- Published on September 10, 2013
- Written by Lexi Castagna
You are cordially invited to a 5-course tasting menu. The catch: each dish is chocolate infused. Are you a chocaholic? Could you handle these taste explosions?
Il Fornaio’s San Francisco Restaurant recently partnered with TCHO to bring this fabulous concept to life. Spearheaded by Chef Ivan Giansante — an Italian through and through, with a passion for chocolate, hand picked each ingredient, from creamy caramel SeriousMilk™, to dark and intense PureNotes, and innovatively integrated it all into a set of uniquely conjured dishes, and carefully selected wines. How on earth would a chocolate enthusiast such as my self, pass up this opportunity? You might have guessed, I had the good fortune of attending.
The evening was a palate-opening experience. A culinary journey. A defiant moment in time, readying each willing personage present that night, to explore what it truly means to taste. After having our palates teased by some bubbly, olives, meat and cheese, followed by a warm welcome and introduction from an excited Chef Ivan, entered the first course…
Chocolate covered nibs added the perfect crunch to a berry adorned, and vinaigrette drizzled salad.
A roasted garlic and rosemary infused chocolate sauce married surprisingly well with salty and earthy flavours from pancetta-wrapped, eggplant and ricotta-stuffed quail.
And finally, where Chef Ivan truly showed his skill and expertise, his passion and his culinary know-how, was in a simple, and yet intricately concocted, milk chocolate mousse. Every flavour was pronounced, and allowed to shine in its own time, in its own right; while simultaneously highlighting the next. Each layer was distinct, evolving naturally from one to the next. From a flash of salt, to rich, creamy milk chocolate, moving smoothly on to the most fabulously flavourful honey, followed by the subtlest yet powerful peppery finish. The definition of balance. Perfection.
While, as one might imagine, there was indeed, a lot of chocolate, to experience another’s desire and excitement, to overturn prejudice, and contradict tradition, was too enticing to miss. The pairing of sweet and savoury elements in any dish, is so grossly under appreciated. I encourage you all to explore beyond your boundaries. To trust that mind-blowing culinary experiences can be made outside traditional circumstance. Don’t be afraid to try.
Thank you, Chef Ivan and your culinary team, for taking us on this journey with you at Il Fornaio. This is only the beginning of a fabulous, chocolate adventure.
As part of TCHO’s Inside Sales team, Chloë manages specialty retail accounts, wheeling and dealing to bring them all of the TCHO Chocolate they so desire. A true chocoholic to the core, she even has her own tumblr blog dedicated to exploring (and indulging) in a few of her favourite things: photography, travel, and of course, food! Check it out here — cocoamemo.tumblr.com