At the recent Melbourne Food and Wine Festival was a day called Wicked, in which the ‘Melt’ chocolate hall was my very first – and most important – port of call.
Amongst the divine range of chocolates on offer to taste, talk about, purchase and admire, was a range that was almost hiding amongst bottles of Spanish olive oil and 12 year-old balsamic vinegars. We had a taste of the vinegar first, which the proprietor of Oliveria, Morri, said is drunk with hot water in Japan and drizzled over breads, salads, meats and fish by Aussie enthusiasts. Love Chunks commented that it was ‘Fine enough to drink on its own.’
However, it was the three hand-made chocolate flavours that were next to the deli items that intrigued me enough to buy a box.
The first one was the Balsamico Blance de Espana (green dot on top) which combines dark chocolate, virgin olive oil and muscatel dessert wine grapes.
The second (yellow dot on top) was the Limon Siciliana, blending macerated organic Sicilian lemons that have been pressed together with Ligurian olives into an extra-virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.
The third (gold) was Fig Smyrna, presenting figs, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in dark chocolate.
The gentle scent of olive oil was present when they were cut open and the Balsamico tasted first of olive, then the balsamic followed by the dried-apricot chewiness and sweetness of the muscatel grapes inside. On the bottom half of the chocolate was a ganache of 70% dark and crème fraiche that partnered up with the subtleness of the olive oil to perfection.
We eagerly reached for the Limon Siciliana, which Morri told us is his most popular one sold in his Prahan store. The lemon flavour sang out first, but not too strongly, with a marmaladey tang accompanying the olive oil, ganache and smooth chocolate outer shell. Absolutely lovely.
Lastly, the Fig Smyrna. This was a delicious combination of dried figs, olive oil, vinegar and ganache that despite the oddness of the ingredients, made the chocolate taste smooth, sweet, creamy and tangy all at the same time. The figs were hard to detect as anything other than a chewy fruit but they contributed a dusky and earthy flavour as the ganache quickly melted away on the tongue.
I never thought that olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chocolate could be combined so brilliantly and was even more intrigued to hear Morri say that the new flavours of sun dried tomato and anchovy were being created and will be available to try soon. Stay tuned.