Words & Photography by Su-Lin Ong
The gourmet purveyors of Marylebone’s Moxon Street have nested themselves a charmed spot. Within a few metres, they can slip into each others’ homes and share neighbourly feasts of their own creations. That’s how one evening I came upon an adventurous get together, hosted by Laurent Faure of wine merchant Le Vieux Comptoir and Sam Smallman of Rococo.
And so I arrive more intrigued by the prospect of neighbourly crossfire and experimentation, than for the promise of wine & chocolate pairing made in heaven. Le Vieux Comptoir is tucked away and looks like a discreet Georgian merchant’s house. Inside it is brimming with ‘vins fins & délices de France’ and extends like a French farmhouse, with comfy rooms in which to sip, eat and while away time. The evening’s fun is about the challenge of new sensations in this most unexpected setting.
Laurent tells me he tastes 10,000 wines a year to create his cellar at Le Vieux Comptoir. You’ll notice many esoteric choices from virtually every regional corner of France. Now for the surprise: he hasn’t chosen a single red wine for the pairing. Sam responds with chocolates that are all about velvety textures, light herb fragrance and delicate fruit aromas.
Trial beyond our hosts’ choice pairings might enlighten or confuse, but for me, two really hit the palate in a stand-out way. The naturally rich Montlouis Moelleux, paired with the apricot & lavender ganache, opens into new caramelised apple notes; almost like a toasted almond topped apple crumble. And the subtle, fragrant Gewurztraminer, with the simpler rose ganache, becomes garden fresh; perfect to lead you dreamily thinking that this is how all dinner parties should end.
On the menu:
Patrimonio 2010, Domaine Montemagni
Gewurztraminer Tradition 2010, Gisselbecht
Montlouis Moelleux 2009, Cave de Montlouis
Bugey Cerdon, Domaine Olivier Bardet
Passionfruit & rosemary caramel
65% dark chocolate with basil & Persian lime
Rose & cocoa nib ganache
Rose, lychee and raspberry ganache
Apricot & lavender ganache
Red berry Madagascar ganache
Blackcurrant & violet ganache
Le Vieux Comptoir
26/28 Moxon Street
London W1U 4EU
3 Moxon St
London W1U 4EW