What a night we had last night in Wichita, KS! One of my (Ryan) great friends from high school in Boston contacted me this week to tell me he and his wife were moving to New Mexico and would be passing through Wichita, KS. He contacted me via Facebook to see if I still lived there – by chance it is this week that I am here on business. We hadn’t seen each other in 10 years! I’ll spare you all the details of our reconnecting, but I will tell you that it was phenomenal! He and his wife were awesome and Kate and I are so excited to hang out with them again!
Kate and I started our evening by meeting up for an early dinner at Sabor in the Old Town district of Wichita. We ordered margaritas as big as your head, ceviche, salads, and my favorite; fish tacos. As a past California resident I have had fish tacos that will rock your world! These were contenders for that top spot and I highly recommend having them if you are in the area! We strolled the area, peeked in all the restaurants, discovered a new wine shop called Beyond Napa, and then wished our new friends safe travels on their road trip west.
We then traveled to the East side of town to Cocoa Dolce, a local chocolatier who has recently moved into a new location as they expand due to popularity. Owner Beth Tully treated us and a handful of fans to a beer and chocolate pairing as we tasted a variety of accompaniments and contrasts.
Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry Beer (England)
Samuel Smith Old Brewery
Strawberry Balsamic, a white chocolate butter ganache flavored with Early Glow strawberry preserves and a 25-year aged Balsamic vinegar.
The beer was so surprisingly light and bubbly that it drank more like a rose champagne then a beer. The lightness of the beer and the carbonation cut through the chocolate acting like a pallet cleanser.
Samuel Smith Organic Raspberry Beer (England)
Samuel Smith Old Brewery
Raspberry, a raspberry puree in a 57% bittersweet Belgian chocolate ganache with a touch of Chambord finished with pink polka dots.
A thicker, sweeter, fruitier beer it was too filling on its own. However, paired with the chocolate the 2 brought out subtle nuances in each other and made for a phenomenal desert.
Westmalle Trapist Ale (Belgium)
Lemon Thyme, fresh thyme and Meyer lemon in a 70% bittersweet ganache finished with an arabesque texture sheet.
A sweet nutty beer with an almond after taste akin to Chimay. This was a very refreshing pairing where the contrast of the beer acted as a palette cleanser and revealed the chocolate anew with every bite.
Unibroue Trois Pistoles (Quebec)
Gianduia, a classic Italian ganache with hazelnut praline and Belgian milk chocolate finished with a dusting of pralined hazelnuts.
The 4 different malts of this beer make it bold, sweet, and dangerous (good dangerous). Take a bite of chocolate, then a swig of beer…the beer brings out the hazelnuts rapidly and suddenly revealing their tiny nuances.
Rogue Shakespeare Stout (Oregon)
Rogue Ale Brewery
Mocha, a dark milk chocolate ganache infused with espresso and Kahlua Especial finished in a dark chocolate shell mold.
The bitter but sweet extremely stout beer was the perfect pairing with this dark, dark chocolate.
Saranac Caramel Porter (New York)
The Matt Brewing Company
Burnt Caramel, burnt caramel in a 70% bittersweet ganache finished in a hand-painted shell.
The perfect conclusion to a tasting as both of them are overloads of decadence! Dulche de Leche beer with a caramel sweet chocolate! Of course it was also nice to finish this night on a beer from our home in the Adirondacks of NY.
While concluding our tasting we met another couple and began discussing why we were in Kansas. We soon found that we had a lot in common, mutual friends, overlapping stories, and so on. Why let the night end there? We made the move to Chesters for a little scotch and wine to get to know our new friends. We had great conversation and were so excited to have met Andrew Kozak (Meteorologist for KSN 3 in Wichita) and Heather Park (Marketing Manager for Mommy’s Helper Inc.).
What an amazing night in Wichita, KS and another refreshing experience in the Midwest meeting some amazing people! It was one of those nights you wish you could capture in a bottle. Another reason I am proud to say I am from Wichita, KS.