According to Peter Edmunds that is the second most regularly asked question he gets asked, after “How did you get into chocolate?” These are not surprising questions when you are the chocolatier behind the Lindsay & Edmunds brand of organic chocolate. Peter spoke at the August talk at the Kitchen Cabinet, ‘The Chocolate Maker ‘ .
Chef Janet Jeffs told the assembled crowd that we had to suspend all previous notions of chocolate when we faced the lunch that she was presenting that day. Savoury, not sweet was to be the order of the day.
Peter started as a chef at Froggies restaurant in Sydney and then went through a variety of jobs including sailing instructor and yacht skipper, which led to Peter and his wife living in the south of England and northern France for several years. They were impressed by the specialised produce they found in the various farmers markets across France and were also surprised by the quantity of organic food that was available both in the UK and France.
I was so busy eating my way through my entree that I managed to miss the critical part of the story where Peter and his wife decided to become producers of organic chocolate. I was distracted by this entree, a savoury chocolate tasting plate.
At the back of the plate is bitter chocolate on crostini; front left is the Aztec cornmeal ploenta, to the right the cocoa buckwheat cakes; and in the front roasted cauliflower with cocoa nibs. I really liked the oily, complex cocoa nibs and could understand why Peter said they could become an addictive snack.
Thankfully the notes on the back of the menu tell me that on returning to Australia, having committed to eating organic food wherever possible, the Edmund’s realised that there was a distinct lack of quality organic chocolate on offer. The next step was to research this area and then launch thier own brand of Lindsay & Edmunds chocolates in 2008.
While initially based in Sydney, Peter and his wife travelled regularly to the Canberra Farmers Market. They subsequently moved to Canberra and now produce their chocolate at Fairbairn. You can actually drop by their facility and get a cup of coffe or choclate while watching the chocolate being made.
While Peter and his team always use organic chocolate, they also decided to switch their entire production over to sourcing certified Fairtrade chocolate after learning about the extensive use of child labour in the growing and harvesting of cocoa. Peter is clearly passionate about these decisions and was able to discuss a range of issues around the cocoa growing and marketing system with the lunch participants.
The two key ingredients for the main course of Mole Poblano Oaxaca were cocoa powder (available at Mountain Creek Wholefoods, Griffith) and dried, smoky dried chillies.Chef Jeffs describes this as a traditonal Mexican chocolate, chilli, spice sauce served with baked organic chicken. There are stacks of recipes and lots of interesting back stories to this dish should you want to chase them up on the interweb, but I was just happy to sit down and savour every luscious mouthful. Thanks to the Kitchen Cabinet staff who directed me to Janet’s recipe here.
We had all really eaten well by this stage, but there was still dessert to follow. What was described as a tasting plate of Lindsay & Edmunds chocolates could have been more accurately described as a giant slab of chocolates! An extremely large tile (twice as wide as my big bathroom tiles) was placed on the table, loaded with slabs of chocolates studded with fruit, nuts and other tasty ingredients along with white, milk and dark chocolate hearts.
While I’m normally a complete dark chocolate fiend, I actually spent a lot of time devouring the white chocolate almond praline, (third back on the left hand side); others at our table were smitten by the dark chocolate caramelised chilli and macadamia slab. Not that you had to pick favourites. The eleven people seated at our table were unable to eat it all so what was left went home with everyone in paper napkins. It really was a most generous serving.
Last Sunday’s lunch displayed both the versatility and value of high quality chocolate. Our fellow attendees also felt that it was perhaps the best value for money Kitchen Cabinet event we have attended, even counting the truffle lunch. Congratulations to Janet Jeffs and her team.
Thanks also to Peter Edmunds for reminding us that the best chocolates should have only 3 to 5 ingredients in them (not counting specific added flavourings such as fruit or nut pieces). Milk chocolate should contain nothing more than cocoa mass, sugar, vanilla, dairy and emulsifier. Dark chocolate should contain cocoa mass, sugar and vanilla. So don’t forget to read the back of the package before you buy.