Dinner with Michael Recchiuti

Okhotnichya VodkaYes, Mike and I just hung out for the evening, exchanging witty observations about the trade. Tucked in a mellowly lit booth at the Heathman Hotel’s Tea Court, we sipped a vodka martini made with Okhotnichya — an old Soviet-era “hunter’s vodka” — that Mike had crafted himself from the mucilage of cacao pods and various findings at the Portland Farmer Market earlier that day ,and gifted to the bar keep in a beaker hand cut from a thrift store vase. Philippe Boulot, Executive Chef of the Heathman, Chocolate Gourmandiseplopped down in the booth beside us from time to time, soliciting our opinions of various amuses gueules involving foie gras, chocolate, fleur de sel de l’Ile de Noirmoutier, and grape must. We were later graced by the presence of Boulot’s lovely and talented pastry chef wife Susan Boulot, bearing miniature plates of her legendary Chocolate Gourmandise produced from the aquatic criollo beans she harvested on a scuba expedition Flowers of Theobroma cacaoto the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan beneath the azure waves of lake Texcoco. The bouquet of flowers plucked by Florist/Sommelier/Wife Jennifer Turner Bitterman from our own, private, greenhouse-coddled cacao tree filled the room with its intoxicating aroma, attracting various non-native lepidopterous insects that glowed and chattered about our heads.

Actually, none of this happened.

Michael Recchiuti
We did venture to the much anticipated Chocolate Dinner with Michael Recchiuti at Portland’s Heathman Hotel last night, a seven course banquet hall-style meal that started with a cocktail party attended by EVERYONE in Portland with a hand in chocolate. Michael Recchiuti, demigod chocolatier of Recchiuti Confections (maybe without the “demi”), regaled about sixty people with a seven course symphony in chocolate inspired from his chocolate book.

Fortunately, Recchiuti’s chocolate dinner was attended by a gaggle of brilliant food writers, and they will surely offer a more eloquent, measured, and sober review of the event than I can. The Heathman bar manager, Dustin Dickson, offered up a basil-infused Sambirano chocolate martini (or some such Madagascar chocolate, I can’t recollect exactly, but presumably the lime-zesty Valrhona Ampamakia 64% bittersweet chocolate, or the E. Guittard Ambanja 65% bittersweet chocolate), and the tablets of Valrhona, Guittard, and Recchiuti chocolate were nice to snack on before settling into the seven course chocolate dinner ($78) paired with wine ($110). No point in moderation.

Chef Philippe Boulot’s multi-course dinner was inspired by recipes from Michael Recchiuti’s opulent book, Chocolate Obsession. Chocolate Dinner Menu:

  • Foie gras and wild mushroom cappuccino
  • Tuna au poivre with cocoa nib crust
  • Tarragon ruby grapefruit granita
  • Duck Mole
  • Burnt caramel pot de crème with milk chocolate
  • Sampler of Recchiuti Confections and pulled sugar
  • Petit fours of chocolate

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