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This week, we’ve got a fun and tasty chocolate and cheese tasting session for you. My friend Megan, a UX guru, master home baker, and renaissance woman, bought a bunch of goat cheeses from Surfing Goat Dairy in Hawaii, and was kind enough to share them with me back home! Additionally, I recently got a test box of chocolates from Chococurb, so figured this was as good a time as any to see if they’d pair with any cheeses. We had a great chocolate and cheese tasting session on the fly (sometimes good cheese tastings wait for no photo). Here are the chèvre flavors Megan brought back:
Garden Fantasia (with garden herbs), Mandalay (with apple bananas, curry), Purple Rain (with local lavender), Rolling Green (with fresh garlic chives), Mango Supreme (with fresh mangoes and mango chutney), and Feta (in olive oil, with rosemary). There was some bonus Liliko’i (passionfruit) jam from an exotic fruit farm in the mix as well.
We tasted them—I suspect that freezing had changed their texture a bit, making them more granular than if they had been fresh. That said, they were flavorful, and I enjoyed them all. I would say the base cheese was more animal tasting than milky. There were some favorite flavor combos—I especially loved the Rolling Green with chives (I’m such a sucker for chives!), Garden Fantasia with its secret herbal mix (we agreed it would probably go really well layered over salmon), Feta, and Mango Supreme (mmm, Hawaiian mangos!). Over all, the flavors were thoughtfully and creatively combined with the cheese, and in balanced amounts.
On to the chocolate tasting! We had on hand:
Cabruca Chocolate with Rapadura and Hazelnut, Dolcetta Milk Pretzel Bar, Theo Cream and Coffee Milk Chocolate Bar, Amedei Fondente Extra 63% bar with Apricots and Peaches, and Menakao’s 63% bar with Cocoa Nibs & Sea Salt.
Each bar was different—the rapadura (unrefined cane sugar) and hazelnut bar was gorgeous, really not very sweet at all, which is how like I like my chocolate. In contrast, the milk pretzel bar was a bit sweeter, so it felt a little more like a walk down memory lane, especially with the tiny bits of pretzel crunch and salt. I have loved crunchy, salty pretzels since I was a kid! The cream and coffee bar definitely had plenty of both of these things—maybe just have a couple squares of this instead of your morning coffee sometime. The Amedei bar with peaches and apricots had an unusual texture, a little on the flinty, dryer side, which I thought was interesting. The bits of fruit were tiny, but stuck to my teeth long after the chocolate had melted away. And lastly, the coco nib and sea salt bar by Menakao was a delight—I’m such a fan of crunchy cocoa nibs, and the bar delivered on flavor and texture.
So how did everything fare together? Here were my favorite cheese pairings with each chocolate:
Cabruca Chocolate with Rapadura and Hazelnut + Surfing Goat Dairy Feta
There is a sort of deep, leather quality in the chocolate’s taste that paired really well with the cheese, which was a smooth, not very tangy, feta. The ensemble was harmonious, with each element complementing the other elegantly.
Dolcetta Milk Pretzel Bar + Surfing Goat Dairy Mango Supreme
Who’d have thought that a mango-flavored goat cheese and a chocolate bar with pretzel bits would taste SO GOOD together? That’s the beauty of cheese pairing! Actually, I think the salt in the chocolate brought out some extra flavor in the cheese, and the cheese somehow accentuated the chocolate’s pretzel flavor.
Theo Cream and Coffee Milk Chocolate Bar + Surfing Goat Dairy Feta
This chocolate bar kind of reminds me of the Mokaccino bar from Tcho, which I’ve totally fallen in love with, except it’s got some more milkiness in it. With the Feta, the creamy chocolate really brought out the rosemary flavors in the cheese, and the chocolate seemed to gain notes of vanilla. It was another surprising, delicious combo! Megan also loved the Mandalay cheese with apple bananas and curry with this chocolate—together, the cheese and chocolate smoothed out completely, making for subtle, yet complex flavors. I found the chocolate took over the cheese at the finish.
Amedei Fondente Extra 63% con Pesche et Albicocche + . . . .
Out of all the chocolates, this was the most unusual. It had a slightly flaky texture, and a full flavor. Megan and I tried it with all the cheeses to no avail. At least in relation to our cheese selection, it was a stand-alone chocolate. Maybe you will find a cheese pairing with it, dear readers!
Menakao Bar 63% with Cocoa Nibs and Sea Salt + Surfing Goat Dairy Purple Rain
This is not your delicate, pretty lavender chèvre. I found it to be pretty assertive, with plenty of strong lavender. Together with the chocolate, I sensed the lavender of course, brambles, and then alternating salt and smoke at the finish. Both the cheese and chocolate were equally matched in terms of finish. But you know what, I also REALLY loved this chocolate with the Rolling Green cheese full of chives. It was kind of crazy, but highly enjoyable. Bring chocolate to the savory side! ;)
THANK YOU to Megan for leaving enough space in her suitcase for so many beautiful, delicious cheeses! And thank you to her husband Bob for letting me borrow her for a couple of hours. Thanks, Chococurb, for the sample box—they had no idea I was going to do this tasting when they sent me this package.
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