Monday, July 6, 2009

Love in the Time of 'Chocolat', or, One Hundred Years of Chocitude...

My poor, proud mother made the mistake of blowing up my individual Kindergarten portrait before first closely checking it. To this day, framed in gilt wood, suspended by the fresh faced portraits of my brother and sister, hangs, for all of time, an oval image of me that whispered my fate long before I was ever to live it. If one looks with a close eye, around the edges of my beaming 4 year old mouth, clearly and unmistakingly tracing the corners of my childhood smile, is the delicate, sticky, fudge like smearing of the remnants, apparently polished off in a bit of a hungry hurry, of a posthumous bar of deliciously doomed chocolate. CakeKnifers, it seems you can't teach an old dog new tricks. The love of chocolate has held true these 25 years, but I have raised the stakes on my old 4 year old self, if only just a little. Although I occasionally condescend to Cadbury, I have become a discerning Creature of Cocoa, a Snobolate. It is only on very select occasions, and with very specific bars of chocolate that I now indulge this most meltingly sweet of aching surrenders. So, this will not be a bountiful picnic on mars with lots of snicker-ing, we are taking a time out. I am going to go all Cocoa Chanel on you, and share some of my most coveted, luxurious little bars of bacchian beauty. A kind word of warning: do not attempt to read this piece unless you yourself have some good chocolate handy, otherwise, you'll just have to keep your covetous little legs crossed, firmly. Are you ready? It's a sudden descent...

Chocolate is one of the more satisfying, and legal ways, to pander to your inner pervert. Although all this talk of antioxidants has been very good for chocolate's PR, I remain a little disappointed by it. A bit like discovering that your favourite bad ass rock star was, all this time, moonlighting as a Catholic Choir Boy. Chocolate is a wicked, dark, dracula-esque, forbidden, adulterous, KinkyStickyTricky, RichAsHell, tantalizing transgression against the purity of the body, and so it should be. Sweetness, in good chocolate, is only ever one of the tastes, in cheap chocolate, it is more often than not, the only taste. Voluptuously bodied chocolate is only something to be eaten in smallish amounts, like an intense love affair that flagrantly consumes you for a trifling transience, it should be so intense that you can only handle so much at once. True chocolate is orchestral, its flavour is a convoluted confluence of bitterness, nuttiness, sharpness, sweetness, creaminess, spiciness. It has notes and nuances. In intelligent chocolate, the first flavour never tastes the same as the one that lingers in the end, or the one that dips in and out in between. Close your eyes, bite in, go down and follow the length all the way to the ambrosial end. That little BlogStar is the flourless Chocolate Brownie from The Earth Store in Bondi. It is Heartbreak in Hazelnut with a wanton chocolate coating on top, Russian Mafia Rich. It is divine, it tastes buttery in the best way possible, isn't too sweet and is dark and moist and stodgey to bite into. The perfect kind of dessert texture, when you bite into it your teeth marks remain imprinted into its decadent denseness. Eat it slowly, you'll have to pause between diaphanous bites to do it any justice at all. Let it violate you, let it desecrate you, let it penetrate you, let it complicate you. Let it feel you from the inside....Jesus...

I turned my tongue on Milk Chocolate years ago, the lure of the dark side proved too strong. But upon discovering the Caffarel Chocolate Bar they sell at Simon Johnson, I came rushing back into its mellow, milken embrace. At $9.25 for 75 grams, it's expensive for chocolate, but I still think it's the best thrill you can have for under 10 bucks. I am not toying with you when I say your eyes will roll into the back of your head when you try this. It's like a first kiss, a dense, smooth oblong of the CreamiestDayDreamiest chocolate you have ever laid your lovely lips on, bejewelled with crunchy little ecstatic enclaves of roasted Piedmont hazelnut. Hailing from Turin, in Italy, it is an edible Einstein of chocolately consistency, all imagination that will get you into some perspiration. This chocolate is textured like no other I have ever tried, it levitates on your tongue, like a Tokyo bound bullet train, I am not sure it ever touches the surface, breathlessly hovering somewhere between the hardness of Dolfin and the softness of Lindt, it is almost mousse like, but firmer and more melting. Eat it alone, in private, with the curtains drawn. The texture itself will make agony of your desire and reason, but the taste is like Blissful Bach on The Mesmerized Mouth. I buy one bar ever couple of months or so, cut it up into a holy trinity of celestial cubes, and linger decadently on a block at a time with a good, hot earl grey. Caffarel is a teleological argument for the existence of God.

