Salt + Chocolate

I’ve got a thing for salt, so when Michael Recchiuti told me he was doing a chocolate and salt workshop with Mark Bitterman, I signed up as soon as I could logon (I’d have signed up instantly using my iPhone, but, well, that means AT&T and we know how well that’s working out…) Little did I know when I signed up for the workshop, that I’d be greeted with this refreshing, sparkling vermouth cocktail garnished with a grapefruit peel twist and a chamomile-infused fleur de sel-glazed rim.

This Sutton Cellars is some seriously sumptuous vermouth!

A slideshow of the salt harvest process in Ghana ran on the wall as we gathered in the space at Recchiuti Confections.

The first course was a savory rosemary & olive oil cracker topped with aged manchego, basil, a drizzle of evoo and sprinkled with a caramel-y fleur de sel.

Course Two was a layered pumpkin cake, milk choc crémeux (using Michel Cluizel Papua New Guinea 55%) and salted struesel topped with Bali kechil salt — a clean, bright, mild box textured salt…one that I actually happen to have in my personal collection!

Course Three: this almond-free, cocoa nib ‘flour’ macaron was THE best chocolate macaron I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting — and I’ve pretty much tried all the best Paris has to offer. The cocoa flavor was incredible. The little pipette was filled with burnt sugar, cocoa nib and grappa for infusing as we wished. The miniature white chocolate salt cellar housed the finishing touch: cocoa-infused fleur de sel.

Course Four: these little cassia cinnamon bonbon’s were served in combo with sauteed apples….

….in tiny cones and were eagerly washed down with freshly brewed pumpkin ale.

Course Five: the flight included three Japanese salts new to me (left to right): Moshio sea salt, Shinkai deep-sea salt and smoked Shinkai — all in their own, custom chocolate salt cellars. We dipped the chocolate caramel squares into each of the salts and cleansed our palates with the tarragon syrup laced grapefruit granita. Yeah, it was a rough afternoon!

Despite the overload of decadent goodness, we forged ahead to the sixth and last course: a truly fantastic pain au chocolat by William Werner of the much-anticipated Tell Tale Preserve Co. Michael concocted the decadent white tube of house-made gianduja and Mark paired it with a Halen Môn smoked sea salt, making the whole thing a little nugget of hazelnut/chocolate heaven.

I rolled on out of there on a chocolate & salt high, well-informed, fully entertained with a copy of Salted under my arm and eager to see what Michael Recchiuti comes up with for the lineup of 2011 workshops!

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