Welcome to the Dark Side: A Savory Chocolate Feast

Looking to channel your inner chef? Are you bored with your go-to recipes? We’re here to help and provide inspiration for new meals you can make at home with Vinous in the Kitchen. Led by Eric Guido, Vinous’ resident Italian wine critic and also a professionally trained chef, Vinous in the Kitchen is a series of delicious recipes you can easily prepare at home. Through his video tutorial and accompanying article, Eric will guide you through each recipe step-by-step, offering useful tips and techniques, as well as ideas on wine pairings. Find the bottles on Delectable, and make sure to share your own favorite pairings. A chocolate feast is on the menu today. Buon appetito! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Graphic artist, children's book illustrator, musician, designer, amateur chef and professional chocolate taster (you read that right); these are just a few of the talents that make Genevieve Leloup one of the most interesting people I know. However, what inspired me to invite her onto an episode of Vinous in the Kitchen is Genevieve’s ability to mix her passion for chocolate and cooking to create some of the tastiest and thought-provoking dishes imaginable. Now, if your mind has suddenly taken you to thinking of simple samples of fine chocolate and sweet dishes gingerly laid out for the taster’s enjoyment, STOP. Instead, imagine a meal centered on every manifestation of chocolate imaginable. Savory, salty, sour and sweet. Genevieve Leloup's culinary education started in one of the best schools possible: her mother's kitchen. The daughter of a masterful cook and professional baker, Genevieve would spend as much time as possible learning the tricks of the trade. It wasn’t long before she started to record her knowledge and preparations in a food diary, written by hand, which serves as a collection of recipes, friends and culinary memories. She still uses this book, and she even brought it along with her to share these recipes with you and me. Not only did she school me in using chocolate for savory preparations and the responsible practice of seeking out bean-to-bar creations, she also taught me a lot about how to taste chocolate. TASTING CHOCOLATE 101 Much like wine, chocolate only reveals its best traits when given the proper attention. For instance, you should first allow the chocolate to warm a bit in your hand, and then cup your hands around your nose and breath in deeply. Remember, what we taste is really what we smell (as a matter of fact, between 60%-70%). Next, place the chocolate in your mouth and chew for only a very short while. Push the chocolate up against the top of your palate (it’s the warmest spot in your mouth), which will warm it even further. Throughout this process, remember to breathe deeply and let the air pass over your palate as you do so. Move the chocolate around your mouth and chew as it feels natural. In the end, you can find more aromas and flavors in a piece of chocolate than you can in even the most complex wines. BACK TO THE SAVORY SIDE With Genevieve at the helm, and me playing swing chef and sommelier, we created three savory preparations using three different kinds of chocolate. For the sauce (or condiment) that would go with the fish, we used an 85% bean-to-bar chocolate. For the fish itself, we coated it in an earthy, fruity and nutty mixture of hazelnut, rosemary and cacao nibs (which are basically roasted and crushed cacao beans). Lastly, for the Roasted Beet and Chocolate Crostini, we used a fine cacao powder. To cap off our evening, I created my ultimate cheese plate which, of course, was adorned with pieces of dark chocolate for snacking, but that’s another episode for another day. Follow the recipes below, and you’ll be amazed by the results. The chocolate never overpowered in any of these preparations. Instead, it accentuated and added depths of unexpected aromas and flavors. As for the wine pairings, which is likely the part of these preparations that most people would assume is the most intimidating, it’s actually easier than you think. When you consider what to pair with chocolate, it’s the level of sweetness that you must consider first. The sweeter the chocolate, the further you get from being able to pair it with a dry wine. Sweeter wines work well when you fall below 80% dark chocolate. In fact, if I was asked to pair a wine with dark chocolate, but not a savory chocolate dish, my first thought would be an off-dry, bubbly Lambrusco. However, once we reach the level of milk chocolate, it’s better to look at something like bourbon, which is a perfect chocolate pairing. What’s interesting about the preparations below is that the more difficult thing to pair with is the acidity, not the chocolate. As for the fish itself, think of it more as a neutral vessel that’s carrying the amazingly complex flavors and aromas of the crust we’re creating. When you consider that, the pairing options change drastically. Below are my suggestions, but I think it also pays to mention that the wine that paired best with all of these recipes was the white Burgundy. WATCH THE FULL VIDEO TUTORIAL HERE THE WINE PAIRINGS: Gewürztraminer (This is a perfect pairing for all things fish and especially the beet and chocolate spread.) - Featured: 2018 Kofererhof Valle