12 chocolates to taste in a morning means one helluva tired palate. Not an optimal amount but hey, its a tough job and someone’s gotta do it On to the last 6 chocolates on the taste list.
We will start with the rectangular chocolate on the top right and work our way down to the square with green stripes on the edges, making a u turn to end with the light brown square with the dot on the top left.
Chestnut Cream Ganache – Franck Fresson
- Not too sweet as chestnut confections can turn out to be
- Medium firm
- Singular chestnut flavour
The Japanese have a love affair with Mont Blanc, and you can see it in every pastry showcase. Done to death and boring as hell, its not hard to see why this one made the list. Don’t be mistaken by my sarcasm that this was bad in any way, because it tasted good……but pedestrian. Had it been some special chestnut from a particular region with a particular flavour of its ‘terroir’ attached to it, maybe it would have been more interesting.
Chances are that the chestnuts came out from a can, the same stuff pastry chefs use everywhere for their Mont Blanc’s. Had the chestnuts used come from the French AOC Ardeche or Corsica chestnuts or Italian IGP Amiata or Mugello chestnuts, you can be sure the chef would be thumping his chest and proclaiming the progeny of his ingredients. Once again, another good, but not great chocolate.
Sunflower Seed Praline – Franck Kestener
- 2 layered chocolate piece
- Top layer of smooth sunflower praline + dark chocolate
- Bottom layer of caramelised sunflower seeds with praline
- Beautiful sunflower flavour
- Great textural contrasts of smooth and crunchy
- Perfect level of sweetness
- Made me wish I had one more
Isn’t it good to finally read something GOOD for a change instead of incessant ranting? Franck Kestener took a different path and as the cliched Robert Frost poem goes, it made all the difference! This is surprising because when you visit Kestener’s website and view his list of chocolates, the first thing that would hit you is that some of their names sound like they were lifted from La Maison du Chocolat’s catalogue! The flavours on offer are so ‘classical’ that this sunflower entry is a breath of fresh air.
Kudos to Chef Kestener for this chocolate piece for it was throughly enjoyable as well as a new taste experience. This sunflower praline goes into the bag of tricks!
Lemon + Tarragon – Sebastien Bouillet
- Milk chocolate ganache
- Dominant flavour of Tarragon
- Not too sweet for a milk chocolate
- Lemon is barely discernible
This was a new flavour combination to me when it comes to chocolates and my only notes are ‘Tarragony”. That kinda sums up this chocolate piece, but even though Tarragon is not a favourite flavour of C’s, she did mention a great flavour pairing of grapefruit + tarragon + candied grapefruit peel she once had on one of her many travel adventures around the world. Just remember to tame the tarragon as we are not exactly summoning the green faerie here.
Moet and Chandon Champagne Ganache – Cagi de Reves
- Bad, cheap chocolate masquerading as expensive stuff
Welcome to the world of slick marketing that has plagued the fine chocolate industry and skewed the tongues of millions who believe a few certain international brands of Belgian chocolates sell the best damn tasting hydrogenated vegetable fats on the planet.
Cagi de Reves, I’ve seen their shop in magazines looking all slick, exclusive and expensive. This is not a MR2 pretending to be a Ferrari (Top gear fans, you know that I mean, and an American Chocolate Brand already holds this place), this is a pauper spending all his money on a gold rimmed toilet bowl with no plumbing.
For all the pizazz and effort put into making a luxurious looking shop, should they not have invested a bit more in the quality of their chocolates? It is not surprising that their booth was right across from Belcolade’s and an industrial Japanese chocolate maker whose name escapes me. Meiji Chocolate was in the same area as well and it seems all the crap was confined to this area.
Sorry to sound harsh, but this was really horrible, and Moet and Chandon should be ashamed to allow their champagne to be treated with such disgrace.
Gianduja Speculoos – Christian Camprini
- Tastes like 60/40 hazelnut praline with speculoos spice
This is a very common flavour combination for fine chocolates and may be interesting to consumers. It is certainly a very good tasting chocolate and you cannot really go wrong with hazelnut paste and chocolate. Add speculoos spice (Gingerbread spice), and you get an aromatic edge to complement the hazenuts.
Artisan du Chocolat does something similar with self ground praline, and whilst at Paco Torreblanca, we did something similar with Cacao Barry hazelnut praline, speculoos and crispy wafer shavings (Paillette Feuilletine). Tried and tested, nice and safe, but not what I’d expect for Salon du Chocolat.
Lychee Ganache – Patisserie Kubler
- Predominant lychee flavour
- Dark chocolate
Another one jumping on the bandwagon, offering up yet another pedestrian chocolate creation. Thank the heavens he did not put rose oil into the ganache in a glorious moment of divine inspiration. Sarcasm is starting to take a hold of this post, so I shall stop here and go with ‘No Comment’.
You have just seen a chocolate tasting through the taste-buds of a cynical, sad, underpaid chocolate cockroach with anger issues. I have no doubt at all that most of these chocolatiers are artistes in their own right and are stubbornly proud of what they do.
God knows I will be put under the same scrutiny when I start a chocolaterie in the future. There will surely be some smart ass heckling me online as thats how karma goes. However, this experience begs the question, “Have we stopped innovating?” Read more in the next installment.