IMG_4066Every year the Almond Board of California organizes techno/culinary events to remind food scientists like me how great almonds are from both a flavorful and technical point of view. This year we visited Vosges chocolate shop in Chicago, during the IFT conference.

Almonds are really nutritious especially when eaten with cheese, chocolate and wine— all that fermentation (cheese) antioxidants (wine) and heart healthy nuts— It made perfect sense that we ate them all together ! For your own future pairing– do what we did at Vosges

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First Pairing

  • BARCELONA  BAR | Hickory smoked almonds + Fleur de Sel sea salt + 41% deep milk chocolate
  • VERMONT BUTTER + CHEESE COMPANY COUPOLE |Crumbly, nutty goat cheese.
  • Parcel  41 Merlot, Napa California | Enormously rich, ripe and concentrated showing layers of blackberry, current and mocha.

Second Pairing

  • NAGA TRUFFLE | 41% cacao deep milk chocolate truffle + sweet Indian curry powder + fresh coconut
  • VERMONT BUTTER & CHEESE COMPANY COUPOLE |This distinct cheese encompasses an amalgam of roasted nuts, citrus and florals as it ages, beginning firm and tangy and gradually transforming into an almost liquid outer layer of creamy bliss as it grows older.
  • NIVOLE MOSCATO D’ASTI| Gentle bubbles rise from this frizzante sparkler with notes of tropical mango, sweet peach and pea, balancing the spicy curry

 Third Pairing

  • WILD OPHELIA |SALTED ALMOND BAR| 41% cacao milk chocolate + chowchilla almonds + smoked Maine sea salt
  • YOUNG PECORINO| moist, milky and sweet, this fresh sheep’s milk cheese from Tuscany resembles fresh mozzarella, with a similar spongy texture but a more pronounced tang.
  • GOOSE ISLAND NUT BROWN ALE | chestnut-hued ale of unusual complexity. Subtle notes of chocolate, honey

Almonds are super healthy— just a quick summary of their benefits:

A one-ounce serving of natural or roasted almonds contains 6 grams of power-packed protein and 3.5 grams of fiber. It’s a top food source of the antioxidant vitamin E as well as magnesium, a mineral that helps the body produce energy, maintain muscle tissue function and regulate blood sugar.[i]

And, it’s a heart-healthy choice: according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. An ounce of almonds has 13 grams of monounsaturated, “good” fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat. 

A 2012 study shows whole almonds may provide the body with 20 percent fewer calories than Nutrition Facts labels currently state – 129 calories per ounce instead of the current 160. The study takes into account the digestibility of whole almonds, and further research is needed to better understand the results of the study and how this technique for calculating calories could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods.[ii]

About Rachel Zemser