Howling for…Chocolate

27 10 2010

“I must admit, I can’t explain, all these thoughts racing through my brain –

it’s true, baby, I’m howling for you…”

I would like to thank the totally awesome band, The Black Keys, for the words that inspired this blog because basically, this is how I feel about chocolate. I guess I must also admit that I can be a bit of a chocolate snob.  Once upon a time, I never used to read chocolate wrappers as obsessively as I do now, but lately, I’ve noticed just how bad much of the easily accessible chocolate tastes, hence all the reading…and obsessing.

Not chocolate, but almost as good.

When seeking out this precious treat, I am always willing to go the extra mile.  Literally.  Take, for example, my trip to Paris when my friend, Kat, and I decided to visit one of the world’s most famous chocolatiers.  We researched the location and devised our travel plan, executed the rather complex route we had to take via metro, and then proceeded to walk forty five minutes through some little-known neighbourhoods in the city of light – in the middle of February.  Was it worth it?  You bet!  The chocolates were definitely one of a kind and something we would probably never get to eat again.  The candy had that perfect snap to it and the fillings were complementary elements to the cocao which, mind you, was that perfect mix of bitter and sweet.  There were absolutely no cloying sweet, sugar saturated, fake fruit, tasteless truffles in sight.

Tres bien!

In my younger days, my brother and I would scour the house for any chocolate that might be hiding from our greedy little hands.  My mom actually had to stash the stuff in new hiding spots every week so that we wouldn’t devour it all in one sitting.  Times haven’t changed all that much, but the chocolate I grew up with has morphed quite a bit.  I remember the days when Poland was importing some very good chocolate to the Polish stores around the GTA.  Wedel was definitely number one in terms of taste and repertoire.  Sadly, some evil chocolate moguls of the North American variety (where reading a few labels reveals that “chocolate” seems to mean sugar, sugar, sugar and some cocao flavour) bought Wedel out.  This forever destroyed the fabulous taste and most famous name in Polish chocolate.

Wedel - not what it used to be.

Thankfully, Poland hasn’t got it all wrong (after all, they are relatively close to the Swiss and Dutch who are world famous for their chocolate and cocoa respectively) and there are still a few brands I trust; and that taste the way chocolate should taste.

In this...

...chocolate...

...we trust.

Thankfully, there are actually several brands of chocolate which are readily available in North America that are absolutely excellent as well – so perhaps I am not a complete chocolate snob after all?  😉

For example, I adore Kinder (although they’re actually a German company) and nothing beats the Kinder Surprise egg with the dinky toy inside.  Also, if you haven’t tried Kinder Bueno, I recommend it.  I also tend to visit the Lindt warehouse store fairly regularly where I like to bulk up (I mean, buy in bulk) various types of chocolate (although Lindt is actually a French company that uses Belgian chocolate).  When I am forced to buy chocolate from a vending machine – God forbid – I always end up choosing Snickers.  If I’m in a real bind, almost any chocolate will do – even the white stuff – although that has cost me many pointless calories over the years.  Independent chocolate shops are a favourite place to discover new combinations of flavours and any place that serves “real” hot chocolate – ie: chocolate and cream melted together and poured into a cup – makes me grin like a Cheshire cat.

Grin

So, I’m constantly on the lookout for better, more accessible, crazily flavoured chocolate for my palate.  I’ve tried hot chili chocolate (love!), garlic chocolate (not my thing), any chocolates containing alcohol (yummers!), salt chocolate (different and complex), 99% chocolate (an acquired taste but still good) and chocolate with flowers in it (rose and lavender to be exact).

So, have you had any good chocolate lately?

