Food and Leisure

A 'teachable moment' with cognac and chocolates

THE X-PAT FILES - Scott Garceau - The Philippine Star
A 'teachable moment' with cognac and chocolates
The home kit included Malagos Chocolates (65%, 72% and 85%), a tulip glass and single-serve bottles of Rémy Martin VSOP, Club and XO Cognac Fine Champagne.

We are always up for a little education, even on a Saturday night. That’s why the Globe Platinum Cognac and Chocolates Pairing Night was such an easy sell. Taking a guided journey through the joys of pairing special Cognac Fine Champagne from the House of Rémy Martin and Malagos chocolates is definitely a homework assignment we could get behind.

What made the event even more special was that, in the name of each Zoom attendee, World Vision pledged to provide a special learning kit to the children of Baseco Compound, Manila, filled with school supplies and homeschool learning modules approved by the Philippine Department of Education. (Over 100 kits were donated from the night’s event.)

Globe Platinum is about offering its customers elevated experiences, but also some elevating ones, so they partnered with World Vision to help provide nifty backpacks, each containing learning modules for five subjects, five notebooks, black pens and pencils, pad paper, a calculator and a ruler. The current #ForFutureHeroes project has given out over 1,000 school kits to underprivileged kids in Tondo’s Baseco Compound, and Globe Platinum has made it easy for customers to order more kits online using their Globe card. (Visit https://www.worldvision.org.ph/for-future-heroes/ to make it happen.)

That is definitely a win-win, however you look at it. Zoom attendees were provided with small samples of Rémy Martin VSOP, Club and XO Cognac Fine Champagne at home, plus a selection of Malagos dark chocolates.

Rémy Martin brand advocate Kevin Charuel led us through a delicious Zoom pairing session.

The “teachable moment” came as we learned how cognac pairs beautifully with dark chocolate. French spirits connoisseur and Rémy Martin brand advocate Kevin Charuel took us through the refining process for this excelsior of all brandies only in the Cognac region of France.

Of course, we touched on aromas, the taste and body of each cognac — how, since 1724, each expression has been made up of hundreds of different cognacs, aged in oak barrels from the Limousin Forest in the southwest of France, from grapes and terroir unique to the AOC-controlled growing region of Cognac — and how cognac makes up only one percent of the world’s spirits by volume, a rare taste indeed.

Then we went further, with Charuel explaining how they chose Malagos Chocolates for this taste pairing: the award-winning, artisanal, tree-to-bar, single-origin confections are made from cacao beans grown and processed locally in Puentespina Farms in Davao City, which was given a high standard rating by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund for producing heirloom quality and fine flavor cacao beans since 2012.

If it sounds special, it tastes even more so.

After a few sniffs from our tulip glasses (those narrow-nose snifters that allow your schnoz to better imbibe aromas such as vanilla, ripe apricots, summer fruits and licorice), we tasted each cognac, moving up the ladder of complexity from the VSOP (up to 250 blended cognacs aged from four to 14 years), through the Club (warmer and spicier, blended from 300 cognacs aged six to 25 years), which Charuel personally recommended serving “frozen” (at -18°C), up through the XO, the signature blend of young cellar master Baptiste Loiseau (350 cognacs, aged between 10 and 37 years). XO offers “a world of aromas and flavor notes,” including saffron, walnut, plum, roasted cocoa beans, fresh hazelnuts, candied orange, cinnamon, mature fig, jasmine, iris, honey and ginger.

Globe Platinum partnered with World Vision, sending homeschool kits to kids at Baseco Compound in Port Area, Manila.

After that initial enjoyable taste, we cleansed our palates with water and prepared to pair it with dark chocolates. Dark chocolates are known for bitterness, “but this is not a bad thing,” Charuel noted. “It actually makes dark chocolate more versatile in terms of pairing with other flavors. It goes very well with red wine, and of course, Rémy Martin cognac.”

The general rule is, the older the cognac, the darker the chocolate. So we progressed through the VSOP paired with Malagos 65% dark chocolate; then sampled the Club with 72%; and ended with the XO paired with 85%. “We follow this order because the cognac becomes richer and more complex with the aging process, while dark chocolate develops stronger notes when it has less sugar,” he explained. It also complements the sweetness, acidity, bitterness and intensity of both cognac and chocolate. We started by snapping off a good bit of each dark chocolate (a strong “snap” is one sign of good chocolate), and letting it melt on our tongues. While it sits there, we’d raise a glass and bask in the aromas of each cognac; after swallowing the bite, we’d take a small sip —lingering not so long in the mouth, but taking care to breathe through the mouth while sipping.

Charuel offered other pairing suggestions with their cognacs, such as VSOP with fresh oysters, sashimi or bleu cheese; or XO paired with rich dishes such as Peking Duck or chocolate lava cake — or, if you’re into cigars, a nice Montecristo No. 4 from Cuba.

The cool part of the evening was that, while it brought us some education, and a luxe tasting experience, it also actively brings education to disadvantaged kids in Port Area and Tondo. Baseco Compound a wide reclaimed area that is now densely populated by the urban poor. Children in this area are forced to skip school so they can work and help in sustaining the daily needs of their families. The #ForFutureHeroes program, through World Vision, has supplied over 2,600 school kits in the Philippines, with nearly a thousand donated to Baseco Compound so far. “Celebrating special occasions with fine spirits and sweets is a brand tradition with our customers, and this year is even more special,” noted Globe Platinum marketing director James Alcantara. “This milestone is just the beginning, as we explore more ways to indulge the passions of our customers, while empowering them to make an impact in the lives of others.”

Fine taste, and a good cause. A good pairing, indeed.

* * *

To know more about Globe Platinum and its initiatives to look after our children and families, visit www.globe.com.ph/platinum.

Visit https://www.worldvision.org.ph/for-future-heroes/ to order World Vision school kits for donation.

To order award-winning Malagos confections, visit malagoschocolate.com.

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