Friday, December 20, 2013

La Joie de Vivre aux Chocolat - A Sweet and Savoury Chocolate Tasting Dinner

On November 18th I was invited to a very special sweet and savoury chocolate tasting. Hosted by Abbey Sharp of Abbey's Kitchen (Twitter: @AbbeysKitchen, Facebook: Abbey's Kitchen), this intimate six course chocolate dinner held at Playful Grounds showcased the talent of husband and wife team Chef Eyal Liebman and Sommelier Rebecca Meir. The duo successfully showed guests that chocolate - often viewed as one of the worlds most luxurious and desired foods - doesn't just belong in dessert.

Inspired by the founding fathers of French cuisine, Israeli-born Pâtissier Eyal Liebman is a culinary artisan whose creations are at once grounded in tradition and influenced by his middle-eastern roots. Having joined the Canadian culinary circle in 2008, Eyal studied under Maître Cuisinier de France Didier Leroy at Didier in Toronto. He has since further cultivated his craft at Pâtisserie Sebastien, Black Moon, Pain Perdu, 417 Restaurant+Lounge, Harbour Sixty Steakhouse, and is now the co founder of L is for... (Twitter: @EyalPastryChef, Facebook: L is Forwith his wife, Rebecca. With seven years of experience in the hospitality industry in Canada and abroad, Rebecca enjoys pairing Eyal's pastry oriented food with local and French wines that compliments Eyal's style of cooking. Rebecca is currently working as the assistant sommelier at Oliver & Bonacini's Luma.

We were treated to a sophisticated sweet and savoury tasting menu where Eyal utilized Valrhona chocolate in all his six courses. Each course was also paired with Stanners Vineyard (Twitter: @StannersWines, Facebook: Stanners Vineyard) wines which were hand-selected by Rebecca. 

Below is a recap of La Joie de Vivre aux Chocolat - A Sweet and Savoury Chocolate Tasting Dinner:

Cascumpec bay oyster & coca nibs infused tequila mignonette
Los Azulejos tequila

Black tiger shrimp, pure Madagascar chocolate mole sauce, frisee cucumber & mixed greens salad
Pinot Gris 2010

Rabbit terrine with pure Dominican Republic chocolate, Celtic Blue (Lancaster, ON), chocolate lavash
Pinot Noir 2011

Mediterranean style pickerel fish cake, parsnip puree with pure Venezuelan chocolate
Chardonnay 2010

Vol-au-vent (pate feuilletee chocolat), veau a la bourguignonne with pure Caribbean chocolate, maple glazed baby carrots & haricots verts
Cabernet Franc 2010

Tomato gelee, A L'Olivier (provence) olive oil & white chocolate mousse, macerated strawberries & lemon marmelade
Gris et Noir 2011

Chef Eyal confirms that chocolate is not reserved for just decadent desserts - it can be extremely versatile. With its smooth and silky texture, chocolate is not only an incredible texture-builder but also a key ingredient for bringing out other flavours in a dish (especially darker chocolates with their slightly acidic bitterness). It can thicken sauces, it can add colour too...the possibilities of chocolate are endless. Will we see more chefs in the city utilize this wonderful ingredient? I have my fingers crossed.

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*