Chocolate evening at Sartoria
& Willie’s Cacao Chocolate
20 Savile Row
Tel: 020 7534 7000
I believe that most people love chocolate, we reward ourselves with bars of it, we pass them round boxes of them at dinner parties and come Christmas there are coins made of it. But after my experiences at Sartoria during Chocolate Week I now firmly believe most people are under using chocolate.
I was invited to an intimate dinner held in the bar of Sartoria, the theme: chocolate. All the courses were to be prepared with chocolate. And as a bonus we were to have Head Chef Luke Pfaff and Willie Harcourt-Cooze the proprietor of Willie’s Cacoa talking us through each course.
The food started with toasted bread with buffalo ricotta spread over and sprinkled with chocolate. This was just a warm up really and didn’t have a massive chocolate hit though it was a good appetizer. This was swiftly followed by some wonderful scallops with a chocolate crust and sweet chilli pepper, it had a perfect balance, chilli and chocolate are a sure fire winner together.
London’s chocolate week has events all over town, I had to turn down a few invites sadly but I did manage to attend the Salon du Chocolat at Olympia, London, fashion and chocolate on the same menu! The evening was great fun with a catwalk of chocolate inspired outfits and some truly exceptional chocolates on offer.
Luke and Willie talked passionately about the food we had been eating and the complexities of the cacao bean. I had little knowledge of this magic bean, for example it only grows 20 degrees either side of the equator. Each bean is like a grape, it’s taste and qualities are dependant on soil, sun, climate conditions etc. Willie has a passion that has been fervent for 20 years. After travelling to Venezuela he ended up growing cacao and then it was a natural step to producing his own high quality chocolate. Willie is a perfectionist and this shows in his products from 100% range used by chefs to the delectable single estate eating chocolates like Madagascan and Venezuelan Gold. These are premium bars that have 70% chocolate some cocoa butter and cane sugar, that’s all.
Next up was a first for me, sea urchin risotto with a milder water based ganache. This had a statesman like taste, upright, solid and not overly fishy with a beautiful finish of the ganache. This is a dish that deserves to be on the menu as a starter at Sartoria permanently, it’s that good. The aubergine cake with Madagascan and Indonesian chocolate was rich and chewy and came with a light mousse. I liked it very much it could give a Florentine a run for its money.
Luke had displayed a natural affinity with the evening’s key ingredient. He loved cooking with it. I’m sure we will be seeing more and more chocolate in the restaurant scene.
We were almost at the end of our chocolate odyssean adventure, a dark chocolate sorbet with new season olive oil, sea salt and a sweet ciabatta. This was really rich and smooth and salty, not for the faint-hearted. The evening was finally finished off with infused truffles. The lemon and rosemary and the chilli were my favourites.
This meal was an education, I had learned more about chocolate than I thought possible, tasted some spectacular food and listened to two people passionate about their respective fields. The logo of Sartoria is a suit button, a nod to the surrounding neighbours of Savile Row, if you call in for a chocolate inspired dish you will undoubtedly receive something considerably better quality than your average chocolate button.