Isarco Gewürztraminer Riesling Kabinett (An off-dry and filigree Riesling has the acidity and ripeness to handle everything on these plates.) - Featured: 2015 Weingut Johannishof Johannisberger Riesling Kabinett Riesling Trocken or GG (This is a game of contrasts, using the intense acids of the Riesling to counterbalance the dressings, sauces and citrus on these plates.) - Featured: 2012 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Trocken White Burgundy (Now we’re talking about contrasts and complements. The crust on the cod and the white Burgundy are a match made in heaven, along with enough acidity to stand up against the dressings and sauces.) - Featured wine: 2017 Paul Pillot Saint-Aubin 1er cru Les Pitangerets Pinot Bianco (Think of Pinot Grigio with more body and fruit, and you have Pinot Bianco. Same great acidity, yet voluminous and pliant.) - Featured wine: 2019 Elena Walch Pinot Bianco ROASTED BEET AND CHOCOLATE CROSTINI Can be served as an appetizer, hors d'oeuvres or accompaniment to your meal. Ingredients (Makes around 20 Crostini): 4 roasted red Beets (roasted at 400 degrees for 1 ½ hours, peeled and chopped) 2 tablespoons of Bourbon 4 plump dates, chopped 4 teaspoons of cacao powder 2 cloves of garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons of lemon juice ½ cup roasted walnuts (chopped) ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt 2 tablespoons of tahini (make sure to stir well until consistently smooth) 1 baguette 1 bunch of fresh basil ½ cup of fresh ricotta cheese THE PROCESS: 1. Warm the bourbon and pour over the chopped dates. Allow this to soak for five minutes. 2. Put the roasted beets, lemon juice, cacao powder, garlic, walnuts, chopped dates, sea salt and tahini into a food processor and process until you reach a mostly smooth consistency. 3. Turn off the food processor, scrape down the sides, and process again until completely smooth. 4. Cut your baguette crosswise into ½-inch slices. You can toast these if serving immediately. 5. Using a spoon, spread the beet and chocolate mixture evenly over each piece. 6. Add a dollop of ricotta cheese, garnish each one with a basil leaf and serve. HAZELNUT AND COCOA NIB CRUSTED COD The Chocolate Vinegar Sauce Ingredients (Makes 4-5 servings): 3 1/2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar 3 1/2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar ½ cup of white sugar 1 ounce of 85% dark chocolate THE PROCESS: 1. Place the Apple Cider and Balsamic Vinegars in a small pot over a medium-low flame. 2. Slowly pour in the sugar while whisking until the sugar melts into the mix. 3. Lower your flame and allow this mixture to simmer for five minutes. 4. After five minutes, remove the sauce from the flame and whisk in the chocolate until completely melted. 5. Allow this mixture to cool completely. THE FISH Ingredients: 2 pounds of Cod cut into equal size portions 1 Organic Lemon zested 1 Organic Orange zested 4 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, chopped 80 grams of cacao nibs A few cracks of Wild Madagascar pepper (or your favorite black pepper) 1/2 cup of roasted hazelnuts chopped fine 1 egg white Sea Salt for seasoning THE PROCESS: 1. Combine the hazelnuts, cacao nibs, rosemary, lemon and orange zests in a large bowl, and mix them together until consistent. 2. Lay out your cod fillets and brush them with egg white. 3. Season the fillets with sea salt. 4. Slowly pour the hazelnut and cacao nut mixture over each fillet, patting it down to create a crust. 5. Carefully flip each fillet, brush them with egg whites on this side and season with salt. 6. Again, slowly pour the hazelnut and cacao nut mixture on this side of each fillet, patting it down to create a crust. 7. Place a sauté or frying pan (you may need two) over a medium flame and add either avocado oil or ghee to coat the bottom of the pan. 8. Once the oil has heated through, gently add the fillets to the pan. 9. Sauté over medium heat for two-three minutes on each side. 10. Move the fillets to your plates, and dress with the chocolate vinegar sauce. You can choose to drizzle it over each fillet or drizzled on the plate itself. 11. Serve with a fresh salad of greens dressed with vinaigrette (see below). SALAD AND VINAIGRETTE Ingredients: 5 ounces of field greens (mixed greens) 1 Belgium Endive (washed, outer layer peeled and sliced crosswise into bite size portions) ½ Shallot fine dice 5 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar 1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard 1 teaspoon of the Chocolate Vinegar Sauce from above Salt to taste THE PROCESS: 1. Toss the greens with the Belgium endive in a large bowl. 2. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Add the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, shallot and Dijon mustard into a separate bowl, and whisk until consistent. 4. Add the teaspoon of chocolate vinegar sauce and whisk again. 5. Season with salt to taste. 6. Pour the vinaigrette over your salad leaves, toss one last time and serve. --Eric Guido, Welcome to the Dark Side: A Savory Chocolate Feast, August 2020 Check out previous Vinous in the Kitchen Recipes: Some Like It Hot – Hot Wings, That Is The Sweet Heat of Cajun Dry-Rubbed Ribs Fire-Roasted Branzino with Swiss Chard Horta In Pursuit of the Perfect Burger

