Chocolat

Thank God its Friday. Ladies, time to kick off the work pumps and get out your patent stilettos & little black dress ..guys, time to get out that party swagger- let’s paint the town red.  Here to get you in the mood for Friday’s party is my sassy friend Eiling as  Blogger in the Spotlight (BITS) on fine, fine.. chocolates. Enjoy!

As far as ‘worldly’ pleasures go, chocolate seems to be the most modest and unassuming in comparison with acquisitions of luxury property, expensive holidays, multiple orgasms (!) or that bungee jump adrenaline rush. Even if it doesn’t stir the strongest passion in you, it is still the most dependable source of pleasure which can be indulged in, anytime and anywhere. Not only that, it hardly costs you an arm nor a leg.

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Chocolate has always been my best friend, my career and my pleasure. It’s not easy to find a career as satisfying and comforting as a bar of chocolates.. but I did! And entering into the 3rd chocolate company, I have been continuously working with chocolate since I graduated 5 years ago! I wouldn’t say I’m an expert when it comes to chocolates, but I have tasted the good and the bad, the elegant and the vulgar, the cheap and the expensive and the REAL THING vs sugar.

Do you know how much cocoa you’re getting from your favourite chocolate? Most sugar confectioneries like to masquerade behind the name of chocolate. And that favourite milk chocolate bar with less than 20% cocoa, according to the E.U., it is not even deemed fit to be called a chocolate!

So what makes a bad chocolate?

Poor quality beans from Forastero trees. In the early 20th century, human greed for profits pushed many producing countries to destroy Criollo trees and replaced them with more productive Forasteros. Therefore only 1% of world’s cocoa beans comes from Criollo, 14% Trinitario (cross between Criollo and Forastero) and 85% Forastero. Looking at these numbers, it is no surprising to see that most people have not yet encountered fine chocolate.


The Real Thing..

There’s chocolate and then there is chocolate. Many people have grown accustomed to the cloyingly sweet version of “chocolate” for example confectionary chocolate, instead of the purer bitter chocolate with pure cocoa solids. Don’t worry, it’s never too late to reprogramme taste-buds and amongst the ones you really must try are:

1. Valrhona

France is mainly a dark chocolate nation and it’s evident in this French chocolate label founded in 1924 that I loved so much. They introduced the Grand Cru chocolate range, first in 1985 to the world of professional chocolatiers, then, in 1990, to all of us! They have 8 different Grand Crus and my favourite is Manjari (64% cocoa) that goes very well with red wine. This range is made from the finest beans selected from geographic regions. I learnt from Valrhona that the percentage of cocoa does not dictate the taste, because the beans do. Now, you can get this at the KLIA airport and one no longer has to get it from Singapore. A 70g bar costs RM17.50 duty free.

2. Amedei

An Italian chocolatier based in Pisa, Italy. In 1997, after visiting cocoa plantations in Venezuela, Amedei decided to produce chocolate only from beans personally selected at the plantations as opposed to getting them from bean-brokers. Amedei is a direct competitor of Valrhona but it’s a much smaller company. The Chuao and Porcelana bars are the jewels of Amedei.

Aficionados have likened Chuao to the world’s most revered vineyards. To some, it’s the Domaine de la Romanee Conti of chocolate and to other’s it’s the Chateau d’Yquem or the Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Heston Blumenthal, the chef whose Michelin-starred restaurant has been judged to be the best in the world, searched for the best chocolate when he was attempting to make the best Black Forest Gateau in the world. He experimented with many fine chocolates and in the end, his final choice was Chuao from Amedei which he described it as rich and dark, with a tobacco aroma and a plum or cherrystone note.

I recently bought a 100g bar for RM28.00 and it should be available at Dish in Dua Annexe KL.

3. Beschle

I know it’s a bit shocking that none of the chocolates I mentioned comes from the famous chocolate-producing countries like Belgium or Switzerland but this Beschle is indeed a Suisse chocolate!! Beschle Chocolatier Suisse was founded in 1898 and spans four generations of the Beschle family. In their tablets range, there is a number of Grand Crus and Premier Crus chocolates to choose from.

I bought a bar of Quizas Premier Cru Criollo and apparently, Quizas has caused a small sensation with its Premier Cru quality: it uses Porcelana, the purest genetic form of Criollo cocoa bean. The Porcelana bean is so rare that, apart from Beschle, only a handful of other companies are able to use it. The raw material is sourced from a secret place south of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. I paid almost RM50 for this 50g bar in Singapore.

Learn & Appreciate..

Good chocolates definitely cost more than the sugary brown stuff. However, real chocolate provides a serious pleasure for less than the cost of many other worldly pleasures. Just like wines, chocolates has it’s crus as well. Of course it’s cheaper to consume a bar of Grand Cru chocolate than to savour a glass of Grand Cru wine!  You need not be an obsessive chocolate snob, but developing an understanding of what you like will undoubtedly help. After all, learning to appreciate chocolate is just like learning to appreciate good food and wine!

About this week’s guest writer

Eiling is a food blogger From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As you can probably tell by the end of this post, she really loves her chocolates. You may read more about her worldly adventures on her blog entitled simply , Wine & Dine and Everything Fine or ,

you may Follow  Eiling on twitter!

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