Chocolate Week Tasting Menu at Frog by Adam Handling with Paul A Young
by Federica Carr - Tuesday October 16, 2018 10:10 am
We attended a sneak preview of the 5 course menu, which will be available during the week of October 15-21 for £70 (with specially selected matching wines for an extra £70).
Hosted in the elegant, private dining room in the basement of the restaurant, the dinner was a rollercoaster of flavours and thought provoking pairings, expertly introduced by both the chef and Paul.
They told us how they had worked together to either revisit some of Adam's signature dishes or create new ones in which regular (and sometimes unusual) ingredients are being matched to unique chocolates from around the world.
We started with 'Mother', a delicate dish made with baked celeriac, fresh apple, yolk and a ton of freshly shaved truffle. While this dish is usually part of the Frog's regular offering, for the themed occasion Adam and Paul had chosen a 72% Honduras Indio Rojo Dark chocolate by Duffy's, which, finely shaved over the dish, matched the earthiness of the truffle in a spectacular way.
A rich, intense bowl of Brandade tortellini with pickled leek and cod's liver followed; on this dish, Adam has cleverly frozen the liver with the chocolate. A deep, slightly smoky and low acidity 76% Vanuatu Islands Cacao Dark Chocolate was a great choice: it has an almost savoury, meaty flavour and high cocoa butter content which means it can be frozen well.
We asked Paul about the chocolate produced in Vanuatu and neighbouring countries (Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea) and how the locals dry the beans differently from most other places (with fires, due to the wet climate) which by some is not considered a proper method.
The Hake, crab and tomato main was a wonderful, rich option; the white, fleshy fish was poached in a white chocolate emulsion blended with a salty crab bisque.
The chocolate (Guittard Chocolate Soie Blanche 35%) was almost undetectable if not for a background sweet note to the overall taste. Discussing the dish, Paul told us that white chocolate is chocolate as long as the only fat contained in it is cocoa butter.
We found the Pigeon, blackberries and acidulated chocolate (the second main) the strongest dish: strong in flavours, strong visually, and with a strong, intense chocolatey sauce. Dark, autumnal colours on a stark white plate, it seemed an appropriate statement dish for the chocolate week menu.
The chocolate used here is a Valrhona 64% Madagascan Dark Chocolate, with acidity, fruity notes, almost sticky; Adam used it to create a sauce with soya and vinegar, to provide a umami rich condiment which matched the gamey meat really well.
The first dessert on the menu was possibly our favourite dish of the night: a Tarragon, passion fruit and chocolate item, something between a mousse and an ice-cream, maybe not as attractive as other dishes but packed full of incredible flavours and textures.
The chocolate used here, an unusually untempered Duffy's 65% Dominican Republic Dark Chocolate had a different consistency than tempered chocolate, which means it takes longer to release its flavour; the tarragon really picked up on its botanical notes. A heavenly dessert.
Finally, a slightly crazy sounding pudding: Chocolate, Coconut, Pea. Actual fresh, bright green English peas, laid on a mound of edible chocolate soil and topped with a coconut sorbet, this was a beautiful thing, visually stunning too.
The chocolate chosen was a very gently sweet Guittard 65% Madagascan Dark Chocolate; it did not overpower the freshness of the peas and the creaminess of the coconut sorbet and it had a soft, slow release and a balanced taste.
We really enjoyed our dinner and welcomed the opportunity to hear directly from Adam and Paul about each dish’ identity and planning; they have definitely created a successful, interesting and mouth-watering marriage between the chocolates and the regular dishes.
The Chocolate Week Tasting Menu at Frog by AH is a winner. Don't miss out on it!