Nuts & Chocolate

Two of my favourite nibbles – nuts & chocolate.  Nuts I will go for anytime either savoury or sweet.  Blitzed into pestos, toasted and sprinkled over salads, chopped and baked into florentines, they work well salted, sugared, smoked or oiled.  Anything goes with a nut.
Chocolate, in my opinion does not work in a savoury dish. Perhaps I shouldn’t knock it until I’ve truly tried it and having half-heartedly flung a square of it into a chilli con carne does not make my opinion a considered one, however it is my opinion.  And in my opinion, it is wrong, wrong, wrong and a crime against chocolate to write her into the savoury side of a menu.  Chocolate is for sweet stuff, it’s for desserts, it’s for comforting warm milky drinks.
Willie's Cacao
One man, I imagine, would strongly disagree with me.  Willie Harcourt-Cooze, The Chocolate Man. I’ve vaguely heard of a Channel 4 documentary called ‘Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory’ which looks at his journey to farm his own cacao in South America and then import it to the U.K. to produce chocolate. I came across his cacao last weekend in Schull Farmer’s Market at the Gubbeen Stall.  They were selling these solid cylinders of 100% cacao and I was told that the guy who makes it grew up on Calf Island, only a matter of miles away, though other sources say that Willie Harcourt-Cooze grew up on Horse island  (yes, these are real islands), whichever island it was, what interests me is the fact that he spent some part of his formative years on an island in West Cork.
Moving on from the Gubbeen stand to a newer entry on the West Cork markets scene I met again with the operators of Gnosh whom I had encountered at Goleen Festival a few weeks back.  The name is genius and they’ve chosen this attractive purple background colour to identify their stall.
gnosh sign
They’ve got a small line of products going well for them so far.  Stacks of cupcakes sit alongside tubs of salads and savoury bites including these caramelised walnuts.
gnosh walnutsYou have to admire a start-up company brave enough to get out there and put in the hard work that it takes to establish a presence on the food circuit today.
I’ve yet to try out my 100% cacoa and looking at these two pictures together I can’t help but wonder what sort of partnership Willie’s cacoa would make with Gnosh’s caramelised walnuts because nuts and chocolate, now that works.
Til next time, Sheila.

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