Friday, October 4, 2013

A Chocolate Tasting Menu

Friday night I was invited to partake in a chocolate tasting menu at William Curley's pimlico location. We are all a bit uncertain about what this entails and upon entering a brightly lit, half empty room, only broken up by the jarring sound of elevator music running on the stereo am frankly prepared to be disappointed.

We are a group of six and our hostess first offers us a seat at the bar, which we reject before being moved to a table. We are offered water and get a glass of bubbly - which is part of the menu. (But only one glass, after which we are left with just tap water). The bubbly is fine. And with that the evening commences with a poached white peach and champagne granita. It is light and playful and palate awakening. I am ready and eager for the next four courses. 

William Curley:

First a chocolate sorbet with classic compote. It really tasted more like an incredibly cool and light mouse on a just ever so gently bitter berry bed. It was good and certainly a cocoa fix. We then moved on to the coconut rice pudding on tropical compote accompagnied by ginger madeleines. This was really wonderful. The coconut rice pudding was fantasticly smooth and the tropical compote deliciously fruity. It was like eating a palm tree and white beach holiday. I was, by now, impressed and had already decided that this would be my favorite desert of the evening. Oh, was I mistaken. 

Chocolate sorbet and coconut pudding (this evening is well under way):

Of course the coconut pudding was upstaged by the next two courses; pain perdu of caramelised pears with almond milk icecream and a chocolate and sesame tart with raspberry sauce and jasmin sorbet. Where to begin. Well after we finished the coconut pudding it smelled and looked a bit like the kitchen caught fire following which an indulging scent of caramel whift through the room and we were overcome with sweet desire. The plate arrived with two beautiful pieces of baguette soaked in liquid warm caramel, a few slices of pear an deeply creamy icecream. Every bite utter perfection. Disconcerting only becasue we all at the end wondered how best we could spoon, slurp and then lick our plate for every last drop of the caramelised wonder . 

Two more bits of heaven:
Perhaps as a result of the sugar rush that had by now ensued, the last dish really was the grande finale. Incredulously toppling every plate that came before it. A deep, rich and decadent chocolate tart on a crunchy sesame tart base assompagnied by properly flowery, and mindblowingly understated jasmine sorbet. The dark and the light nicely tied together by trickles of sapient raspberry sauce. It was truly a moment to savour.

I was left feeling satiated by cocoa, tropical fruits and berries along with some innovative twists (I am looking at you: almond milk icecream, jasmin sorbet, and ginger madeleines). Even the lack of liquids (I am looking at you: my glass of tap water) was actually fine, because the menu was otherwise so eloquently executed. It was thus a very special night, where I not only learned that I can eat five deserts in a row. I do have a point when I say no to desert (after the fifth course, but before the petit four). In Texas they have groupons for gun liscencing. And dang, a few night later; curled up at home watching breaking bad; when I finally opened my doggy bag of petit fours; William Curley makes mesmerisingly fine chocolate. 
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