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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

WBW13: pink chocolate?


As you are reading this, I am sipping Margarita in Los Cabos in Baja California. I'm on vacation. (Yes, evidently one doesn't need a job to have a vacation.) Anyhow, though I'm away, I couldn't possibly miss my friend Clotilde's turn at hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday. Although I must admit, Clotilde, dahling, that I am going to have to cheat a little.

I didn't have time to bake my own cake, you see? (Yes, apparently I find not having a job to be incredibly time consuming.) Instead, I chose a chocolate dessert at my local hangout Incanto. And you know what, it's not even a cake at all, though it certainly was intensely gooey and chocolate-y. It will just have to do.

OctopusbeansIncanto is a cute little Italian restaurant in Noe Valley (that's right here in San Francisco, my dear out-of-town readers). It is the kind of restaurant that I just love, with a young chef (Chris Cosentino) who fashions himself an artisan, with a palpable passion for his métier. I see him just about every week at the farmers market, scouring the stalls looking for interesting and delicious ingredients for his restaurant.

The food here is entirely unpretentious, combining rustic Italian technique with wonderful local ingredients. Inspired by Fergus Henderson at St.John, Chris insists on featuring offal on his menu. Only one or two in a day's menu, mind you, but in the world where misguided researchers work to turn dark meat chicken into white meat to supply even more misguided demands, a courage to have anything beyond foie gras on the menu is to be commended.

Today, the chocolate cake came right after a lovely meal, with housemade salumi, wonderful pastas, and even more wonderful spicy grilled poussin and pan-seared tuna. (See more of the meal on my Flickr.) As I said before, it's not exactly a cake, but more like a fondue. The Fonduta, as it's called here, was served with biscotti, housemade tuille and marshmallow, and a few slices of sweet summer peach for dipping.

Taylorport1977I had two wines to go with this. The first was a classic wine/chocolate pairing: a vintage port, 1977 Taylor Fladgate. It's an easy pick, I suppose, since the nose of cherry, dark fruit, and even chocolate itself made it a gorgeous pairing with any chocolate dessert. This one didn't disappoint either, although I must admit I had a pang of regret for drinking that bottle now, as it could easily last decades more, and develop to be even more complex than it already is.

Brachetta_1The second pairing, I thought, was a little bit risky. It was chosen by Incanto's Wine Director Ed Ruiz, who has always been a great help navigating the Italian-heavy wine list, especially for someone like me who barely knew a Super Tuscan from a Super Toocan. Since we already had the Taylor Port, Ed decided that we would take a little chance with a fun pairing: 2004 Brachetto Birbert from Piemonte. And, get this, it's pink! Pink wine and chocolate are hardly a match made in heaven in my book, but as I have yet to be really disappointed by any of Ed's selection, I decided to give it a chance.

The result? Better than I expected, I must admit. The wine was lightly sweet, with a good balance of acidity, and a nose of watermelon, strawberry, and even a little cherry. It would have been a dodgy pairing had the chocolate fonduta been served by itself, because the light Brachetta would barely stand up to such an intense attack of chocolate. In this case, however, the fonduta was tempered by the fruits and other accompaniments, which lessened the intensity of chocolate a few notches, while allowing the brightness of the wine to come through. It was a gutsy pairing, and one that worked much better than I expected.

So all is well that ends well. Like Water for Chocolate chez moi is pink, and delicious even. And now I shall beg my leave, must be getting back to my margaritas before you-know-who drinks them all. Ta.

Oh, right, and before I go, Bud Teasley, Incanto's pastry chef was kind enough to share his recipe for the fonduta with us. Here you go.


1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup corn syrup
16 oz dark chocolate, preferably more than 70% cocoa, chopped

1. Bring the first 5 ingredients just to a boil in a heavy sauce pan
2. Turn off the flame and add the chocolates, stirring until completely dissolved.

This will make a makes a pretty thick chocolate. If you want to thin it a bit, just add some milk until you get a desired consistency.

You could also add hazelnut paste to make a nice gianduja fonduta.

Serve with biscotti, tuille, marshmallow, or even fruits and berries.


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