Thursday, November 14, 2013

how to handle a chocolate tasting

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? "How to handle a chocolate tasting." You enjoy it the heck out of it, that's how! Last weekend, before leaving for Brussels (a city famed by its own chocolatiers), I joined a small group of expats at a Parisian apartment for Discover Paris!'s event with Marie-Hélène Gantois of Mococha Chocolat. It was quite the tasting. I nearly out-chocolate-d myself, if you can believe it, and ended up going home with a bag of half-eaten bonbons. (Don't worry. Each piece has served me well this week.)
The cultivation and consommation of chocolate originated in the Americas (woot, woot) a couple thousand years ago. It was sacred to both the Mayans and Aztecs. As a result, the Latin name for the cacao tree--theobroma cacao--unsurprisingly means "food of the gods." Chocolate continued to be used for healing even after it was brought to Europe and sweetened. As Marie-Hélène told us, it was initially only available for purchase from pharmacies in France. Then, roughly 150 years ago, artisans got their hands on it.
After taking plenty of photos and notes, and brushing the hair out of my face (merci bien Tom for providing the evidence above), we went on to taste some of their chocolate creations. Marie-Hélène guided us as we first chose a pure chocolate square at room temperature, admired its sheen, listened to the sound as we broke it in half, inhaled the released aroma, and placed it in our mouths to melt. The slow process allowed me to pick up on various tastes and textures. I decided Ecuadorian chocolate is my favorite.
Preferences became wonderfully more complicated though as we finished with truffles accented by basil, wasabi, paprika, ginger. And yet, I so gladly kept my opinionated findings in mind as I browsed the selection at Pierre Marcolini the next day. Many thanks to Tom and Monique for inviting me, Habitat Parisien for offering a space, Tricia, John, Richard, Sandy, Eric, Diane, and Adrian for bringing extra lovely company, and, of course, Marie-Hélène Gantois of Mococha Chocolat for treating our tastebuds to such an exquisite experience. Without another chocolate tasting event on the agenda, this weekend is certainly going to dull by comparison.

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