A chance meeting at The Wine Show made a celestial match – or perhaps that should be fiendish marriage.
So that’s the Wine Show done for another year, four days of unrelenting wine talk, still overall a good time was had by all. I made two discoveries this year. The first was Argentinean winery Doña Paula, 96 bottles of their wine passed through my hands over the weekend, but the one that left a lasting impression was Los Cardos Malbec. You’d be hard pressed to find a more supple and juicy glass of red, especially for £5.99 a bottle (Oddbins).
The second discovery was a weird and wonderful chocolate mix. Opposite the Wines of Argentina booth, where I was putting in the hours, was a stand for a company selling/promoting organic chocolate called Cocoa Loco (www.cocoaloco.co.uk) manned by owner Rory Payne. He took a shine to my colleague, the beautiful Rubenesque Rachel and threw chocolates across the aisle at her. But then Rachel is a woman who deserves to be pelted with truffles, so it all made sense.
As well as the usual delicious chocolate guises Cocoa Loco dished up chocolate bars flavoured with chili pepper. It’s an odd but very successful combination as the melting bitter opulence of the dark chocolate combines with the exhilarating heat of the pimento in a surprisingly smooth juxtaposition. But the pleasure isn’t limited to the palate, there’s also a natural high.
The chocolate releases seratonins in the brain creating a happy feeling, as seratonins are used to counteract depression it is a singularly potent ingredient. However combined with chili, which releases natural endorphins also giving a sense of physical and mental well-being, this confectionary is truly mind-altering.
The Aztecs knew about the power of these ingredients and believed them to be an aphrodisiac. They brewed a potent drink and ‘doubly’ hot chocolate is still probably the easiest way to serve up this flavoursome twosome.
Cocoa Loco offer both white and dark chocolate bars enhanced with chilli, (the latter are far superior in my bitter loving opinion). They also make wonderful squidgy brownies and suggest adding chocolate to chilli con carne to make a deep dark sauce. So there are clearly many ways to play this pair.
However I have decided that such an exotic marriage of ingredients merits a presentation that also lifts the heart as well as the mind and that has to be the chocolate chilli cupcake. The cupcake has to be the most frivolous of cakes (although I’ll agree that the macaroon makes a close second). So imagine a chocolate cupcake individually iced with the darkest chocolate and laced with fiery chilli. Could a patisserie be a big tease? Now I just need to find some brave souls willing to taste these Lucifer’s fairies. Any takers?