Did you know there’s a farm in the Redlands called Patch of Heaven Gardens, that’s single handedly foresting and producing cacao? Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, and refers to the beanlike seeds from which cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate are made.
Cacao doesn’t typically grow in our backyards here in Florida, but the ambitious people at POHG have paired up with our friends at Cao Chocolates to make it happen anyway. Last weekend I was invited on a tour of the property complete with a five course dinner and wine pairing – the best part – each dish was made with cacao!
We arrived at the farm mid-afternoon right after a crazy Florida rainstorm blew through, and blew through it did, as a tree fell and knocked the power out on the entire 20 acre property. In a hurry to be able to use what daylight we had left, we rushed to the fields for a quick lesson on how to pick the cacao and then over to the Chocolate Bar Tasting area for dinner. Let it be known that I will definitely be back to check out the rest of the property, I hear there’s an amazing barn that’s almost complete.
Dinner was put together by Ricardo of Cao Chocolates, with his wonderful wife cooking up the dishes in the farm’s kitchen. While we waited for dinner we did a chocolate sampling that included white chocolate, 42% milk chocolate, 70% dark chocolate, and a 75% dark chocolate. They were so pure and delicious that it made me never want to eat anyone else’s chocolates again!
The dinner menu was exceptional and allowed us to taste chocolate in forms I had never even thought of, making my dreams of chocolate for every meal a true reality.
First Course: Creamy Vegetable Soup with Cacao Butter, Topped with Green Onions and paired with Chateau Belingard Bergerac Blanc. I’m not typically a soup person but I would happily eat a vat of this.
Second Course: Spring Mixed Greens Topped with Pistachio, Ginger, Raspberries and Cacao Vinaigrette, paired with La Delizia Prosecco Spumante. At first glance it sounded like it would be a very sweet salad, but it was surprisingly savory and the flavors worked very well together.
Third Course: Ratatouille Crostini with Crunchy Cacao Nibs served with Conquista Malbec Mendoza. This was the chef’s favorite and I could see why. The ratatouille was made to perfection and obviously full of love.
Fourth Course: Meatballs with Dark Chocolate and Tomato Sauce over Creamy Mashed Potato. It worked perfectly with Mondavi Private Selection Meritage Cabernet Sauvignon served alongside. Let me repeat – dark chocolate and tomato sauce. No other words needed, omg.
Fifth Course: Panini with Dark Chocolate, Mozzarella and Prosciutto. Paired with Columbia Crest Grand Estate Merlot. This dish was easily the favorite at the table. It was gooey and delicious and I will confess I’ve already made a copycat version at home.
Of course, we had already been filled with chocolate but that didn’t stop us from having dessert! Dessert was a Chocolate Mousse Topped with Chocolate Crumbles and Raspberry Sauce. The perfect ending to a meal that truly tasted like it came from heaven.
Patch of Heaven Gardens will be hosting another fantastic event like this one on January 28th featuring another five course meal with wine pairings.
Tickets can be found on Eventbrite link here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-taste-of-heaven-chocolate-tasting-tickets-29395739448 and all proceeds go directly back into the farm for creation and expansion of the cacao trees.
21900 SW 157th Ave, Miami, FL 33170