Going postal: El Bulli's chocolate with wasabi
There's something special about getting a package in the mail, don't you think? In our age of instant communication and gratification, we have forgotten what a thrill it can be to wait, to anticipate. That's why I love receiving packages in the mail, especially when the package contains a cookbook, kitchenware, or food.
The pattern never varies: I'm always at work when Canada Post attempts delivery, so every once in a while I come home to a delivery notification card. If I'm really lucky, it tells me I can pick up the package after 5:00 PM that day. If I'm unlucky, I'm stuck waiting until the next afternoon. The wait is unbearable.
Package in hand, I often play a little game with myself: how long can I wait to open it? I always fight the urge to open it in the middle of the post office. With a little discipline, I usually make it back to my office desk. I don't know that I've ever left a package sealed until I returned home.
I speak from recent experience. I've developed relationships with a handful of bloggers over the past several months, including the enormously talented Michelle of The Accidental Scientist. Michelle and I recently arranged a food exchange: I sent her a package of Soma's Mayan hot chocolate, which she discovered in one of our posts, and a tin of Mariage Frères Marco Polo tea, which Rachel loves (Michèle at Oswego Tea blogs about it here and here). In Toronto, tins are available for sale at Williams-Sonoma and Balzac's Coffee, and it's served at Holt's Café at Holt Renfrew.
In return, Michelle sent me a package filled with many delicious items I will be featuring in upcoming posts, beginning with this one. It seems appropriate to use an item we received in the mail, given that this is our contribution to the first edition of Canadian Blogging By Post (CBBP), hosted by the talented and entertaining Sam of sweet pleasure.
The theme for the inaugural edition is chocolate, and thanks to El Bulli: 1998-2002 and Michelle, who sent me a big bar of Scharffen Berger 70% dark chocolate, I have the makings of the perfect postable dish: chocolate with wasabi.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't inflict an El Bulli preparation on anyone who hadn't expressed a prior interest, but chocolate with wasabi is so easy I'm making an exception. The only ingredients are chocolate, wasabi powder, and water, and the most difficult part of the preparation is melting chocolate. It's a snap.
Given the searing, nose-clearing ability of wasabi, pairing it with chocolate seemed to come with risks. There’s no need to fear. The taste of the wasabi in this preparation is so subtle as to be undetectable most of the time. Perhaps this is due to the assertiveness and complexity of the Scharffen Berger chocolate, perhaps I screwed up. I don't know. Nonetheless, the wasabi does add a textural component -- a roughness on the tongue I find quite appealing -- as well as a pale cascading effect on the chocolate itself that is visually striking.
Now comes the tough part: waiting. Waiting not only to find out to whom I'll be sending the ingredients to make chocolate and wasabi, but also to rediscover yet again the thrill of receiving a mystery by post.