Chocolate and I don’t mix very well, I don’t know why, but for some reason we’ve never got on, apart from very rare occasions. There aren’t many food stuffs I don’t like to eat, but my hates/avoids are bananas – can’t stand the things, olives unless cooked in a sauce, raw peppers and chocolate. I think as a child and probably as an adult when I think chocolate I’ve thought about those standard bars off the counter, of which I haven’t eaten by choice since I was in the first years of high school. Every year when it comes to Easter eggs, I don’t buy one for me, it’s for my husband and when he offers me some I say ‘no thanks’ because it’s wasted on me because I know I won’t enjoy it. A segment of chocolate takes me minutes to eat, rather than seconds, probably odd to many, if not all of you reading this!!
My struggle with it came more than apparent when my friend Lucy and I went to a pop up supper club last year, one of the courses basically had virtually all my pet hates on one plate! Suffice to say, I barely touched it and thought it was gross.
However, after attending the Get The Glow supper club recently, I found out about the complexities of chocolate used in cooking and its benefits. The night ended with me actually enjoying a raw chocolate dessert, something I thought would never happen. So when I received an invitation from Roast + Conch at Hotel Chocolat to look at their new cookbook and try out some dishes from the menu, I thought long and hard about whether accepting a place would be valuable to me, was there any point in me going if there was a high chance of me hating it. Or should I give it a go and find out more, just like I did with coffee? I reluctantly accepted the invite and last week for the first time ever I stepped over their threshold.
Their restaurant has an influence of chocolate incorporated in some form in every dish on the menu, this scared me a little until I realised that it’s not as if they are putting grated milk chocolate on everything and mix together to create some sort of monstrosity. The dishes are inventive and they use cacao as the base for the products that come from it, such as cacao nibs, cacao infused gin and cacao oil. In fact their menu isn’t really about chocolate at all, instead they use cacao to try and enhance and all the more subtle for it!!
I tried a few samples and was really surprised at how underwhelming the chocolate was, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but completely in a positive way as I’ve always found it sickly, too rich and cloying.
It’s given me a new perspective on chocolate and opened my eyes to it a little more, I’m still yet to be convinced if I could have a meal at Hotel Chocolat, but I certainly have a better understanding of the product now and can appreciate the complexities involved in the dishes.
Roast + Conch
55 Boar Lane