So last Thursday seven style & food writers and journalists, one lovely Gü lady, and myself sat down for supper on my Marcel Breuer chairs, around my 1960s glass and chrome table to eat Gü Head Chef Fred Ponnavoy’s five course chocolate tasting menu, with wine pairing. We had started the evening in my study, with chocolate martinis and three appetisers (more of this to come later.), before moving into my glass-walled dining room.
Before you baulk at the idea of too much sweetness in savoury food, Fred explained that the skill is in the balance between the tastes, using chocolate as you would a spice to add depth of flavour rather than overwhelming sweetness.
Behind the scenes, well, just behind us in my kitchen, Head Chef Fred and his Sous Jerome, were very calmly putting together the finishing touches:
We started with a Duck Egg with Maple Syrup & Raz el Hanout Cream, served with Chocolate Brioche Soldiers. This was served with a delicious sparkling red wine: Brachetto d’Acqui 2010 from Italy. I was a little scared by the idea of egg and maple syrup together, but the combination was perfectly balanced and utterly delicious, quite unlike anything I have tasted before, creamy and rich with just a hint of sweetness, tempered by the Moroccan spicing.
Then we had a recipe from the new Gü Cookbook, which will come out in October: Chocolate Venison Open Ravioli with Herb Salad, served with a red wine: Caianne La Cote Sauvage 2008 (France). The plates were practically licked clean afterwards.
This was followed by Whole Chicken Cooked in Cocoa Crust, served with Vanilla Mashed Potatoes and Chocolate Gravy. The wine was Quivira from America. Fred’s visual joke was to present the chickens on hay at table, before breaking open the crust to reveal perfectly cooked, tender, moist chicken inside.
Then we had a special sneak preview of a secret dessert course, which will launch later in the year (so no photos yet). I was asked to think up a way to serve it, so I designed three table centrepieces based around pink and orange Ranunculus and blush Anemones to match the individual place setting arrangements, and slid them underneath three pressed glass cake plates, which had matching glass cloches to go over the top.
Then the piece de resistance: Fred’s utterly delicious pudding course. Meringue with Lemon & White Chocolate Cream, Candied Lemon & Grapefuit Granite.
So, so, so good. Fred used round silicone moulds to create the meringue shells, which were then filled with the cream, candied lemon and grapefruit granite. The wine for both desserts was a golden Late Harvest Torrontes 2009.
For me one of the most fascinating parts of the evening was this:
A cocoa bean! Fred had a contact at Rungis (the huge food market in Paris) source it for us, and had it specially brought over for the dinner. The flesh is delicious, in texture somewhere around a cross between a rambutan and a lychee but without the sticky sweetness. Inside the flesh is a brown soft seed which is also edible raw, and which becomes the cocoa once processed. Extraordinary – and a fitting end to a lovely evening.