Tag Archives: Chocolat

When Chocolate met Cheese

19 Mar

What a snazzy menu.

We’ve all been there. That dreaded moment at a restaurant when you’ve finished your main and now it’s time to choose: cheese or dessert. Quel horreur! Whatever is a girl to do?

Well…according to a gastronomic experiment conducted by ‘The Chocolate Tasting Club’ the answer is simply to mix the two together to make a lovely boundary pushing canapé. Thus ‘The Cheese Tasting Experience’ was born from the creative minds at ‘Hotel Chocolat’.

This sounds all well and good in theory and I have to admit I was intrigued when my all-knowledgeable Grandpa (he’s a real life Gandalf) mentioned he had been sent all the ingredients and would like me to join him for a casual tasting one afternoon. However, I had my doubts that this idealism would translate to food reality. And so, to satiate my curiosity, one Friday I began my intrepid journey away from the traditions of old and into the weird and wonderful mixed up world of what I will term the ‘chocolate cheese’. CC for short.

All the ingredients necessary for intrepid cheese and chocolate tasting

1. First Chocolate Cheese (CC): The Nut Hamper

Although this name suggests that it might contain all the ingredients necessary for a squirrel’s picnic, it actually only contains one nutty element. Bit disappointing to any hopeful squirrels out there. To make this concoction one must slice a bit of Lincolnshire Poacher cheese (described as somewhere between Cheddar and Swiss mountain cheese) add a couple of cocoa nibs and a dab of hazelnut paste and then add a bit of dark chocolate. Unfortunately, our general verdict for this mixture was that the ingredients were better off on their own. As my mum rightly put ‘the cheese ruins the chocolate and the chocolate ruins the cheese’. So far, so bad. The answer to the dessert/cheese dilemma was not to be found in CC number one. No Utopia here Thomas Moore. But perseverance is key and so it was on to the next one.

2. Second CC: The Cheesecake

A most apt and ironic name, ‘The Cheesecake’ consisted of THE MOST DELICIOUS CHEESE IN THE WORLD ‘Petit Délice, chopped crystallised orange and orange milk chocolate (Terry’s chocolate orange will probably do). I was told from the handy tasting menu that ‘Petit Délice’ is usually classed as a pudding cheese due to its intensely rich flavour. Maybe this was why the combination sort of worked; pudding cheese with orange chocolate didn’t sound too exotic on paper which may have lulled naive taste buds into a false sense of normality. However, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed with the fact that the cheese taste hit first, followed by the chocolate. To be honest, all I really wanted was a big wheel of Petit Délice all to myself and the go ahead from the almighty that I could eat it all and not gain weight whatsoever. The general verdict was favourable, but it was still no ‘two thumbs up, way up’.

3. Third CC: The Blue Olive

No prizes for guessing the ingredients of this one. As you have no doubt surmised ‘The Blue Olive’ consisted of a blue cheese ‘Cropwell Bishop Stilton’, niçoise olives and dark chocolate. I thought this combination was the best yet. However, this could be because I appreciate the fine taste of the humble olive. Unsurprisingly our two resident olive haters did not appreciate CC number 3. This may be because like George Michael in Wham an olive tends to steal the limelight (what even is the other guys name from Wham?). So the verdict was that this combination was like Marmite, you either loved it or you hated it (What a catchy slogan eh?). However, I learned a fact from the menu card that I can now share with you: did you know that stilton cheese is named after the village in which the dairy is based? I sure didn’t…but now I do. BOOM.

4. Fourth CC: The Honey Pie

‘Honey Pie’ sounds like a sickly sweet name couples in love refer to each other as. Similarly, this CC was sickly. Unfortunately, it was not sickly due to too much love. This canapé consisted of Driftwood Goats Cheese, roasted cocoa nibs, honey and dark chocolate. Usually the best is saved for last. However, it appears that this tradition was also broken in the experimental  ‘The Cheese Tasting Experience’. All members present made a unanimous decision that this was the worst yet. Too sweet, too strange. I don’t think even Winnie the Pooh with his honey obsession would make room in his diet for this unfortunate CC. Again, the cheese needed to shed the chocolate and vice versa.

The instructions for this ill-fated tasting extravaganza.

To conclude, on that fateful Friday I learnt a valuable lesson: sometimes traditions are there for a reason. However much I wanted this idealistic answer to the dessert/cheese dilemma to work, it just didn’t. In fact, it left me with an insatiable desire to eat as much solo cheese as I could get my ravenous paws on. I spent the next two days gorging on various cheeses salty delights, no chocolate in sight.

Mixing chocolate with savoury ingredients may work for the woman in Chocolat, but I don’t think serving these CC’s would bag you a long-haired, guitar playing Johnny Depp (let’s all pause to remember him in that film though, sigh. Good thoughts).

‘When chocolate met Cheese’ was unfortunately not a ‘When Harry met Sally’ moment; there were no inappropriate sounds of food-induced pleasure coming from the table and no happy ending for the chocolate and cheese pairings. Sad but true.

Me working hard to achieve a beautifully presented Chocolate Cheese.

To learn more about ‘The Chocolate Tasting Club’ please visit this website: www.chocs.co.uk and then you can have chocolate boxes delivered to your house!

For a further look at the ‘Cheese Tasting Experience’ and what looks like an informational video with some Spanish guitar background music check out: http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/Cheese-Chocolate-ACheese_Chocolate_Tasting/

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