We started with a classic, homemade graham cracker with a melted chocolate to dip in. Sitting in front of us were 4 glasses for 4 vermouths. Three of them are “deconstructed” versions of the final glass which is the Sutton Cellars finished vermouth. The final concoction contains 17 ingredients. Four “major” ingredients including orange, chamomile and rosemary and the rest is a big fat secret! Those three could not be secret ingredients. And each stood on it’s own as a great drink that were paired with 3 chocolates containing the same ingredients. The first, Madagascar chocolate with candied orange peel. The second, caramel with chamomile on milk chocolate. The third, 64% Valrhona (custom blended for Recchiuti) with salt and rosemary. And not surprisingly, the finished vermouth went well with all 3 chocolates.
The next adventure was lavender ice cream with a Pinot Noir. Not a pairing I’d probably do…and not necessarily even a pairing per se. The wine was very tart and the ice cream very rich and creamy so in that sense they contrasted well. The ice cream, even though the lavender was as subtle as lavender can be, was still very lavender-y. The pinot was acidic and earthy and quite lovely.
Michael announced that the next dessert out was a macaroon. I can’t say I’ve ever had a macaroon I liked…I couldn’t before now at least. Usually they are coconut or amaretto, very poofy and don’t have much flavor in the cookie part. In Michael’s macaroon, he replaced most of the almond flour normally used in the cookie with cocoa nibs. 50% sugar, 50% cocoa nibs made into a meringue, cooked at a high temp and filled with a ganache made with Sutton Cellar’s Syrah (with which the cookies were paired). Syrah is not my favorite red. This was a good one but with the cookie was harsh and tight and had a little to much leather and gaminess happening.
We took the obligatory and awesome tour of the kitchens. I love seeing where the magic happens. I also love that we get to try chocolate right off the belt. God that’s good. And with it we had a little vermouth spritzer drink with a twist of grapefruit. Perfect hot summer day refresher…with a kick!
Michael busted out something to share that I feel very privileged to have tried. It was an Ecuadorian chocolate that is made from wild-growing cocoa at about 3000′ elevation. The only way to get in is by donkey. Michael got about a pound of this stuff and generously shared it with us. Wow…how many chances do you get to try something like that? These sorts of things are why I support Recchiuti, not just because the chocolate is the best around!
My notes, as happens a lot, get a little blurry at the end of the day. We got to try the mother of Sutton’s Solera. It goes into the final bottling which right now is a blend of 1999-2006 vintages. The solera was great. Memory of it is fuzzy, but it was good!
We came home with vermouth, pinot and solera. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the vermouth as an after dinner treat. I don’t like whiskey and port is usually too sweet for me (except for on special occasions) but the vermouth is a wonderful evening sipper.
Two things were said that sum up both Sutton and Recchiuti. They are both breaking traditions and expanding horizons but most importantly, having fun with their creations. You can taste the love.