Tomorrow may be Valentine’s Day and the day sales of chocolate and champagne rise and yet for us singletons, I’ve renamed the day ‘Galentine’s Day’ and will be celebrating with my girlfriends in celebration of female friendships; and yes we’ll probably be consuming lots of chocolate and champagne too!
Our menu will be inspired by a recent Galvin Brasserie de Luxe’s Valrhona Chocolate and Champagne Tasting masterclasses that I was lucky enough to be invited to a couple of weeks ago. And whilst I won’t be able to rustle up desserts with quite the same skill that Head Chef Jamie Knox did, the sentiment will be there.
The Galvin Brasserie de Luxe’s masterclasses occur monthly and are fun, informal affairs, perfect for any foodies, whether in couples or groups of girls or just on your own.
Sommelier Damien Trinckquel chose three fabulous Champagnes paired with three chocolate desserts, excellently prepared for us to taste by Head Chef Jamie and his team.
The chocolate used to prepare the desserts was Valrhona chocolate, a French premium chocolate manufacturer based in the small town of Tain-l’Hermitage in Hermitage, a wine-growing district near Lyon. Valrhona focuses mainly on high-grade luxury chocolate marketed for commercial use by chefs as well as for private consumption and all the Galvin Brasserie restaurants only use this chocolate product when preparing their dishes.
Our evening started with not only my favourite Champagne, a Perrier Jouet Blancs de Blancs, but also what turned out to be my favourite dessert, a Valrhona white chocolate mousse with poached rhubarb, rhubarb meringue kisses and rhubarb syrup.
This elegant, dry Champagne made solely from the Chardonnay grape, was an elegant accompaniment to the prettiest of desserts that any girl would appreciate with its pink hues. The rhubarb had been cooked to perfection, using a sous-vide, which not only maintains its colour but also its bite and paired with the delicate bite-size rhubarb meringue kisses, married well with the sweetness of the silky, white chocolate mousse.
The next dessert, a Valrhona Caramelia chocolate mousse, with spiced poached pear, topped with salted popcorn, was made with a Valrhona Caramelia chocolate that reminded me of the chocolate bar, Caramac that I loved as a child.
With gentle caramel and salted butter notes, this caramel milk chocolate is made from deeply caramelised milk and butter blended with cocoa and cocoa butter, which gives it a rich and unctous mouthfeel and contains a minimum of 36% cocoa.
There was a noticeable silence in the room and resonating appreciative ‘ums’ as we tucked into this dessert.
Sommelier Damien had paired this with Galvin’s house Champagne made with the fruity Pinot Meunier (65%), Chardonnay (20%), and Pinot Noir (15%). This elegantly styled Champagne with citrus scented aromas leading to a fine mousse, ripe white fruit flavours and a fresh long, dry finish, complemented the sweetness of this dessert just perfectly and cut through its richness.
The final dessert of the evening was a dark chocolate panna cotta with warm poached cherries. Made using Valrhona dark chocolate with 70% cocoa, this was the richest of all the desserts and proved too rich for most to finish, although I didn’t have any problem clearing my plate!
This dessert required a Champagne with a certain sharpness to cut through the richness and the Perrier Jouet Blasson Rose Champagne was just perfect.
A most exquisitely packaged Champagne it oozes ‘girliness’, with its rose pink hues, shot with glints of pale orange. With equal quantities of Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this intense and balanced Champagne worked well with this dessert, and whilst I finished my plate, I would have loved more texture (or more cherries) to cut through the volume of the panna cotta.
The evening finished with us sampling bowls of each of the different Valrhona chocolate used, topped up with some more Champagne.
An informative yet informal evening, you will always leave the Galvin Brasserie De Luxe masterclasses with a little more knowledge than when you went in, have made new friends and acquaintances and generally had a great evening and value for money.
The Galvin Brasserie De Luxe masterclasses occur monthly. The next masterclass coming up on the 28th February is ‘Wine Tasting in the Dark’ in honour of WWF Earth Hour. A blind wine tasting with Sommelier Damien Trinckquel at £19.50, it’s an absolute steal.
However you are celebrating Valentine’s tomorrow, may it be filled with chocolate, Champagne and love.
Galvin Brasserie De Luxe
Tel : 0131 222 8988