Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rum and Chocolate

Another rain-soaked day in London, so I'm drawn back to the wonderful time I had - a couple of weeks ago - at the sun-influenced event that was The Rum Experience. First-off, I have to confess that I'm no rum aficionado (although I know a whole lot more now than I did before I attended the fiesta). The real draw for me (and I was certainly proven right) was cocoa plantation owner, Duane Dove, who conducted a truly memorable tasting seminar on rum and chocolate pairing.

We, lucky attendees, had the deliciously educational opportunity to learn about the finer details involved in the process of chocolate production at the Swedish-trained sommelier's plantation, based on Tobago. Attention to detail and quality is paramount, with all harvesting carried-out by hand, to ensure no machinery taint or damage is incurred.

The first rum we tasted (after sniffing out the finer notes of its nose) was the 8-year-old Angostura 1919 from Trinidad. Vanilla notes dominated the nose; the taste was rich and mellow. Accompanied with a square of spicy, smoky Trinidad Pralus chocolate, it was the perfect match. Next, we sampled a 23-year-old Guatemalan rum from Ron Zacapa, a more expensive, sweeter example, paired with Michel Cluizel's fabulous single estate chocolate square, Los Ancones, from Haiti. Then onto the third rum of the day, 8-year-old Trois Rivieres from Martinique; higher in alcohol, this had a more sophisticated taste - comparable with grappa or brandy - perfect as a post-prandial digestif and stunningly paired with Valrhona's Madagascan, orange-peel suffused, Manjari - an amazingly effective duo! The ultimate rum was 10-year-old Guyanese XM Royal; richly flavorsome with fig and marmalade notes, optimally matched with Tuscan Amedei's super-smooth Chuao.

Duane recently introduced his exquisite Cane Tulip glasses in conjunction with Giarimi Design, to enhance the taste and enjoyment experience for rum lovers. His first commercially marketed chocolate will be launched, in collaboration with a renowned French artisan producer, in September 2009.

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