Chocolate Cuisine

Avid readers of DonQui Oaty’s blog will be aware by now that he has a great fondness for chocolate.

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It is hardly surprising, therefore, that when Duchess asks him where he would like to go for dinner, DonQui suggests the Boucan restaurant on Hotel Chocolat’s cocoa plantation.

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According to the blurb the Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant: “explores the sweet and savoury nature of cocoa, together with the superb local  produce found on Saint Lucia.”  It is all about chocolate and every dish has at least some in it — even if only a few roasted cacao nibs.

DonQui’s starter is chicken liver parfait with poached pear, chocolate and black pepper-cacao nib crumble. The chocolate adds a rich spiciness to the liver and the pear balances the flavours nicely. The dish has quite an exotic taste — too rich to sample very often but DonQui is very glad to have experienced it.

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Duchess feels much the same about her cacao pasta filled with mahi-mahi fish and goat’s cheese — looks fabulous, most interesting taste but perhaps not something one would want to eat every day. This, of course, is the whole point of a special dining experience  such as this.

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Chocolate is less in evidence in the main courses. Chocolate spiced lentils with chickpeas and naan bread are a big hit with Duchess while DonQui tucks into a delicious local kingfish filet served with roast pineapple and dasheen. There is little evidence of chocolate here apart from a few nibs on top and a coconut sauce made with cocoa butter.

wine.jpgAll of this is nicely washed down by a fine Côtes de Provence rosé from a very good wine list put together by Berry Bros of London.

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As one might expect there are lots of chocolate delectables for desert but there are other options including one of Duchess’ favourites — Rum Baba with a good shot of the local St Lucian rum.

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The atmosphere is smart and laid-back at the same time. The restaurant is spacious, tastefully decorated in Hotel Chocolat’s trademark dark chocolate brown with magnificent views out over the estate. The staff are all very friendly and professional and diner was enhanced by a musician playing Bob Marley and Santana at just the right volume.

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DonQui is very glad he came and thought it was a most memorable experience. He highly recommends trying Hotel Chocolat at least once — an absolute must for chocoholics and adventurous diners looking for new flavour combinations.

For those not planning on going to St Lucia just yet, Hotel Chocolat also has restaurants in the UK; in London and Leeds.

Chocolate Indulgence

Earlier last year DonQui visited Bakewell. While there Duchess treated him to a day long Chocolate making course at Harrington’s School of Food and Drink.

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Apart from making some rather delicious treats, DonQui learned quite a lot about chocolate and how to use it.

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Generally speaking DonQui tends to concentrate on savoury courses, often going without dessert, having cheese instead or simply making a fresh fruit salad. Now, despite a slightly expanded Christmas waistline, he decides to put his chocolate skills to the test and try his hand at making a chocolate mousse.

With apologies for DonQui’s usual lack of precision measurements, his recipe is as follows:

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Ingredients
good quality dark chocolate broken up into bits (about 2/3 of a bar)
a knob of unsalted butter
3 egg whites
2 egg yolks
a splash of whipping cream (or liquid double cream)
a scoop of caster or icing sugar

Method

bain marie.jpgGently melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie (in a bowl over warm water)

Whip up the egg whites until they form stiff peaks then gradually add in the sugar, continuing to beat it all together.

Beat the egg yolks and set aside

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Warm up the cream until just short of boiling

Take the melted chocolate and butter mixture off the head and gradually add the warm cream, stirring it gently until well mixed. Then add the beaten egg yolk and do the same.

Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the stiff sugared egg whites. Mix it all together but not too vigorously as that will collapse the egg whites.

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Spoon into serving dishes, sprinkle with a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder on top and put in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

 

 

 

A Chocolaty Breakfast

Yes it it probably true that DonQui is slightly obsessed with breakfast.

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When he came across this chocolateria in Granada he just had to try out their breakfast special of Churros, hot chocolate and fresh orange juice.

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It was rather delicious. Churros are super light fried dough, served hot for dipping into the very thick pudding-like hot chocolate — all rather delightfully decadent!