One of our waitstaff was recently forced to engage in a particularly distasteful acitivity known as a business trip. We ourselves have never been forced to participate in one of these, but on the few occasions when one of our waitstaff does, it’s usually greeted with a heavy sigh and many promises to return quickly. These events usually require only a few days, and there is much joy when the trip comes to an end. There are any number of reasons for this happiness, not least of which is the appearance of gifts for those of us who remained at home.
This most recent trip was to New York City and managed to include a visit to one of our favorite places, Brooklyn. There’s a lot of great things to be found in Brooklyn, including one of our favorite chocolatiers, Jacques Torres. A native of Southern France, Jacques found his passion for chocolate early in life. His amazing talent led to an invitation to serve as the executive pastry chef at the famed Le Cirque restaraunt in 1989, a title he joyfully held for 11 years.
In 2000, Jacques began his next odyssey, opening his own chocolate shop in downtown Brooklyn, in an up an coming neighborhood known as DUMBO. Torres was determined to have total control over his chocolate manufacturing. With that in mind, he set up his facility so that he could process the cacao beans that he personally selected for production.
That dedication paid off, and Jacques Torres chocolates now includes seven shops and one 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Brooklyn. The original location, however, is still our waitstaff’s favorite spot, and after partaking of some delicious confections on-site, our human wisely remembered to purchase some delicacies for those still at home as well. So this recent weekend was spent indulging in light-as-air macaroons, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies, and, of course, a variety of chocolates that can do some pretty amazing things for one’s taste buds.
And what to enjoy with this lovely bounty? Based on the recommendation of a good friend, we tested a bottle of Vin Santo with our chocolate, rather than the old vine red wine we usually enjoy. Vin Santo is an Italian dessert wine, made from grapes that have been dried for months before being processed. And it’s a long and complicated process. The result, however, is remarkable.
Vin Santo’s are sweet and thick, but like many traditional wines, always carefully balanced. It’s just heavy enough to coat your mouth but you need not fear the dreaded cough syrup effect – this is slow and soothing and yummy, yummy. Our bottle was from Isole e Olena in Tuscany and it was an excellent match for the chocolate. Sweet, yet not overpowering, a careful balance of apricot and caramel that blended and fused with the powerful chocolate. Separately, they are delicious. Together, it was a symphony of incredible flavors.
The only downside – Vin Santo’s are not always easy to come by, a result of the time-consuming process of making this wine. If you have an opportunity, however, it should not be missed. Vin Santo, chocolate, it’s a perfect pairing.