Every year, for the last seven, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to presenting beverage and chocolate pairing sessions at the venerable Oregon Chocolate Festival. With my hat off to the founder and brilliant colleague, Karolina, it was this year – the 7th anniversary for me – that just transpired, deliciously.

A few of the delicious DAGOBA chocolate we featured at the fest sessions.

As promised to my sold out Saturday session and my fabulous Sunday guests, here’s the menu we savored.

Openers, both sessions:

ScharffenBerger Unsweetened and Bittersweet chocolate squares

I hadn’t thought to offer this as a warm up to the pairing menu before; so this year, I did. Wow. What a way to welcome chocolate to the chops! These two in specific are quite astringent and eye-opening. They aren’t designed to be snackers – and they aren’t. It was enlightening to taste them with my guests, to reset and refresh what exactly bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates taste like, to keep their profile in mind when using them in cooking.

Main Menu Saturday:

Main Menu Sunday:

  • Harney & Sons Soho Flavored Black Tea paired with DAGBOA Lavender Blue chocolate (59% cocoa) and coconut slivers
  • Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo Sake paired with DAGOBA White Chocolate Raspberry Mint (0% cocoa) & DAGOBA Ginger Lime chocolate (37% cocoa)
  • Standing Stone Brewing Company Milk Chocolate Ale paired with DAGOBA Milk chocolate (37% cocoa)

It was the first year there was an alcohol free beverage in the mix. When I went to the DAGOBA showroom in Ashland to secure the chocolates, Jill (showroom manager + most excellent colleague) reminded me they carry plenty of chocolate AND other complementary goodies. As a tea drinker, I bought a tin of this tea, took it home, tried it and decided that it would be in the menu.

Is this a great (crazy) crew, or what!!??

What a fun surprise the final menu is for me, every year. I want to provide guests with unique flavor mixes and ideas. To that end, I believe I was successful.

The guests make the party – thanks to everyone who joined me. Apologies to the folks we turned away on Saturday (100 seats were full before we started!). Please come again next year – earlier, as well you can join us on Sundays. There are sometimes available seats then.

I’ll wrap with BIG THANKS to my venerable and unflagging chocolate partner, DAGOBA. From the first year where, 20 minutes before  my session I was combing the floor, asking people I’d never met before if they’d like me to feature their chocolate, they’ve generously given.

Enjoy tastings and pairings, mixing and matching as you and your taste buds find fun. Props to my crew who helped me taste in advance, helping the winners this year rise to the menu, letting the not-so-hot test pairings quietly disappear.

See you next year ~

Categories: Beer & Food, Education & Training, Events
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