Discover the adventurous and exotic avatars of cocoa at the Chocolat Festival on at the Brunton Boatyard in Fort Kochi

So you thought chocolate is fit only as dessert? Or as postprandial sweet-somethings, as love tokens, as happy bites in happy times. No.Chocolate is all that and more. Discover the dark, bitter, sweet and sinful side of chocolate, in totally new versions, at the ongoing ‘chocolat’ festival at the Heritage Hotel, Brunton Boatyard in Fort Kochi. Demystifying the chocolate is what Chef Ajeeth J. has done.

“As a chef, as a son, as a man, as a husband or as a father, I have felt chocolate to be one of the most gastronomically satisfying things in this world ,” writes the chef in his note to patrons at the fest. And we know he is smitten, dunked deep in the gooey world of chocolate that everybody would wish to sink in.

The idea of a chocolate fest came up with a bigger and wider policy taken up by the hotel group, Cgh, to do away with trans-fats from the kitchen. A tall order indeed. But Ajeeth quickly switched over to couverture chocolate, a form with no vegetable oils and additives. “It is only chocolate from cocoa. It needs tempering to mould. It enhances the flavour of any product added to it.” And that’s the strain Ajeeth has used dramatically.

So begin with chocolate water served as schnapps—clear, colourless, distilled chocolate seeped through an ice bath. The drink is mystical and intriguing. It holds your breath as you take in chocolate in its most pristine and unadulterated form, elevated to a high degree of refinement and sophistication. It is intense and effective, too.

That sets the tone.

Then come the salads and soups with chocolate. Choose from tomato consommé with white chocolate juliennes or taste the sweetish white chocolate and cauliflower soup or if you wish for something more filling, go for the beef chilli soup cooked in chocolate.

Chilli and chocolate, says the chef, have been paired down the ages. “The Mayans and Aztecs had a potent beverage made from fermented cocoa beans and chilli. It was a speciality for the royals,” he says.

Chocolate is bold and goes extremely well with meat such as mutton and beef. But 10 trials, “no less,” he says in sheer glee, brought him on to the main course recipe. Mutton shanks, port wine and chocolate, which blends all the three flavours in a unique way.

Beef too, he says, comes to the fore when had with chocolate. In the fest, he has wrapped beef wellington, the signature of the hotel, into puff pastry made from cocoa butter. Chocolate sauce laces the dish.

The salads are as interesting. Macaroni, blue cheese and chocolate make up one. Another choice is of a salad of broken wheat and dry fruits with a dressing made from a paste of cocoa beans marinated in chilli and vinegar.

The grand finale of course is the dessert platter with a variety to choose from.

The black forest is perfected, the chocolate brownie is deconstructed, the homemade chocolate ice-cream is rehashed, and even spice is added to chocolate, cardamom flavours entwining the cocoa extract.

The limits are indeed stretched and the experience offered is novel. The end notes are as wonderful. A chocolate chilli clove drink that coaxes the taste buds to open up lustily, to smooch and lick every drop of chocolate.

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