Have you seen the film Chocolat? One day I really must read the book, by Joanne Harris. But it’s one of my top 25 favourite films of all time. I like all sorts of things about the film, including Johnny Depp of course, and Judi Dench. The power of the hot chocolate at La Chocolaterie Maya, with a “special kind of chilli pepper” has always drawn me in. There is a dinner scene where Vianne, the chocolatier, puts on a party for her friend, Armande. It is a wonderful scene; an outdoor setting on a patio in what looks like springtime. Our favourite people from the village are invited, and our least favourite people are not. Vianne serves the main course and everyone passes the vegetables. Then there is a moment of awed silence when a luscious looking sauce, presumably chocolate is poured over the roast and the guests gently close their mouths over the first forkful. Joy spreads over their faces at the flavour sensation they are eating and the volume builds to a crescendo of jovial dinner conversation.
I made a new friend recently and we watched the film together. She loves good food, and pretty things. When her birthday came, I wondered if she might like to throw a Chocolat inspired dinner party to celebrate. It would have been my honour to cook for the occasion. Indeed, in many ways it was a dream come true. I designed a menu appropriate to the occasion. And set off shopping and preparing. I had great fun scouting out ingredients at the market. But it took a few stalls before I could find someone to sell me a free range turkey. I had a joyful spend up at the Queen Victoria Market where I bought all the chocolate, salad, vegetables, fruit, turkey and fresh tuna. I chose to provide mixed potatoes with the turkey. Along with the kipflers, I bought some small ‘Midnight Pure’ that kept a wonderful, intense purple colour after confit.
Of course, I had to go to Gewurzhaus for my spices. It was so lovely to go in and be recognised by my blog! I bought Ancho, Passilla and Mulato chillies for the turkey sauce. The trio were perfect. They complement the chocolate and provide great complexity and depth of flavour, bringing together the other flavours in the sauce. Gewurzhaus also have a selection of three different types of vanilla beans. I selected Tahitian Vanilla to infuse the verjuice to dress my cured tuna. When you smell Mexican vanilla, Madagascan vanilla and Tahitian vanilla separately, it’s surprising how different they all are. Mexican vanilla is dense and heavy, but Tahitian vanilla is light and floral. I knew it would be perfect for this very sophisticated, savoury dish.
Cacao cured tuna
Sashimi grade tuna cured with raw cacao, served with radish and cucumber, with a Tahitian vanilla dressing.
Roast turkey with chilli chocolate sauce
Whole free range turkey roasted with orange, cinnamon and bay; doused with a rich and complex savoury chilli chocolate sauce; accompanied by cocoa butter confit vegetables and steamed greens.
Birthday cake and white hot chocolate
The birthday girl chose a lemon and white chocolate cake which comprises a macadamia oil cake filled with dairy free lemon curd, topped with white chocolate ganache. Guests will also be served vanilla and white hot chocolate.
A platter of chocolate salami, mascarpone cheese, fresh figs, muscatels, walnuts and almond bread.
If you’d like to hire me to run a dinner party like this for you, please complete the form below. (The space for comments is after the form.)