So once in a while, we make a meal that is just out of this world. Beyond expectations, blows it out of the park, completely unexpected.... this was that meal! John and Jenn made me a birthday dinner that was positively insane. Get ready for this...
Chosen ingredients - Cocoa, Mint, Salt... that's right. Seemingly basic, huh? NO! This is a CS blog, not some amateur hour... here we go....
Cocktail - Cocoa Puff Smash
Not exactly our favorite cocktail ever, but it encompassed the ingredients and was completely out of left field! A mint and cocoa puff infused chartreuse mixed with soda water and lemon. And the cocoa puffs completely bringing us back to childhood!
Before I get into each dish, let me post this... it's the website that J&J bought the salts for this dinner. This was no table salt, people!
Appetizer - Mint Salad with Cocoa Crusted Bacon
Ok, let me break this amazingness down. Salad - a simple combination of romaine, thinly sliced cucumbers, chopped mint and a light vinaigrette made of yogurt, mustard, olive oil. This was topped with the Bali Hai salt. (From the island of Bali in the Indian Ocean.) Crisp, refreshing, and the perfect backdrop for what was the most amazing piece of bacon I have ever eaten. This cocoa, brown sugar, chipotle crusted bacon ended up like candy. Seriously - CANDY!
Appetizer Wine - 2013 Muses Estate 9 White
This is our FIRST Greek wine! It was splendid! Very crisp and dry with a heavy taste of mineral, stone, and grass. The lack of fruit or sweetness completely balanced the crazy bacon and mint salad.
Entree - Mint Braised Beef Brosato over Cocoa Tagliatelle
Let me take a moment to wipe the tear from my eye as I slowly remember this amazing dish. Where do I begin? How about the pasta? Jenn made homemade tagliatelle. (Kind of like fettuccine.) And the actual dough has cocoa in it. ZOMG. Not only was it delicious homemade pasta, but it had cocoa! I mean, seriously... who came up with this idea??? Now let's talk beautiful morsels of tender beef. They followed the recipe exactly, braising beef shanks in a beautiful mixture of tomatoes, wine, and mint. The result was phenomenal. Tender and fall apart in your mouth goodness! And what about the salt? A healthy topping of the Trapani sea salt. (From the famous Salt Road in Sicily.)
Entree Wine #1 - 2012 90+ Cellars Nebbiolo d'Alba
What's not to love about this rich Italian blend? It has cherry, flowers, and a light spice with a harmonious finish that doesn't leave a bitter aftertaste. Perfection.
Entree Wine #2 - 2011 7 Deadly Zins
Okay, let's be honest... it's a cool label and a cool name. And its also delicious! Wild berries and slight spice with a mild oaky tannin finish!
Dessert - Mini Chocolate Stout Cheesecakes and Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bites
Okay, so two different cheesecakes bites were made. They are both chocolate stout cheesecakes, but one was topped with a regular mint infused salted caramel sauce and the other with a salted chocolate stout sauce. Both were insane! Totally different flavor profiles that were amazing. The salt used was Aussie Snow salt - from the Pacific waters off Australia. These were amazing.
So there you have it... my birthday dinner that was quite possibly the most inspired one to date!