It had been quite a while since I had the chance to experiment with pairings. The last time I experimented I paired a Knob Creek Small Batch 100 Proof with Alluvia 100% dark chocolate. You can read more about it here: http://eatsiprepeat.com/made-for-each-other-ii/. In that same post I had expressed a desire of pairing a brandy with the same chocolate. So since I had some solitude and time on hand this last weekend I decided to fulfil the desire to experiment with a cognac that Santa Claus (in the form of my father) got me last Christmas and some of the leftover 100% dark chocolate from my trip to Vietnam in February of last year.
REMY MARTIN VSOP WITH 100% DARK CHOCOLATE
Cognacs are generally more expensive than whiskies and even more so in this part of the world because of all the duties they attract. The Remy Martin VSOP is a cognac both my father and I enjoy from time to time especially after a rich and heavy dinner. For the uninitiated, cognac is nothing but a brandy that hails from the Cognac region of France. It is distilled from grapes which are used for making wines. The kinds of grapes that do not yield drinkable wine but a very dry and acidic variety are distilled into cognac. These varieties of grapes are usually very good for distillation and then subsequent ageing. The distilled spirit known as eau de vie is then aged in oak casks which are made from oak trees from Limousin, France. After this they are blended or married. The term VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale which means that the youngest cognac in the blend has to be aged in the oak casks for a minimum of four years. All cognacs from the house of Remy Martin are Fine Champagne cognacs i.e. the cognacs are a blend of distilled spirits or the eau de vie from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne regions of Cognac, France.
So much for cognac, now for the result of my experimental pairing. I had had a dinner of baked pork loin with seasonal veggies and was in the perfect mood for a tipple of cognac. I poured the Remy in a cognac snifter and let it sit for a while. I held the glass at the base of my palm, gave it a twirl and gently sniffed in the sweet fruity aromas that the cognac gave off. On sipping I found myself appreciating the sweet and silky spirit which continued to linger on my palate for a while after I had swallowed it down. The time was ripe I felt to bite into the chocolate. As expected from prior experience the chocolate was devoid of any sweetness and creaminess tasting like rich earthy cocoa.
Upon my second sip of the cognac I found that the elegant spirit tasted silkier and sweeter. More luxurious. The sweet fruity notes seemed to coexist now with a spicy tingle on the palate. I was expecting the profile of the chocolate to now become bitter. On the contrary the previously gritty earthiness gave way to creaminess. Of course when I refer to creaminess I do not mean as creamy as a 55% dark chocolate but use it in a more relative manner. The more I sipped the cognac and bit into the chocolate and let it melt slowly in my mouth I appreciated the chocolate bar’s lack of cocoa butter because I felt that presence of cocoa butter might have contradicted the smooth silkiness of the cognac. Gradually the intense earthy cocoa developed into woodiness with hints of nuttiness.
The experience of the experiment was heightened by Duke Ellington playing in the background and the gripping novel that I was reading. It is in ways like this that one tends to enjoy food and drinks with all of one’s senses primed to receive elements of the external world and let them each affect the mind in a way that it feels like a single memorable experience.