I’m a starter and main course, not a main course and pudding, type of girl. Unless you constitute cheese as a pudding – which it isn’t, so don’t. Savoury over sweet every time; crusty bread lathered in pate, goat’s cheese tarts, Parma ham, asparagus and poached eggs, that’s the menu for me.
However, when invited to a champagne, wine, liqueur and chocolate tasting night, well preferences can be changed. After all, I never said I was averse to cocoa. And this wasn’t just a tasting; it was a pairing – a lesson on what goes with what, an evening’s education. No-one should turn down knowledge – especially when it’s on offer for free.
With this in mind, and peckish after a long stint in the office, I set off North to Marylebone a little over a week ago to La Fromagerie, and the launch of Green and Black’s Connoisseur Collection.
Fortunately there weren’t many, if any, connoisseurs among the guests, so I wasn’t in a sticky, Augustus Gloop-esque (out of my depth), predicament. I’d learn alongside them, not catch up behind them.
Handed a cool glass of white on entry, which after a rushed day in sweltering heat, went down a treat, I stashed my belongings in a make-shift cloak room and joined my journo and blogger companions. The seminar had already started, so I missed the ‘what goes with Champagne’ and what goes with ‘white wine’ sections of the night (though the white wine was going down perfectly without an accompaniment) and jumped straight into the 85% dark chocolate and Malbec combo.
“Take a bite of the chocolate and then take a sip of the wine, then another bite of the chocolate,” advised a casual chic-attired, real deal connoisseur. I did.
Wow. At 85% I was expecting a blast of bitterness, but instead I was greeted with rich-yet-smooth buttery tones. This, when added to a slug of the full-bodied, dark and juicy Malbec, was – true to what the evening promised – a perfect pairing.
Next up was a white chocolate and pudding wine mix, where we were told to pinch our noses. Rather a peculiar request I grant you. Indeed, when asked, I thought perhaps the speaker was exercising his authority and seeing just what lengths he could get his audience to go to for personal amusement.
But the puppeteer asked, and his puppets responded. And I didn’t want to be left out, so I followed suit. I popped in the little pale cube, held my snoz and chewed. It tasted sweet.
“Now release!” he ordered. I did, dubiously.
Kapang! I was struck with an overwhelming hit of vanilla. Another new piece of information, or at least a reminder of my long lost knowledge of the senses. You don’t taste vanilla through your tongue and taste buds, but through your nose and your olfactory receptors. I tried again. Sweet…vanilla….sweet…vanilla – what a two-for-one.
Next came whisky and again this was ingested in a different way. We poured a dash into our hands, rubbed them together and then sniffed. This was followed by another bite of chocolate – this time the 70% dark. Aside from a rather tipsy journalist – who obviously hadn’t been sipping but gulping at the evening’s alcohol – sniffing my hands rather than her own, this pairing was equally enjoyable.
I moved away from the nosy fiend to another table, and the last pairing; Green and Black’s in softer form; vanilla ice cream doused in sherry. Delish.
And then it was over. Oh sadness, it was over. In just over two hours the Green and Black’s Connoisseur Collection had converted me. Perhaps main course and pudding really is the way forward.
I think I’ll have to have another tasting session though – just to be sure 😉