My favourite dark chocolate bar is Dolfin with Earl Grey Tea. My brain almost exploded from my cranium to take residence 3 meters above my astonished head the first time I ever caught onto its sacred existence. Earl Grey and Chocolate, my two favourite flavours! Deliciousness and Efficiency could be the only result. When I finally got my hands on a bar, I was beyond delighted to discover that this beautiful Belgian Noir was not infused with Earl Grey Flavour, but actually contained, like firey flickers in singing fragrant bergamot, lithe slivers of crunchy Earl Grey Tea Leaves throughout. sdhgfjdh!?!? For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us... The Essential Ingredient, and occasionally, David Jones, stock this salacious slab. It is deliciously thin, and snaps off as you bite into it, it has a deep creaminess and is a gentle dark (only 52%), for those of you who don't enjoy higher cocoa contents. I once had a Brazilian 100% cocoa, tasting it was like hearing all the words Shakespeare ever wrote in a 5 second interval, it was unbelievable, took me about 3 months to finish half of it, and I had to throw the rest away.

One of my new noirs, is this stunning Melbourne born Loving Earth Raw Organic Dark Chocolate with Goji and Camu Camu. It is Shopenhauerenly sublime. What is so exciting about this chocolate is that it is gently sweetened with toffee tasting Dark Agave, a syrup made from cacti which is low G.I and and goes gorgeously in anything sweet, from desserts to porridge. It's almost like a more mellow maple syrup. Loving Earth also uses fairly traded raw cocoa (single origin from Peru), so it's quadrupled in antioxidant content (which i'll forgive, because it tastes like Christian Bale Chocolatified). Its texture is highly unusual, it melts on your tongue and dissolves like cocoa butter, so achingly soft and dark. The Goji studded throughout gives it sharp bursts of brilliant berry that make this a great alternative to a cherry ripe. It's the most intense of all the chocolates I eat, I only handle 2 squares at a time and have to have some green tea afterwards to sober up from the richness. Don't get me wrong, that's something I deeply respect. Loving Earth chocolates can be bought at The Earth Store in Bondi, The Whole Foods House Woollahra/Danks St, or About Life in Balmain/Bondi Junction. The sugarlessness of this makes it a great choice for diabetics who want to tease their pancreas, without fully pushing it off over the edge. More than sweet, it twists and turns with so many layers of flavour, the taste of this chocolate reminds me of a good coffee, just much more overpowering. 

Honourable mention must also go to Delicaseys Dark Chocolate w Coffee and Dark w Chilli Bark. Made by the adorable American Casey, and sold in the Paddington Markets and at some of the more knowing grocers. His dark chocolate is free from all milk products and made fresh with intense little bursts of flavour throughout. I love that it comes in a colourful bag with little broken slabs of chocolate inside, and not as a bar. So good to eat, when you bite into one of the scorched coffee beans, it's like a deep, rich, nutty latte erupting suddenly into the startled space of your amazed mouth.

Lots of boutique shop-olates (I am not in control of the punning, by the way, it controls me) are opening up in Sydney. I drop by to Haigh's, for their awesome Medium Sized Milk Chocolate Frogs, and to Just William Chocolates in Paddington for little treats every now and then. Zumbo's red wine infused camel toe and lavender truffles are not to be missed, either. As is the Potts Point Pleasure Place, Yellow, for their orgasmic passion fruit truffle, which is of such unbridled passionfruitish intensity, that spontaneous song must be broken into, immediately, as a result. Of the newer chocolate shops, there is nothing amazing to report. Most of them use overly sweetened chocolate, when all I can taste is the sugar, I am never that impressed. I generally dislike Max Brennar chocolate, with the exception of the cornflake and pepper truffle, which I usually get a square of when I take Dad for his sticky waffle fix.

Go Milk, Go Dark, Go Rich and Go Hard. Leave the 7/11 Selection to the Amateurs. Willy Wonka may have been a creepy bastard, but no one can say the man didn't have his priorities right.

4 comments:

Alisa@Foodista said...

An awesome chocolatey post! I found you from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide our readers to your site if you won't mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it's all set to go, Thanks!

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

OMG don't get me started - to die for - love this blog!

Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar said...

Looks delicious! I would love to try some.