Friday, December 11, 2009

LWF&D gorges on chocolate and wine at Bouchon Bakery

A few weeks ago I heard about this thing called the Circle of Taste, a promotional food-related group for the Time Warner Center restaurants and shops. I signed up and entered a few of their giveaways and then didn't give it a second thought (go on, you can sign up too-- click here). But then about a week ago I received a call on behalf of the Circle of Taste informing me that I'd actually won one of the slots at a "Chocolate Delight on a Star Filled Night," a chocolate and wine tasting at Bouchon Bakery. Score! So early on Thursday evening, I met SB, my good friend and +1 for the evening, at Bouchon for an evening of indulgence.

We were met by a high table set to accommodate the eight winners and their guests, with each place set with a menu and a goody bag. I love goody bags! This one included a few Time-Warner-Center-related items, including a reusable shopping bag (which I actually like), in addition to a star-shaped Christmas ornament that mimicked the enormous stars hung in the TWC's atrium and a box of chocolates from Bouchon. Yum.

The evening's bill of fare

The glorious light-filled atrium


Take-home chocolates!

We kicked off the evening with a glass of Bisson Prosecco, which we sipped while waiting for the first dessert to arrive. The prosecco was very, very dry, with an almost appley taste-- a bit austere at the start, but after a bit of air and a few sips the taste opened up.


And then the first dessert came, and we were off and running. Chef Sebastien Rouxel came out to introduce and describe the dessert, which he did prior to every course, a rare treat (I always like seeing the chefs who prepare the food. It makes it more personal!). The tasting started with white chocolate, a dessert entitled "Douceur Tropicale." A beautiful dome encased in white chocolate was filled with white chocolate cream on a base of rum cake. Next to the hemisphere sat a square of braised pineapple atop a square of citrus gelee, all accompanied by a smear of caramel jam. Though some don't enjoy the taste of white chocolate, I'm definitely a fan, and this dessert was right-on. The mousse inside the dome was ethereally light, and the thin piece of cake that formed the base of the dome was perfect. I'm a huge proponent of cooked pineapple-- I love it grilled, but apparently braised and seared works too-- so I loved that piece of the dessert as well. When I sipped the prosecco with the dessert, I found the bubbly almost too dry for the intense sweetness of the white chocolate. But a sip between courses was an excellent palate-cleanser.

Dome of delight, plus pineapple

White chocolate mousse

The next course started with a glass of Chateau la Rame Sainte Croix Du Mont, which turned out to be a honey-colored dessert wine. At first sip, it struck me as way too sweet, almost syrupy with a candied aroma and a faint taste of apricots. But this actually turned out to be the best pairing of the night-- when consumed with the milk chocolate "Tentation au Chocolat," the wine actually tasted less sweet and quite complementary. The dessert itself was a knockout, perhaps my favorite of the night. A scoop of milk chocolate cremeux-- basically a silky mousse-- was enrobed in a praline glaze and topped with three crackly chocolate bites. A tiny scoop of condensed milk sherbet sat atop a crumbly cookie of sorts. Oh, and there were two smears of sauce and a tangled tuile that tasted like bananas. The composition was a visual delight, and the sublime taste of that milk chocolate cremeux is pretty much engraved in my brain. Insane.

Sweet, sweet elixir

A milk chocolate composition

Inside the milk chocolate cremeux

Our final course began with a glass of Melville Estate Pinot Noir. After the unctuous sweetness of the dessert wine, the Pinot Noir tasted dark and almost harsh, but perhaps that made it an appropriate accompaniment to the dark chocolate "Tart au Chocolate Acidule." This dessert was another incredible composition, a layered stripe of chocolate cake, mousse, and dark chocolate ganache topped with a crinkle of gold leaf and a spiral of dark chocolate. A scoop of cranberry sorbet, draped in pink foam, sat atop a carpet of chocolate cookie soil. And then there was a spoonful of pure caramel, topped with a dehydrated cranberry tuile that tasted uncannilly like a fruit roll-up. I often find dark chocolate desserts to be too strong, just too much, but (perhaps due to all the wine?) I didn't have that problem with this plate-- everything, once again, was incredible. I'll admit my favorite part was the caramel-- smooth, sweet, and perfect-- but I also truly enjoyed the cake-mousse-ganache concoction.

A glass of melted rubies

Dark chocolate + upscale fruit roll-up = awesome

So, in sum, damnnnnnnn, Bouchon. These desserts were incredible, and sitting in the chattering Bouchon "dining room" (really a cordoned-off area of the third floor of the TWC) opposite a sparkling atrium with giant stars whose lights glittered to the tune of Christmas music... well, it was just an incredibly pleasant experience. And to think SB and I got all this food and drink, and an evening of quality catch-up time, gratis... well, it makes me want to keep entering all the contests I come across. And though it may increase my competition, I encourage you to do so as well-- you've got nothing to lose, and you may just win something truly sweet.

Circle of Taste
Time Warner Center
Ten Columbus Circle

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