Note to readers: One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to chocolate is when it is stored improperly.  From the little that I know about this amazing confection, tempering is the process by which chocolate is melted with other ingredients and then solidified slowly to create specific shapes and densities.  The most common way to temper chocolate correctly is by melting it slowly over a double boiler and then tempering it on a marble slab.  Melting chocolate in a microwave or storing it in the fridge is actually the worst thing a person can do to chocolate.  Almost instantly, the silky texture disappears and is replaced by a crumbly, waxy mess.  I have witnessed this chocolate brutality in some stores and even in private homes where chocolate is stored in the fridge to “keep it fresh”.  Be kind to any chocolate you buy or receive – keep it in the cellar, cool room or even a wine fridge (turned up to a nice 10 degrees Celsius or so).

Pictures: from the internet – thank you to all these wonderful photographers.

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10 responses

27 10 2010
Margaret

Great post, but I have to disagree on a lot of things this time… not a huge fan of polish chocolates, thumbs down for Kinder Bueno, thumbs up for Lindt (extra thumbs up for Lindt salt!)…. and where is the Lindt Warehouse?

27 10 2010
esfritic

Hey – interesting. Things I didn’t know about you 🙂
There’s a Lindt warehouse type thing in my town.

27 10 2010
Dorothea

Loved this post! I have to say I agree with all your chocolate choices, I’m very much a choc-snob. My personal fave is anything from Bernard Callebaut, from chocolate-covered pretzels to chocolate cups.

27 10 2010
Neil Moser

Haha, bulk up – love it. One of my favourite chocolate stores is Soma – a beautiful little place in Toronto’s Distillery District. You can actually watch them making the delicious morsels through a large glass window that looks into their kitchen. Here, in the Distillery, you actually feel like you have stepped into a little piece of Europe on Canadian soil. My favourite chocolate experience at Soma: pine. Not quite mint, not quite flower, but a flavour that respectively has a similar spike and aromatic presence. Drool…

27 10 2010
esfritic

We shall visit said choco shop and taste pine during our New Years fiesta. 😀

27 10 2010
AmyD

I have not had any really good chocolate in a while ;(- I tend to stick to Lindt and avoid “cheap” brands. However reading through this blog I now need to find some good chocolate. As the Xmas season is approaching my mother has a habit of buying the “kids” Rheo Thompson from Stratford- I look forward to it- I recommend it!! Also the Kris Kindle Market that happens every year at City Hall in Kitchener has great chocolates too! Thanks for the Blog -gotta go find me some chocolate… waist line- what waist line!!

27 10 2010
Kasia S.

http://www.julietteetchocolat.com/chocolat.php?lang=en
this is all I can say from Montreal! Cheers and come visit …this place is awsome, check out the menu!!!!

27 10 2010
esfritic

Yum, I remember this place! I think I experienced chocolate overload that day. Not a bad thing.

27 10 2010
Kasia S.

Ok wait…. I have alot to say about chocolate… I too am a chocolate snob… BIG time. Don’t buy me chocolate for Valentines day – because you WILL get it wrong. Don’t ever show me or dare to offer me a coloured tin foil egg shaped thing at easter- I will throw it out in front of you ( If I want to taste metal and wax, I can chew of a dog collar). Anything Belgian tastes too sweet for me it’s not chocolate- c’est pralines. Kinder- ok beueno, it’s candy but perfect texture. Kinder- Totally over rated! Please do not get caught up in that trap! go on the internet find a somewhat local place… AND TRY what you like. When you know what flavors tingle your loins .. you will never be disapointed with chocolate again. There is nothing worse than biting into a “truffle” and getting smacked with sugar that you can’t breathe. Chocolate at it’s perfect smells like chocolate, snaps perfectly when you break it, is smoothe in the mouth, and you wont have to chew it at all … it should melt. It’s all in the cocoa butter-EXPENSIVE- hence the fact many “chocolate” producers mask this with sugar and other oils such a coconut. READ your lables people! And above all else; if it has anything with modified corn starch, don’t waste your money. When you taste perfect chocolate like we did in Paris- you never want chocolate crap again. With Chocolate Love, waiting for your next post. xoxo

27 10 2010
esfritic

Excellent comments. I agree about the “snap” and smoothness and smell and the lovely melt-in-your-mouth effect that is only feasible when eating good chocolate.

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