Peculiar Pairings from Kakao Chocolate and Vom Fass

Peculiar Pairings from Kakao Chocolate and Vom Fass
Ettie Berneking

In April Kakao Chocolate (7272 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-645-4446) started dishing out ice cream. This evening the store will team up with its neighbor Vom Fass (7314 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-932-5262) to enjoy this summer staple topped not with globs of hot fudge or warm caramel sauce, but with an array of extra virgin olive oils and vinegars.

The unusual duo is part of Kakao's "Peculiar Pairings" series, which began last summer. For $1, curious customers can enjoy a sample of one of the night's creations; for $5, they can enjoy as many samples as they like. Proceeds benefit Discovering Options, which supports at-risk children in the St. Louis Public School program. The tasting runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

While the ice cream isn't made in-house -- it's from Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream (8130 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves; 314-962-2700) -- all the toppings will come from Vom Fass.

Of course, dousing ice cream in vinegar might not be the first topping to come to mind. But Anita Von Ballmoos, owner of Vom Fass, insists that curious palates will be rewarded.

"People have to be experimental," she says.

She might have a point. If so many of the Vom Fass vinegars go smashingly with a fruit salad, or bed of mixed greens, what's not to make them fit for ice cream?

"We want to find a flavor combination that's totally different and a little challenging but still palatable," adds Kakao confectioner Jenny Bazzetta.

Peculiar Pairings from Kakao Chocolate and Vom Fass
Ettie Berneking

Kakao and Vom Fass have been working together to find that flavor balance since the chocolate shop first opened. It's a union not uncommon in downtown Maplewood where neighboring restaurants and artisan shops always seem to be joining forces. Kakao chocolate is used in one of the martinis at Water Street Café and Cocktail Bar (7268 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-646-8355), and the owner and chef at Home Wine Kitchen (7322 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-802-7676) teaches cooking classes at the Vom Fass shop.

The menu for tonight's event is a surprise, but Gut Check stopped by Kakao Thursday afternoon for a sneak peek -- and to see if our taste buds were up to the challenge.

We're happy to report that they were. Admittedly, we were a little skeptical of the tiny dish of Venetian vanilla ice cream drizzled with a healthy amount of pistachio oil, but every doubt quickly flew away with the first bite.

The flavor combo is unexpected for sure, but...well, you'll see.

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