Ok, so I lied about the third one as it is in Biarritz, France, but it is just a short hop away from El Pais Vasco in Spain (Basque Country). Museums are usually cluttered with dusty, antiquated exhibits and yawning children, but this being Barcelona, would they really live up to their reputation for inventiveness and innovation?
Hot, sweaty, tired from walking all over the city visiting pastry and chocolate shops in a blistering Spanish summer heat, I was waiting all week for this. Oriol Balaguer’s much vaunted Paradigma del Chocolate, or as they say in Spain, mucha aclamada, for this is a variation on his famous 8 textures of chocolate, a masterpiece of a cake called Paradigma del Chocolate.
Oriol Balaguer, Spain’s rising star pastry chef? I’m not sure about that, as Spain is one tough market to lead, but he sure does make good chocolates! One can only imagine the sleepless nights he and his team have trying to figure out how to decorate the damn mold for his many different flavours!
You see, he only uses 1 mold, the cocoa bean shape, and trust me, trying to come up with different decorations to make each one unique is a pain in the butt. This was my first time tasting his stuff in Barcelona, having only had his chocolates in Japan. At Calle Morales in Barca lies his kitchen and though he was on holiday, his chef prepared the following for me:
Custom Selection of the most interesting chocolates
18 piece collection
Paradigma de Chocolate – 8 Textures of Chocolate Cake
Villayoooo-what? Its pronounced ‘Veeya-hoyo-sa’, a beautiful seaside town on the Costa Blanca in Alicante whose claim to fame is CHOCOLATES. It was here that cacao first landed on Spanish shores from the Americas and it once boasted many chocolate factories, of which, only Chocolates Perez and another outfit remain. Oh, this place is also home to Chocolates Valor, a big Spanish chocolate brand that churns out generic chocolate.
My quest for experiencing the bean to bar journey of chocolates brought me here, to Chocolates Perez, where Paco Torreblanca told me they use old school machinery to make chocolates. Having never seen old chocolate machines at work before, this was a welcome break from Pasteleria Totel and a perfect way to spend a day by the coast.