Cheese and Chocolate, Good and Evil, a Tasting

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Under the motto ‘Go wild – wild Taste Pairings’ an extraordinary tasting took place at Vom Einfachen das Gute (From the Simple the Good). It was a chocolate tasting, which emerged to be less sweet than expected. The reason might be due to the hosts: Manuela Rehn and Jörg Reuter. When they entertain, it’s all about the cheese, ham, and wine. This evening, they invited Alyssa Jade Mcdonald-Bärtl (Lyss), the founder of Blysschocolate, to take part in a collaboration of products. Cheese, for example, is combined with chocolate nibs and cacao beans, while delicate Italian prosciutto melts on the tongue as pieces of chocolate crack between the teeth. Sommelier Jörg proves that chocolate works just as well with white wine, and not only red.

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While we tasted and combined flavors, Manuela, Jörg, and Lyss kept us informed in a passionate but unobtrusive way. They drew our attention to nuances and little differences, to sequences and texture. We were asked what was happening in our mouths. They already knew, for example, that cheese is mostly dominant but chocolate lasts longer and everything changes when you add sweet and sour physalis. With the addition of the little-known fruit, the cheese almost starts flowing in your mouth and another kind of cheese blocks the fruitiness. After these first taste pairings, our taste buds were 100 % sensitized and they wanted more.

Buchette de Chevre with Cacao Nibs 
Umbrian Peccorino in fig leave with raw Cacao Bean
Stichelton with Physalis in Chocolate Coating
 
The Wine:
Di Filippo – Grechetto
Katharina Wechsler – Kirchspiel 
 

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The evening is filled with discovery and enjoyment in every respect: the pleasant guidance of the hosts through the menu, their notable devotion to the products, and the extremely tasteful preparation of the communal table we were sitting around. Especially impressive is how increased knowledge can take enjoyment to another level. The evening is also filled with the question: What is chocolate, actually?

We discover: chocolate is a nut and not a bean. Also, it is not dark in nature but white, like an almond. It only gets its color during the fermentation process, in addition to its cracking texture. Knowing this, our perception of taste and texture changes enormously

We find out even more: Lyss’ chocolate comes from her two plantations in Ecuador. One of them is located near the coast and the other one in the mountains. You can taste the difference: the ‘beans’ from the coast have a light sweet note and the mountain nuts are slightly bitter. Lyss contends that this difference results from the workers – evident in the sexiness of the coast inhabitants and the almost Prussian rigour of the mountain people. It might also be attributed to the different soils and weather conditions. The two plantations, however, have one thing in common: they are almost forests. Apart from the chocolate beans, physalis plants, as well as the amazon nut (which is actually a cousin of the pea) are cultivated on premises. ‘The more biodiversity, plants, birds, and butterflies you have, the more taste you get,’ is Lyss’ maxim.

Her chocolate is not really sweet nor bitter and heavy like the 70% bars, which overload your tongue and stomach. It doesn’t need to, however, because it is fermented at the low temperature of 50 degrees so it can stay what it is: light, subtly nutty and most importantly, chocolatey. It is chocolate in its purest form, the essence of what it can be.

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Eventually we are reached the moment when I wondered if it is actually possible to enjoy more. It was the moment when the Txogitxu-Steak was served, roasted in cacao butter. 20-year-old port wine, Bulas, accompanied it. ‘Linger on, though art so fair,’ Goethe would have said for sure. The meat, from 15-year-old cows, was juicy and intense in flavor, not chewy at all. Its fat was firm to the bite yet tender, almost wax like. Manuela and Jörg told us stories about the old cows, who spent their long lives on the pasture, eating flowers, giving milk, and birth to generations of calves.

From the simple the good. What is simple, and what is good, I wondered after the enjoyable evening. And if limitless enjoyment can lead to good (and not to hell). Neither Manuela nor Jörg or Lyss adapted the conviction of sustainability, gentle processing, and animal and eco-friendliness purely because of moral reasons. They were also driven by the desire to obtain the greatest possible enjoyment. To get the best, you have to produce something in the best possible way. A simple calculation.

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Text (DE): Theresa Patzschke
Images: Caro Hoene

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