Here at Dandelion Chocolate, we LOVE food. The chocolate-y items, of course, but it doesn’t stop there. Talking about flavor and taste is an everyday occurrence around here. It’s also a big part of our jobs. As the Event Manager, one of the things that I get to do is organize and enjoy all of our pairing events, which means tasting a lot of delicious things, with a lot of nice people.
I often think of pairings in the following way: individually, chocolate and another food item may each taste amazing, but when you pair them together, they could taste like pond water, soap, or an unidentified yuck. That’s what I consider a bad pairing. No offense to pond water. But, if you taste two yummy things alone and when they’re combined, they create a whole new taste sensation that calls to mind something that neither product was able to reveal on it’s own, that’s a great pairing. And sometimes a great pairing is also an opportunity to get to know your fellow tasters a little bit better.
One of the things that I love most about these types of events is hearing what other people taste when we pair different things together. Barbecue potato chips? Margarita pizza? A rocky stream bed? Birthday cake? Chocolate croissants? Orange blossom water? What?! I mean yum! It is exciting when a particular pairing really invokes a specific emotional response for someone, like memories from childhood or travel. Usually these taste sensations are really, really specific and include time, place and people. Like the milk left over from that cereal with colored marshmallows. Or a bowl of summer berries with not-too-sweet homemade whipped cream. Or that time that you burned the chocolate chip cookies just a little bit, but ate them all anyways. It is amazing that so many nuances can often be discovered with such simple ingredients, like sugar and cocoa beans.
For me, it’s a treat to really get to savor a pairing combination. To spend the meditative time, projecting my laser-focused attention on the textures of a floral tea, or the peachy melon sweetness of an unpasteurized sake. To just think about the notes that I taste. That’s it. The slightly malty, slightly bitter quality of melting dark chocolate. The breezy berry notes and pinging acidity of an African coffee.The toothsome hamminess of a great gouda. It also helps that there are no wrong answers or very many rules. Everyone tastes differently and will prefer one pairing over the other. Sometimes, I even play Devil’s Advocate and try to match the two most outlandish items together — just for fun!
Hosting, planning, and participating in these chocolate pairing events has made me change my mind about what my favorite and not-so favorite Dandelion chocolate bars are – welcome back to #1, Madagascar! I the love the challenge of trying to find a good match for a strong Pu’er tea, or a bold blue cheese. If you think that you know all the nuances of your favorite Dandelion Chocolate bar, that there is nothing new left to discover, I invite you to pair it with a great quality cheese, sake, coffee or tea. See where it takes you. Hopefully to a newfound sense of excitement and curiosity about food and flavor.
Check our website here for the listing of our upcoming pairing classes in May and June.