Chocolate is my great love. Not just any chocolate, but the best, the finest chocolate in the world.
My apprenticeship as a chocolate connoisseur began when I was a child. Enrapt I listened as my father told me of how French children, unimpressed with the kinds of sweet confection on which I squandered my pocket money, would savour a few squares of the deepest dark chocolate.
I began to treasure sharing such treats with the grown ups. I started to score my own supply as soon as age facilitated independent shopping rights. Back then there was little variety to choose from. But still I would line up a little square of each currently in my stash and taste, one and then the other, savouring each morsel, focusing on their heavenly flavours. A form of preparation for the analytical tasting that feeds my passion today.
The more formal training for my role of chocolate enthusiast began, getting on for a decade ago, in the company of Paul A Young, award winning chocolatier and all round genius with the dark stuff. That day I discovered the type of chocolate I knew I loved even before I had met it! The kind of chocolate which, like wine, is full of the multiple nuances of flavour that are the result of using the best beans, and treating them with great sensitivity. Chocolate with maximum flavour, in which the beans reveal all the individuality of their type, their country, even of their plantation of origin!
My memories of that day are still so fresh. Partly because it is a little hard to forget what an embarrassment I made of myself when I tasted my very first nugget of Amadei chocolate. The sound I emitted was involuntarily carnal, and my fellow tasters silent composure did accentuate it somewhat in contrast! But mostly I remember that day because my eyes were opened, my taste buds had found their nirvana, and there was no looking back.
Paul also put me straight on a few things. Firstly, that my snobbism against milk chocolate was a bit narrow minded. A glorious milk chocolate made by Valrhona put paid to that. Chocolate with a higher percentage cocoa mass may remain my personal preference, but milk chocolate from a maker of note deserves a look in. Secondly, that a high cocoa mass percentage is no guarantee of quality. To accept or reject a chocolate just on the basis of its percentage is a little like buying a wine wholly on alcohol content. A very small part of the story!
So here I am, many years later, many bars eaten, many new chocolate wonders discovered. The world of fine chocolate is on a roll, the news of its glory is spreading fast. In this blog I wish to do my bit, by taking you with me on my adventures in chocolate!
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