The Final Word

June 29, 2009
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Managing editor Marina Mayer celebrates an almondpalooza by actually taste-testing the exotic likes of an edible Cuban Cigar, just to name a few.

Celebrating an Almondpalooza

Close your eyes and imagine eating a Cuban cigar. Come on, just do it.

Now imagine that the cigar is soft and chewy, and tastes like pulled pork and almond-sesame ash.

Or imagine biting into a Denver omelet made of corn purée and a muffin comprised of carrot scramble, cucumbers and jalapeños.

Now imagine good ole Ms. Won’t Try biting into such unique foods. (Okay, you can stop laughing now.)

These were just a couple of the menu items offered at the “Chocolate’s Perfect Match” event, which was held last month at Chicago’s Moto Restaurant. Co-hosted by the Almond Board of California, Modesto, Calif., and Barry Callebaut, also located in Chicago, the evening revolved around a 10-course meal of exotic offerings inspired by the antioxidant powers of blending delicate almonds and decadent chocolate.

The meal kicked off with bread and butter, but instead of diving into a basket of freshly baked bread, the restaurant offered a dried almond-based cracker covered with an edible glaze and dipped in almond butter.

Then there was the Mexican cannoli, which was made of duck chorizo, lime crème and chocolate and almond molé, all wrapped in a tortilla.

In addition to the excitement and anxiety that swarmed over how each bite-sized meal was going to look and taste, the event included guest speakers who discussed how blending almonds and chocolate can positively affect business, meal appeal and overall health.

In fact, according to Dr. Martin Wickham, a model gut platform leader for the Institute of Food Research, 76% of almonds are found in snacks, confections and baked goods. They compete with peanuts at the No. 1 slot and deliver an indefinite amount of gut health.

Another speaker, Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, a senior scientist and director of the antioxidants research laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, outlined how dark chocolate increases antioxidant defenses and lowers lipid peroxidation in hypertensive subjects.

Meanwhile, almonds do the same for hyperlipidemic persons.

Almonds, Blumberg notes, also are one of the six most antioxidant-rich foods, with dark chocolate being No. 1, followed by blueberries, raspberries, cocoa and milk chocolate.
Chef Homaro Cantu and pastry chef Ben Roche, the men behind the meals, are both internationally known for their post-modern cuisines that center around molecular gastronomy and imagination.

Suddenly that edible Cuban cigar doesn’t seem so bad, huh?

You can’t beat an almond and chocolate mix, even with Ms. Won’t Try’s picky standards.

Now on to the cheeseburger made with almond meringue, chocolate, bananas and cherries.

Marina Mayer, managing editor

Editor’s Note: Go to to read Marina’s exclusive online-only columns.

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