Off the Menu: Rick Mast
In honor of this week’s Food Issue, we consulted our favorite arbiters of New York’s dining scene and asked them to compose literary tastings. Here is Rick Mast, of Mast Brothers Chocolate, New York City’s only bean-to-bar chocolate maker, producing micro-batches of handcrafted chocolate on the Brooklyn waterfront:
Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”
Pair this great poet with a dark milk chocolate that contains at least fifty per cent cacao, allowing the integrity of the bean to remain without being overpowered by refined caramel notes. Both Walt and this chocolate are intensely romantic, effortlessly complex, and nostalgic, without being dumbed down by mindless sweetness. Walt himself confessed to drinking cocoa every morning; dark milk is often described as drinking cocoa in a bar.
Othello, “Othello,” by William Shakespeare
81% with Fleur de Sel
This proud, lovesick Moor should be paired with eighty-one per cent dark chocolate, seasoned with chocolate’s version of the Venetian Sea, fleur de sel. The sea salt gives context to the sugar, intensifying not only the floral and cinnamon notes but also the sweetness. The complexity of the delicately salted chocolate may even surpass Othello’s jealousy, but at least your mouth will have a happy ending. Avoid your own jealous rampage by not sharing.
Johnny Cash, “Cash”
Single-Origin Dominican Republic
Try the man in black (one of my heroes) with a dark single-origin chocolate from the Dominican Republic. This cacao is particularly delicious in its pure form, unadulterated by additional ingredients. After you unwrap one of these rustic bars and open up this indispensable autobiography, you may catch the scent of rum and tobacco—from the chocolate and the pages.
Mr. Darcy, “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen
Patric 70% Madagascar Sambirano Valley
Ever thought, “Who in their right mind would spend that much on chocolate?” Give it a chance, Elizabeth; Mr. Darcy waits to be unwrapped. Even the most to-the-manor-born chocolate is relatively inexpensive compared to a bottle of wine, and just as transporting. Allow yourself Patric’s seventy-per-cent cacao bar from the Sambirano Valley, in Madagascar. Inside, you will find perhaps the most refined chocolate of the micro-batch scene. Cherry and plum will knock you on your rear in surprise.
Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”
Amedei Limited Edition Chuao
Mr. Thoreau hoped to connect us to the earth around us. The chocolate that best embodies the soil it comes from is Amedei’s Chuao, containing seventy per cent cacao. Chuao is arguably the finest and most untouched varietal, with an explosion of raisin, blackberries, and molasses straight from the earth to your palette.