One of the favorite high class/low brow things we love to do around our house is to finish the last glass of red wine from dinner with a few dark chocolate M&M's for dessert. Hey, it's cheap and that's two fewer plates to clean up.
It turns out that science is on our side and Pastry Chef Andy Manchester from the Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel has ratcheted up our ritual a few notches. Scientists have proved that chocolate provides the body natural health-promoting substances called flavonoids, which are known to help prevent heart disease and cancer. Red wine contains anti-oxidants, which keep your arteries clear of plaque therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.
Here's a sample menu:
Blackberry Truffle Valrhona chocolate
Pur Caraibe is a 66 percent bitter chocolate made from pure Trinitario beans from the Caribbean (Trinidad). This dark brown Grand Cru couverture has notes of dried fruit and tobacco.
Jeb Steele's Shooting Star, "Black Bubbles," Sparkling Syrah, Lake County
This is a late-harvest syrah sparkling wine made in the Méthode Champenoise process. Medium bodied, it has hints of blackberry and chocolate.
Star Anise Ganache Brownie Valrhona chocolate -- 61 percent, general purpose chocolate, with elegant chocolate flavor and a slightly bitter taste, but full and powerful
d'Arenburg Love Grass, Shiraz, Australia 2007
A 100 percent Shiraz with great balance and strong tannins with higher alcohol content; jammy characteristics of bing cherries, dates and chocolate.
Cacao Berry Espresso Caramel Tart
The 70 percent Cacao Barry Saint-Domingue, a blend of Forastero and Criollo, combines an exceptionally long finish and produces a dark chocolate with a very pronounced cocoa flavor.
Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza Argentina 2007
This medium-bodied wine with moderate tannins from aged oak barrels has characteristics of black cherries, prunes and chocolate.
At $21.50 per person, this menu means my bag of M&M's may stay in the freezer for awhile.
In other Hermitage news, Executive Chef Tyler Brown has been extended a great honor. On March 28, Brown will travel to New York City to cook at the annual Sunday Supper to benefit the James Beard Foundation and the Chelsea Market Scholarship for residents of the Robert Fulton Houses.
The event promises to be a lavish, family-style dinner where more than 240 guests will be seated at long tables to enjoy a communal meal served by more than 24 chefs from around the United States. He will join a strong contingent of chefs from New York City, as well as several Southern chefs chosen to participate, including Atlanta chefs Anne Quatrano, Hugh Acheson, Shaun Doty, Todd Richards and Hector Santiago.
If you're interested in cheering Chef Brown on, the event costs $180 per person for James Beard Foundation members and $220 per person for the general public. For reservations or ticket information, call (212) 627-2308 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chelsea Market is located at 75 Ninth Ave., between 15th and 16th streets in Manhattan. View the event website at http://jamesbeard.org/chelseamarket
Congratulations and best of luck to Chef Brown!