Chocolates celebrated in four-hands dinner

Sous chef Hylton Le Roux and guest chef Josh Boutwood recently teamed up to create Davao-origin cacao dishes in a Four Hands tasting event at Solaire Resort’s Finestra Italian Steakhouse on Thursday, 6 October.

The seven-course meal called Auro Wine Pairing was inspired by a previous successful event, Auro Dinner, and will be offered this November.

The Daily Tribune conducted an interview with the chefs before the tasting event.

GUEST chef Josh Boutwood.

Daily Tribune (DT): What’s new at Finestra? How did you come up with the concept for these dishes?

Chef Le Roux (CLR): We had an Auro chocolate dinner before that went well. Now it’s Auro dinner 2.0, “four hands.” With Josh as our guest chef, we came up with a menu. He has good skills and experience in restaurants.

Chef Boutwood (CB): We highlighted chocolates as much as possible and matched the aesthetic of this beautiful restaurant (with the food).

DT: What makes each food unique compared to others?

CLR: Cooking with chocolate is uncommon. Josh and I have taken all aspects of the cocoa plant — the husk, cocoa butter, white choco, different percentages of chocolate’s taste. It’s the thought process.

ONE of the chocolate treats served during the tasting event.

CB: The menu is signature to the event itself. Guests will be given a once-in-a-lifetime seven-course meal.

DT: What was your inspiration for Auro Wine Pairing?

CLR: The thought process. What can I do with this fruit? Husk? By-product? For my main course dish I dust cocoa nodes to the meat then I googled it. It’s nice. It’s putting something in and not knowing the results.

CB: From harvesting to grinding, I take inspiration from each process in each recipe.

The Auro Wine Pairing menu included salty oyster, horseradish, cucumber with Condrieu ‘Les Terrasses du Palat’ wine from Rhone Valley, France.

Photographs by Sonny Espiritu for the Daily Tribune
(From left): Auro white chocolate basque cheesecake, baked cocoa cream Auro Regalo 50 percent chocolate creméux and Auro Agravante 70 percent gelato Don Papa honey cake.

Meanwhile, sour, salty, bittersweet and soft chocolate disk ravioli was paired with Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc wine from Rhone Valley, France. A hint of burnt yet creamy and crispy adlai porridge with cacao and dried fish was given a unique pairing with Rioja Gran Reserva wine from Rioja, Spain.

Tasty cocoa butter and miso poachaed seabass with gabi puree was served with Pinot Noir red wine from Santa Maria Valley, California. Next was the crispy, thin, slightly salty, dry-aged duck breast with chocolate syrup that resembled the taste of humba (Negros Oriental’s local pork adobo) and Jerusalem artichoke, slightly creamy puree that was served with red wine from Rhone Vailley, France.

Cocoa butter and miso poached seabass.

The last main entrée was cocoa powder aged short rib (beef) with Cabernet Sauvignon wine from Napa-Oakville, California. The beef was cooked in 28 hours with coco husk dried in four days to catch the perfect smoke. It resulted in a smoky and uniquely tender beef. When dipped in the creamy, sweet and nutty almond puree and purplish black, a bit sweet and sour bugnay berry fluid gel with herb on each side of the beef, the different tastes blend well.

As for the desserts, there were the Auro white chocolate basque cheesecake with creme anglaise sauce and served warm; baked cocoa cream Auro regalo chocolate cremeux that was bittersweet, orange, chocolate with a hint of cinnamon; and soft, sour and bitter auro agravante gelato Don Papa honey cake. These sweet samplers were paired with with Don Papa seven-year-old rum from Negros Occidental, Philippines.

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