Stony Hill

Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014

Fish pairing. — 3 years ago

Matt, Mike and 3 others liked this

Domaine Paul Pillot

Les Pitangerets Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Chardonnay 2015

Alex Jones

Delicious. Minerality, freshness, pair, lemon zest, candied apple. Young for now. — 4 years ago

Keith liked this


Monzinger Halenberg Trocken Riesling 2012

Another fantastic performance, the bouquet was gorgeous, opening with intense minerality and wet slate, gaining richness in the glass as notes of peach and pineapple formed, then changing to smoke, crushed stone and floral undergrowth. On the palate, it showed razor-like focus with tantalizing acidity, giving way to notes of melon, green apple, minerals and lime. There's so much tension here as a coating of minerals and citrus saturated the senses, made the checks pucker, and lasted for up to a minute. #riesling #nahe — 7 years ago

Anthony, TheSkip and 7 others liked this

Parés Baltà

Cosmic White Xarello - Sauvignon Blanc Blend

From 750m high hills. Tropical note but grapefruit taste. Good for fish. 85% Xarel. — 3 years ago

St. Clement Vineyards

Oroppas Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

In Houston at a BYOB friendly restaurant. Carpaccio, beet salad, pork chop and skirt steak were all delicious with this wine. — 4 years ago

Billy and Robert liked this

Weingut Johannishof (H.H. Eser)

Johannisberg Kabinett Riesling 2010

This was better after some time in the decanter. Generous concentrated pineapple fruit was way out in front of the acid at first. Airtime brought it into balance, but the structure here is definitely moderate. Good wine for a cheese course. — 7 years ago

David, speedy and 27 others liked this

Château Soucherie

Les Rangs de Long Anjou Chenin Blanc 2019

Chenin Blanc is a grape that’s growing on me by the day. It’s flexibility- and especially its ability to simply SHINE when paired with sushi or lighter, leaner white fish is (as I learn) one of its fundamental strong points. There are hints of pear, honeydew melon and limestone on the nose- but the Château Soucherie Anjou Blanc’s REAL secret is how it meets, greets, and seduces the palate with a lean mouth-feel that bursts across every sense involved. With time to breathe it only gets better. #RosenthalWines — 3 years ago

Beth Zitzman
with Beth
Beth, David and 6 others liked this

Elena Walch

Alto Adige Pinot Bianco 2018

Alder Yarrow

Lemon pith and lemon oil flavors are bright and crystalline, with no trace of wood and nice minerality. — 4 years ago

Alex, John and 10 others liked this


Valle Isarco / Eisacktaler Gewürztraminer 2012

Just a beautiful wine. 7/14/15 no place better than the red onion on a Tuesday night — 8 years ago