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.
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.
napa cabbage, sprouts, and mint with black bean chocolate sauce
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?
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.
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.
with green onions and black sesame rice
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.
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