I cannot honestly say that the package arrived unexpectedly, but its content was unknown until I opened the box and removed the packing material to reveal a beautiful long bar of chocolate 64% cacao content, made by SOMA using cacao beans from Peru (as an aside, the cacao nibs I featured in my most recent post were also from Peruvian beans). I don't know whether Jerry of Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants! read something on my blog that suggested the gift or simply divined it: I was certainly happy to get a food that is an integral part of my daily diet (in moderation, of course).
In the package I also found a glass jar with an elegant label describing an intriguing content: Bacon Marmalade, whose ingredients include, besides bacon, sautéed onions (cipolle), balsamic vinegar from Modena (aceto balsamico di Modena) and spices. In the note accompanying the gifts, Jerry tells me that the marmalade is fabulous as an accompaniment to cheese. If you are curious to hear me describe how the pairing with some of my cheese works, I need to ask you to be patient, since I have decided to postpone opening the jar until a dinner with a friend of ours with whom I would like to share the experience. So, more on this at a later date.
Back to the chocolate, serendipity worked to suggest a pairing with pistachios. A few days before the chocolate arrived, we had received as a gift a bag of pistachios roasted (tostati) and lightly salted (salati). Having previously tasted and appreciated the pairing of chocolate and pistachios, and of chocolate and salt, I thought that putting together chocolate, pistachios and a bit of salt would be an interesting test. I recently made delicious chocolate-covered pecans, so it was easy to apply to pistachios the same technique. Preparation of the nuts involved only shelling and rubbing off the skin. Preparation of the chocolate consisted in finely chopping 3 ounces or so and then melting it according to the directions in this post. (In case you are wondering, a few pieces of chocolate found their way to my mouth while I was chopping it, as a sweet reward for my labor. All right, all right, chopping chocolate probably does not count as "labor.")
I used a teaspoon to make small clusters and deposit them on a tray lined with wax paper (carta oleata). Once the chocolate was completely set, we tasted the clusters and were delighted by the combination of crunch, sweetness and light saltiness of the ensemble.
The special delivery was not unexpected, because last month I signed up to participate to Season's Eatings, an edible gift exchange event engineered by Katie of Thyme for Cooking, the Blog. Many thanks to Jerry for the thoughtful gifts and to Katie for organizing the fun event.
Katie will have a roundup of the exchange some time after Christmas.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the pistacchi ricoperti di cioccolato audio file [mp3].
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