We’re big Gü fans in the Stylist office. Those little chocolate soufflés have saved our bacon during many a dinner party disaster (not to self: flipping a Tarte Tatin after a few glasses of wine never works).
So when we were invited to a Gü dinner party hosted by Sasha Wilkins - aka blogger extraordinaire Liberty London Girl - at her flat, it took us about two seconds to decide, yes, we would be able to squeeze a five-course chocolate feast into our diaries.
Like us, Sasha is passionate about food (she’s already showcased her impressive cooking skills and some delicious recipes on her blog), so we were keen to see what was on the menu – just how would chocolate be incorporated into savoury dishes without being sickly? We were also a little curious for a snoop inside her flat!
Ever the charming hostess, Sasha handed us a hand-written menu and Chocolate Coffee Martini as soon as we arrived, which we sipped whilst admiring the stuffed badger on top of her book case.
ABOVE: The stuffed badger, and the 'Pick Your Own Carrots' appetizer
Cooked by Gü’s delightful head chef Fred Ponnavoy (who for nine years, has been the genius behind their incredible desserts) in Sasha’s kitchen, the specially curated, five course menu featured an exclusive preview of recipes from the Gü Cookbook, launching in October, plus a sneak peek at some new Gü desserts that are so top secret, we weren’t even allowed to tweet them.
But here’s what we can share from the evening’s epic menu – first up, the canapés:
- Chocolate Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Poached Lemon
- Pick your Own Carrot
- Pane Carasau with Avocado, Bacon, Rocket with Chocolate and Shallots foam
Whilst we adored the Pane Carasau (a bit like a gourmet pop tart) and found chocolate went surprisingly well with smoked salmon, the ‘Pick Your Own Carrot’ was the hit of the evening. Fun plant pots were passed around filled with a ‘soil’ of wasabi cream, and crumbled chocolate brownie, and then guests were invited to ‘pick’ their own carrot (home grown by a member of the GU team) out of the pot!
Our appetites whetted, and with the smell of melting chocolate wafting through the kitchen, we were then led through to the dining room, where Sasha had laid out the most beautiful display of fresh flowers bought at Covent Garden flower market that morning (she got up at 4:30am to get the best of the bunch – true dedication!). We then sat down to this five course meal (with two dessert courses!!), with a different wine served for each dish.
- Duck Egg with Maple Syrup and Raz el Hanout served with Chocolate Brioche Soldiers
- Chocolate Venison Open Ravioli with herb cress
- Chicken in a Cocoa Crust with Vanilla Mash and Chocolate Gravy
- Our top secret Gu dessert!
- Meringue with lemon and white chocolate cream, candied citrus and lemon granita
Here are some pictures (please note, my phone camera DOES NOT do the food justice)
Every dish was delicious, but my favourite was the Chicken baked in a Cocoa Crust (very impressive when Fred brought it out of the oven), the unbelievably creamy, decadent vanilla mash and chocolate gravy. It showed how chocolate could be used in savoury dishes without being too overpowering.
And the final dessert really impressed. Resembling a glowing snowball when presented on the plate, one crack into the delicate but chewy meringue and we were rewarded with rich, white chocolate cream with fresh citrus flavours – the perfect palette cleansers. Even more impressive is that normally I hate lemon desserts, meringue, and cream – so complements to Fred for converting me!
ABOVE: My place at dinner, and a cocoa plant - you can eat the flesh inside and it tastes like a Mango!
Feeling a food coma coming on, we headed home several hours later with Sasha’s beautiful floral table decorations as a parting gift, and a Gü goodie bag. Thanks to Sasha and Gü for an excellent evening – and stay tuned for news of the new Gü desserts!
Words: Lauren Smith