CHOCOLATE

July 4th, 2013

I am a self confessed dark chocolate addict. I have been savouring it daily since my University days and always try to carry around a small supply with me. Like to search out special regions and growers particularly in my travels and admire Valrhona, Michel Cluizel and Scharffen Berger and many others. Bought for decades Trader Joe’s PoundPlus 72% but preferred it before when it was made in France rather than now from Belgium. However my go to value brand continues to be the intense Lindt Excellence Ecuador 75% Cacao. When I started this habit I did it because I loved the taste sensation and never dreamed this would turn out be one of the best potent antioxidants. What an added windfall! Surprisingly I also consume lots of red wine, green tea and blueberries so I maybe I am getting a daily antioxidant overload.
The more I enjoy dark chocolate of at least 65% cacao and preferably 70% the more I find I detest white chocolate or even milk chocolate – too sweet for me! What about you?
Lots of top chocolatiers in Vancouver including Thomas Haas, Thierry Rosset, and Greg Hook. Invited last week to the preview of the later’s 20th anniversary celebrations in his shop and kitchen. Wonderful chocolate high as he was preparing his special treats for Valentines’s Day. Who are the top chocolatiers in your city? What do you treat yourself or your significant other to on Valentine’s Day?
Though I love both wine & dark chocolate I haven’t found any matching I actually prefer together rather than enjoying them separately! Closest successful pairing experiences have been a special Banyuls or an older Malmsey Madeira.  Any drier white or red table red with dark chocolate doesn’t work at all for me! What about you?

July 4th, 2013

8 Responses

  1. Yvonne Wallis says:

    A great topic Sid. The Victoria Branch in Australia has some serious chocaholics, so much so that some of us did a tasting recently of all of the gourmet chocolatiers available in Oz. We are blessed with some wonderful local makers, inlcuding Ganache in South Yarra and Monsieur Truffe in Collingwood – both vying for best dark chocolate available in these parts. We tested the truffles from the top 8 chocolate makers in Melbourne and ended up doing a play off between Ganache and Monsieur Truffe, then of Monsieur Truffe’s top two truffles. All 75% + cacao, it was touch and go, but most felt that Monsieur Truffe’s Ecuador truffle just tipped the scales.

    On plain dark chocolate bars (is there any other type of chocolate?) we love Lindt’s Excellence Ecuador but it’s not always available (Ecuador is so the best!). What does impress us is Green and Black’s 85% – not at all powdery like many other 85% choc bars. Difficult however to beat the choc bars produced by Ganache, which come in a variety of formats with roasted almonds, cranberries, orange and pistachio etc., as well as just the plain choc bar. Hard to finish the evening without a fix of dark choc – just one square eases the urge to indulge. Pedro Ximenez a match at a pinch, but why not just a great coffee.

    • Ian Westcott says:

      Agree with Yvonne’s summation of Melbourne scene. Ganache very refined chocolates, sometimes bordering on too smooth, as I like a touch of bitterness on the finish. All time favourite truffle is the Monsieur Truffe Ecuador but alas not always available – maybe just as well. Tasting many different single cru chocolates through Mr Truffe and in France Michel Cluizel, Ecuador based plots seems to figure regularly amongst my favourites.

    • Agree with Yvonne – good coffee is the match of choice for great chocolate. Not a lot of choice for chocolate here in Malaysia, though Lindt is available and Royce varietals from Japan at the Isetan store. The dark chocolate seemed to go surprisingly well with Yamazaki 18YO Whisky.

      Ganache sounds like total yum. Wonder if they export to Malaysia?

      • Hi Brian – Ganache is very strict on quality control so you likely won’t find it in Malaysia. A far as I’ve heard, while it’s made in Melbourne, the owner is only prepared to ship it as far as Sydney in Australia, not to any other location either in or outside of Australia. They are particularly concerned with their fresh, handmade truffles given their cream/milk content. The blocks are more robust. Maybe I’ll bring a few blocks to the IWFS festival in KL in June. You going to be there?

  2. The Niagara branch has done 2 wine and chocolate tasting events, both on Valentine’s Day. The first was chocolate and cabernet, because our president at that time was convinced that it was a great match. Everyone brought their favourite chocolate concoction and their favourite cabernet. We had lots of great chocolate and great cabernets, but the general consensus was they don’t match. The next year we expanded it to your favourite wine based beverage. What we found matched the best were Port, Madeira, Banyuls, PX Sherry, Muscat, and my personal favourite, Cabernet Franc Icewine (you’ll probably have to come visit us in Niagara to experience this) or Late Harvest, depending on the sweetness of the chocolate concoction. As always the wine should be sweeter than the chocolate.
    As for commercial chocolate, Green & Black’s Maya Gold is probably my personal favourite.

  3. Peter Joyce says:

    Sid, you and I have another similar addiction: dark well made chocolate. I too have been eating, not nibbling, it for over 50 years. Whenever I am in foreign lands I try their local dark chocolate varieties. I can cope, but not enjoy milk, but I cannot cope with white chocolate. I taste my chocolate with the same precision that I taste my wines: front palate, middle palate, back palate, after-taste, weight, texture, balance, and lastly, flavour. The perfect dark chocolate to my taste is: (following my tasteing nomencloture) dry, rich, sharp, long, light, velvet, integrated, pure chocolate. For your interest I always keep a large selection in my cellar so I never run-out, and have a variety to select from at any time. Yum.
    Peter C Joyce

  4. Ulrich Kunzmann says:

    Being originally from Switzerland, I must confess that for me there is nothing better than the “Lindor” balls, especially the blue ones made of dark chocolate. However, since we now live in the Western Australian Margaret River Area I have become a fan of the recently established “Gabriel” chocolate which is hand made with only the finest ingredients. When visiting their shop, they are most obliging in conducting a very interesting relevant tasting.
    And, should any of you happen to come to Margaret River (and referring to the above article) I would be most happy to bring you, in season, to a hidden blueberry farm where one can pick your own blueberries…delicious!

  5. Scott Bailey says:

    Agree, Sid; ‘regular’ wines do not work at all with chocolate; Banyuls and Malmsey, to my taste, are marginal, at best. PX and chocolate is a mistake, too.

    At a recent country club monthly wine tasting, the Italian importer DSWE presented a portfolio of unusual wines, including a dessert wine ‘Visciole’ (produced by Velenosi) that was a winner with the dark chocolate brownie sundae for dessert.

    It is a combination of one part of fermented juice from mascerated Visciole cherries and four parts of Lacrima di Morro d’Alba wine. The cherries are an old variety of wild, dark red, sour fruit grown in the Marche region, macerated with sugar and allowed to ferment. The fermented juice is filtered and mixed with the wine.
    26k half-bottles were produced; available in North America and Europe. $25 or so.
    Scott Bailey
    Coral Gables, FL

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