On Tuesday evening I was invited to a rather interesting Lindt event. Hosted at the famous Pearl Restaurant & Bar by executive chef Jun Tanaka, the event was designed to showcase some of Lindt’s Excellence range, in particular the newest addition to their line up, Lindt Excellence Wasabi.
Also in attendance was Lindt master chocolatier Stefan Bruderer, complete with silly outfit and over the top chef’s hat that made him look exactly like the chef from Ratatouille. I did not see any evidence of rats, but that might simply be because they were hard at work in the kitchen.
The focus of the evening was on three flavours; wasabi, sea salt and chilli. Jun and has team had prepared four dishes each showcasing these flavours, with three of them featuring Lindt chocolate. Each dish was also paired with a wine, designed to complement or enhance the flavours. The first dish, cured salmon with pickled chilli & wasabi mayonnaise was the only one which contained no chocolate, but was designed to show off the three other flavours in a single dish.
Next up came the highlight of the evening; braised chilli chocolate beef cheeks with celeriac mash and glazed beetroot. This was simply divine, and the beef just fell apart on the fork. The flavours of the chilli chocolate sauce worked perfectly with the meat. It was genuinely one of the nicest dishes I’ve tasted in a very long time. Unsurprisingly, everyone in the room cleaned their plates.
Next up was a wasabi chocolate maki roll which Jun informed us had to be dipped in the sauce and downed in one. Some people managed that, but it was just too big for my delicate mouth, so I ended up making a mess. An enjoyable mess, but a mess nonetheless.
Our final course was a dark sea salt chocolate molleux with cherry and yoghurt sorbet. This was a delicious and rich dessert, with the yoghurt sorbet being the perfect palate cleanser at the end.
But of course, one of my main reasons for going was to try Lindt’s new Wasabi bar. After having reviewed chocolate wasabi peas recently, I was interested to see how this stacked up. I’ll be doing a full review of the bar soon, but my initial impressions were positive. Lots of the wasabi flavour came through, and it wasn’t frighteningly hot.
I have been criticised in the past for saying nice things about Lindt when some people would prefer we concentrate solely on fine chocolate, but the fact remains that Lindt is much more accessible than most other brands in its class, and is vastly superior to the Cadbury, Nestlé and Mars confectionery that it’s usually sold alongside in the UK. As an introduction to better quality chocolate, this can only be a good thing, and while I’d love for Lindt to be talking more about bean origins and ethics, Lindt’s excellence range is a great introduction to real chocolate.
I found myself being surprised at just how much fun this event was. Jun Tanaka’s food was incredible, went well with the chocolate and was perfectly matched to the selection of wines we tried. While I don’t buy a lot of Lindt myself, I enjoyed what I tasted, and it clearly went down very well with people in the room who don’t eat quite as much chocolate as I do.
But most of all, I appreciate the fact that Lindt are taking time to talk about their chocolate here in the UK. Having a name like Lindt getting involved in promoting real chocolate in the UK is a great way to raise people’s expectations of what to expect from their every day chocolate bar. We have lots of amazing smaller chocolatiers, particularly in London, and it’s great to see one of the bigger names taking notice of our changing tastes in chocolate.
And don’t worry, I’ll be posting some of the recipes from the evening very soon!