He Said, She Said – Pairing Valrhona Chocolate and Port at Finale Desserterie & Bakery

Pairing Menu for Valrhona Chocolate and Port Tasting

White Chocolate Mousse Cup made with Valrhona Ivoire
Croft Pink

Milk Chocolate Mousse Cup made with Valrhona Jivara
Taylor 20 Year Old Tawny

Praline Feuilletine made with Valrhona Noisette Noir
Taylor 30 Year Old Tawny

Manjari Mini Pastry made with Valrhona Manjari
Warre’s 1999 LBV

Whoopie Pie made with Valrhona Guanaja
Graham’s “Six Grapes” Reserve Porto

GLENN – Chef Nicole Coady loves – really loves – Valrhona chocolate. Considered to be one of the world’s foremost chocolates, Chef Coady uses it to perfection in the desserts she creates for Finale. As part of the special tasting events she offers at the desserterie, she recently conducted a tasting of desserts incorporating Valrhona  paired with assorted Ports. I say “conducted” since the event was very much a class in chocolate and its manufacture – an odyssey from ugly cacao pod to heavenly couverture – accompanied by samples of Chef Coady’s desserts which illustrate the range of Valrhona chocolates from white to bittersweet. The Ports she chose to pair with each dessert also represented a wide range – from the new-style Croft Pink to Ruby and Tawny. We were fortunate to be invited by Mindy Valone of CM Communications to be media guests at this chocolicious event.

KATRIN – Chef Coady’s excitement and energy is contagious, especially when it comes to chocolate and creating truly sublime desserts.

As I said we were to some extent “in school” – but what a school! We were first offered a plate of the five type of chocolate used in the evening’s desserts – a piece of Valrhona to compare and contrast with a piece of the same type of chocolate from another manufacturer. This enabled us to discern the flavors in each of the chocolate’s unadulterated state.

Next we tasted the dessert made from that chocolate and the accompanying port.Then the decision – did the pairing work for us or not. During our tasting, Chef Coady related her rationale for choosing a specific chocolate for a specific dessert and the extent to which she goes to get it right which means unacceptable desserts get trashed, expensive trash considering the price of chocolate.

KATRIN – Chef Coady makes the most incredible chocolate mousse. Both the white chocolate mousse and milk chocolate mousse were light as air, ethereal, smooth, and not overly sweet.  Even though these delicate concoctions are simply divine, I would have a hard time picking out a favorite among the pairings. The flavors of the praline feuilletine and the 30 Year Old Tawny were fabulous together, but the super sweetness of the feuilletine made it difficult to eat more than one bite. The whoopie pie, though, left an impression and I can’t wait to go back and have it again. A light crispness on the outside and a soft, dense outside (kind of like a slightly undercooked brownie) with a light vanilla cream filling. Wow!

GLENN – Of the five pairings, two really stood out for me. First, the milk chocolate mousse paired with the 20 year old Tawny. The mousse, made with Valrhona Jivara, had none of the insipidness often associated with milk chocolate. Actually, it had a somewhat robust flavor that paired well with the elegance of the Port. The last pairing was for me the highlight of the evening. Chef’s Coady’s whoopie pie is spectacular. Though based on the bittersweet Valrhona Guanaja, Chef Coady rounds out the flavor with other chocolates. The result is a dessert with a substantial chocolate depth. Paired with this was the Graham’s “Six Grapes”, the lively fruit of the wine marrying exceedingly well with the rich chocolate.

KATRIN – Another fun, and tasty, event at Finale.  Though overall I enjoyed it very much, there were a couple of things that I wish were different.  First, at the last tasting of Bubbles and Bites, Chef Coady was accompanied by Jon Sherman, who talked about the wines that were being poured. I wondered how many attendees were familiar with Port and the different styles that are made. His knowledge would have complemented the lesson in chocolate, since Chef Coady did not really speak at all about the Ports.  My second point is the pacing of the program. As I mentioned, Chef Coady is great at talking to all the tables, but there were a lot of attendees and there was significant time between pairings, making the evening drag on a bit.

Upcoming event at Finale that are of particular interest to dessertophiles are an ice wine and dessert tasting and a craft beer and dessert tasting. Details on the website.

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