I was recently invited to the VIP Influencer Event to celebrate the launch of Don Francisco’s Coffee Nespresso-compatible espresso capsules. The organizers promised an elevated coffee experience – and they definitely didn’t disappoint!
Held at the Private Club Stage + Table in Santa Monica, the event was hosted by TV personality Eddie Zamora and featured unique coffee pairings created by the mega-talented, award-winning celebrity chef Joe Sasto (as seen on The Food Network’s “Chopped” and Bravo’s “Top Chef”).
Guests were greeted with warm “hellos” from the Don Francisco team and a welcome cocktail – the company’s signature cold brew with aged rum (YUM). After that, came the food.
Now when I say Chef Sasto is mega-talented, I mean MEGA. TALENTED. Sasto not only showed off his exceptional creativity with coffee-infused food (crispy coffee pork bun, anyone?) – he also paired them with coffee cocktails artfully presented in the form of molecular spheres. The delightful “pop” in my mouth as I pierced the bubble + the rich espresso oozing onto my tongue is a moment I’ll never forget.
Now enough talking – I know you’re dying for visuals. Here’s a glimpse of the menu. Note: it tastes and looks even better in person.
Don Francisco's Welcome Cocktail: Signature cold brew with aged rum
Ricotta & Coffee Gnudi: Wild Fennel, Cracked Hazelnut, Cultured Butter -Traditional Italian ricotta dumpling infused with espresso in the dough, glazed in butter, topped with chopped toasted hazelnuts and wild fennel pollen
Molecular Sphere Pairing: Old Havana Espresso, Amontillado Sherry, Lemon Oil Infused, Honey, Sel de Mer
Beef Tartare Cornet: Espresso, Nori Crumble, Wild Rice - Prime Angus beef tartare, seasoned with cooked sushi rice for texture, shiro dashi, espresso, chicory powder, chives, parsley - in a mini savory cone - topped with a crumble made of puffed wild rice, crispy nori, and pop rocks for a pop of fun and surprise.
Coffee Roasted Carrots: Garlic & Coffee Streusel, Carrot Hummus, Date Vinegar - Farmer’s market baby carrots, buried in coffee beans and roasted to infused the flavor of the coffee. (My favorite of the night!)
Crispy Coffee Pork Bun: Espresso & Sorghum Glaze, Pickled Beets, Tarragon Aioli - Heritage pork shoulder braised in a glaze of espresso, black vinegar, sorghum, aromatics, and 5-spice. Crisped on a flat top and stuffed into a Chinese bao, filled with shredded beets pickled in vinegar and espresso, topped with a creamy aioli of roasted garlic, fresh herbs, and tarragon.
Molecular Sphere Pairing: Nuevo Mundo Espresso, Cacao Infused Shochu, Tamarind, Cinnamon & Chili
Espresso & ‘Smores Tart: Graham Cracker Crust, Dark Chocolate Mousse, Burnt Meringue - Mini graham cracked tartlets filled with a chocolate and espresso mousse, a piping of French meringue, torched, and topped with a candied espresso bean.