“Like love, chocolate is an eternal source of inspiration, rich with the noblest of emotions.” Eugène Weiss
Oh la la French chocolate smells amazing and tastes even better, so good in fact that I managed to consume practically my own body weight in less than a couple of hours. From the rich and intense dark flavours of Li Chu from Vietnam to the sweet creamy caramel milk variety and everything in between as well as a range of delightful infused truffles, it was too hard to choose the best so why not try them ALL was my motto.
Part of the final Masters of Food and Wine event of 2016, the chocolate experience will be held at the stunning beachside Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas located on Saadiyat Island for six days from 25th October. I was privileged to attend last week’s media preview that gave an insight into the wonderful and delicious world of chocolate by French chocolatier Weiss. The event got off to the best start with chocolate martinis and champagne cocktails at the hotel’s stunning Arabian inspired residential-style, multifunctional event facility The Residence.
Once gathered in the kitchen and dining area of the facility, proceedings began with an informative and interactive talk by Nael Berry from Weiss who educated us about the growing, harvesting and production of chocolate around the globe, followed by the important tasting of all kinds of luscious chocolate. We learnt how cocoa trees grow in hot and rainy Equatorial areas and how cocoa beans grow in rigid oval shaped cocoa pods that when opened quite frankly look like something from an Alien movie. The harvested beans are sweated as part of fermentation process, the sweaty thick pulp liquefies and trickles away leaving behind cocoa beans that are then dried in the sun where the flavour continues to develop before exportation in large jute sacks to the rest of the world.
Referred to as ‘black gold’ the beans are sieved at the factory to remove foreign objects (even flip flops ?!?) and then cracked and de-shelled by a “winnower” producing cacao nibs, the bitter crushed and broken pieces that is the healthiest form of chocolate, used widely in cooking and in smoothies etc. The cacao nibs are then crushed and ground into a thick paste called chocolate liquor, at this stage it’s still bitter and not at all smooth and creamy like the chocolate we know and love, so it’s sweetened with additions such as sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract and milk.
With all the factual bits covered we were presented with a special chocolate inspired sweet and savoury menu created by the talented Executive Chef Guillaume Joly and his culinary team. All the dishes used different varieties of Weiss chocolate, first up was Seared Foie Gras with Port Wine Figs, Port Wine Reduction and Weiss 70% dark Acuariga chocolate, Roasted Duck Magret with sweet corn polenta and spicy mole chocolate sauce, Chocolate & Truffle Weiss 58% Oricao Chocolate Ganache with Fleur de Sel and Black Truffle Essence and Passion Chocolat combining Weiss 64% Li Chu chocolate mousse, crispy sesame, bourbon vanilla chantilly with passion fruit slice and coulis.
To conclude the event there was a final special treat as two of the chefs whipped up a couple of amazing chocolate creations before our very eyes, there was an air of excitement as we gathered around for the sweet finale masterclass. We were taught how to make a warm chocolate fondant and a dark chocolate mousse, a pleasure to watch but even more pleasurable to consume the finished desserts.
So what is Weiss chocolate and where has it been hiding all my life? The story began in Saint-Etienne back in 1882 when Eugene Weiss, founder and chocolate pioneer discovered the art of praline and blending cocoa beans. He opened his first shop creating his premium chocolate under the brand Weiss, La Maison Weiss produces high quality chocolates to this day combining tradition and attention to detail with oodles of French elegance.
As you have probably gathered I’m a fan of all things chocolate whether it’s dark and bitter or milky sweet, I was blown away by the quality and flavours of all the Weiss chocolate I devoured. With so many chocolates and truffles on offer it was hard to pick an outright favourite, while some people in our group preferred the healthy higher cacao content varieties, others liked the more middle of the road 50 – 70% and some liked the milk and white versions, I liked them all! As one of the oldest chocolate companies in the world Weiss still controls its whole production process from the picking of the beans to the production of the high quality finished product, ensuring thoroughness and complete customer satisfaction.
Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine is a series of sophisticated culinary and beverage experiences hosted at all Park Hyatt locations across the world. The interactive events give guests, residents and visiting gourmands the opportunity to connect and share their produce, expertise and knowledge. If you like me are a fan of all things chocolate the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Master of Food and Wine series is a must-do, designed to educate and showcase the hotel as the Food and Beverage hub of the Capital, the series provides a unique way to dive into the culinary world’s best-kept secrets, did I mention there will also be lots of chocolate!
Guests can indulge in the chocolate inspired set menu from 25th – 30th October at the sophisticated Park Bar and Grill located on the lower ground floor of the hotel. Starting at 7pm every evening diners will sample the specially created sweet and savoury menu, each dish featuring Weiss chocolate.
Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine – Weiss Chocolate Event
Location: Park Bar and Grill, Park Hyatt
Date: 25th – 30th October from 7:00pm
Cost*: Set menu AED 250 per person including with a special takeaway gift
* excludes 10% service charge, 6% tourism fee and 4% municipality fee
Visit the Weiss Chocolate website here
I was invited to this event. All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved. Additional photos used courtesy of www.abudhabi.park.hyatt.com
Read more about Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas in previous posts Park Hyatt Pampering, Talking Turtles and Conservation with Arabella Willing and My Top Five Places for Sunset Drinks in Abu Dhabi