. These two were paired with a 2008 Zinfandel.
This next chocolate was incredibly different – a Mini Cococcino.This was a 60% dark chocolate cake surrounded by a cream sauce. I am not one for overly chocolate desserts so I definitely couldn’t finish it but if chocolate is your thing, this is a must-have! I was desperate for more cream halfway through This was paired with a 2009 Tikal “Patroita” Bonarda and Malbec Blend.
Our last chocolate was deceptively simple – a tiny square on a tiny plate. However, once you took a bite, you unearthed such a variety of flavor. This was a Cashew Toffee and was a pleasant surprise after the intense chocolate of the previous dessert! This was paired with Black Noble, an Australian dessert wine.
All in all, this experience allowed us to learn more about chocolate than I thought possible, and taste how well some of the more extreme chocolate bites pair with quality wines. Here’s more info:
Bissinger’s does monthly wine and chocolate pairings for $35/person and has one coming up this Thursday! Contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 314-615-2490 for a seat. They can also tell you a lot about pairing wine with chocolate just by stopping in their shop, so I recommend taking in all there is to see (and taste) at their store!
Have you ever done any pairing with chocolate? What’s your favorite kind of gourmet chocolate?