Sunday, August 24, 2008

Eclipse Chocolate: Five Course Pan-Asian Dinner

The ever-so-generous Will invited me to photograph this event. An invitation I gladly accepted! Food for photos was the agreement. Thus, the original and uncropped pictures below (I usually crop them) are now property of Eclipse Chocolat and I will not modify them for my own use. Those in-the-know are familiar with many of Will's themed meals and their creative flavors. ...At least I feel that they are unique. Will keeps assuring me that they are quite common.

I know what you're thinking. "Roger, shut up already and tell us about the food, gaddangit!" Yes. I do have a tendency to prattle on and on.


Chicken Satay with Chile-burnt Caramel Peanut Sauce

Good marinade and good grill timing makes for juicy flavorful chicken. Duh. Okay now dip it in the Chile-burnt Caramel Peanut Sauce. Did you have a mouthgasm? Of course you did. Eclipse Chocolat often uses the Chile-burnt caramel sauce and with good reason. It. Kicks. Ass. Although Will's rendition of this well known Southeast Asian street food lacks the signature glaze and isn't grilled over charcoal or wood, I sure as hell enjoyed the chicken skewers.

I can't even begin to imagine how amazing these could be if Will one day re-introduces this with the glaze and grill... Definitely would become a hit.

First Course:

Fresh Spring Rolls
napa cabbage, sprouts, and mint with black bean chocolate sauce

I don't know how other food bloggers deal with their own food-preference biases, but I'm going to come clean and say that onions and spring rolls are on the top of my Dislikes list. These rolls are pretty much like the vegetarian spring rolls you'd find in Vietnamese restaurants or delis but could use some tightening.

The accompanying sauce is interesting (tastes exactly like the description), but my two lovely dining companians--Autumn and Christina--discovered that dipping the spring rolls into the chile-burnt caramel sauce made for a better flavor profile. Don't get me wrong, the black bean chocolate sauce is good, but if you have a sweet tooth like me, you're gonna want to try Will's chile-burnt caramel sauce.

Did I mention how great the chile-burnt caramel sauce is?

Second Course:

Curried Carrot Soup
with coconut milk and lemongrass

My table deemed this the winner of the night. The flavors are so well balanced that I found it incredulous when Will sheepishly exclaimed that he just simply threw in ingredients. Hm. Actually, maybe it's not so hard to believe. Will has a knack for mixing flavors together. He's only going to get better as the years pass. This soup is a great example of what Will is capable of. Subtle "spicy" flavors of curry and carrot are balanced out by the sweetness of coconut milk and lemongrass. As much as I hate onions, I grudgingly admit that the green onions add another level of "sweetness" to the soup, creating a more complex flavor. While it is true that Thai curries also use the curry/coconut milk combination, I assure you this tastes nothing like it.

Nice refreshing cool soup for the summer. A+.

Third Course:

Stir-fried Long Beans
with candied cocoa nibs

The third course is my second least favorite dish of the evening. Long beans I've had at home and Chinese restaurants are really tender, but these were really tough. Maybe it is a different species than what is sold at 99 Ranch. I don't know. Candied cocoa nibs were great to nibble on, though.

Surprisingly, there were diners who found the long beans to be their favorite dish of the night. Maybe our differing viewpoints originate because I come from a background that has this veggie a lot.

Fourth Course:

Sake & Cocoa-Glazed Beef
with green onions and black sesame rice

YES! Finally some meat! Sake, cocoa, and ginger make for a nice sweet steak sauce. The onions? I took an obligatory bite, and made a face. Seriously. I hate onions.

Fifth Course:

Spiced Black Rice Pudding
with milk chocolate-cinnamon creme

Here we have yet another example of Will's ability to create exceptional desserts. Items like this rice pudding keep me coming back to Eclipse. As with all of Will's desserts, this one is not reliant on sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. He presents a tastier option instead: flavor--something I don't find often in dessert cafes. Cinnamon hits your tastebuds first, then subsides as the creamy milk chocolate takes over as the dominant flavor. Good stuff.

Don't miss the next dinner: Five Course Prix Fixe Southern Comfort Dinner.
Check the blog for updates (RSVP soon!)


Anonymous said...

You lucky duck. That looks wonderful, I didn't know he changed the menu. I've been meaning to go back ever since he hosted the bloggers mixer. I REALLY need to go now.

Thanks for posting this. I can't wait for your review.

Charlie Fu said...

when you taking me here Roger

joanh said...

mouthgasm? LOL. that looked yummy. that's so interesting that they used chocolate in all the dishes!

Anonymous said...

I saw you there. ^_^ I found this place thanks exclusively to you and this blog. This was our first exposure to Eclipse and I will be a fan for life. I agree with you on the long beans and spring rolls, and as for the chile burnt caramel peanut sauce - I think I could eat it on everything and be happy. The rice pudding was my husband's favorite, I quite enjoyed the soup myself. Hope to see you at the next one.

Roger said...

koko: Heya koko. Yeah Eclipse has a lot of new stuff now. I can't keep up with Will's development pace D: Maybe I'll see ya there sometime.

Charlie: we can go anytime, brah.

joanh: I LOVE YOUR BLOG. It's a shame I am unable to make my annual visit to Taiwan this winter. Would have loved to check out your recommended restaurants and maybe even meet up with the Hungry Girl.

kim: I saw you there too, Kim! I just don't know which guest you were. If this dinner got you interested in Eclipse, then my oh my you are in for a real treat when you try some of the dessert and fondue platters. Not to mention the truffles and cupcakes. Scope out the other Eclipse links on here for a little preview.

Thanks for droppin' by my little blog, fellas!