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Goodness is a piece of Haut Chocolat

June 11, 2010

My friend Amanda was craving something dark and strong. I suggested some coffee, but she wanted something to bite into not just sip. We went to a small chocolatier in the underground shopping centre situated in Namba Station, Osaka, close to where we both worked. The chocolatier was one of the first speciality places I had seen in Japan, not realising then how was obsessed this country was with anything haute: cuisine, couture, design….

We went straight to the counter that displayed fudges and chocolate pieces ranging in different percentages of cacao. Amanda and I pretended to know everything about chocolate going on how milk chocolate was for kids and dark was for refined taste buds like ours. The airs and graces we emulated kicked us in the pants later on.

We each bought a small piece and headed to our favourite café for a coffee and a place to indulge.

Amanda carefully took the dark sliver of richness out from the exquisitely wrapped bag, and in a delicate movement not far from graceful,  she took a small bite — then spat it out. In our state of ignorance we had both bought a piece of chocolate with 85% cacao. When I bit into mine it stuck to the roof of my mouth, it was too bitter for general eating. Even the coffee didn’t care for the chocolate when I added it to the steaming brew.

That was then — 2002 — and this is now. Oh times have changed!

After Japan, the next place that gave my taste buds an experience was Korea and kimchi chocolate. Kimchi is a fermented cabbage laced with chili and garlic. Essentially it was only chili and chocolate but the idea of fermented cabbage in chocolate was off putting to most. It wasn’t this supermarket style mix that I loved, it was the 72% cacao chocolate pieces that came packed in portable plastic containers made by Lotte that hooked me. I knew the Director of the company well enough that he would bring me six-packs of these pieces goodness each week. Ask any young Korean lady what’s in her handbag and she will probably pull out one of these containers. Why? Because it’s good for you.

via Daily Kimchi

In the US chocolate took on a new meaning. Some of you may remember my visit to Romanico’s in Miami.  A small unassuming chocolatier specialising in global flavours: Japanese ginger, sea salt and soybeans, chili, the list goes on. I’ve been back a couple of times since, pushing myself to explore the different flavours on offer. Right now I’m making my way through sea salt and soybeans…

by Cate

Vosge’s based out of Chicago has also taken over my chocolate world for now. I discovered this purple brand chocolatier last year after spending a few days in Chicago. Although I was unable to shoot any pictures due to the size of the teeny tiny kiosks and lighting, it didn’t stop me from sampling. I’ve been addicted to Vosge’s global sensations including Oaxaca chili — pow!

by Cate

by Cate

Whenever I get the urge to travel and can’t, I know there’s a chocolatier somewhere out there I haven’t explored yet. Miami is packed with chocolate cafés and stores, West Palm Beach… still waiting.

If you’re planning on a trip to New York Kee’s is a must. It has a solid following and reputation, and dare I say exotic flavours. Unfortunately it’s closed on weekends. Just around the corner from Kee’s (located in the HSBC building on Bryant Square) is one of Lily O’Briens, another place I posted about. Typically sweet, this chocolatier hails from Ireland, a country I didn’t realise made chocolate, go figure.

by Cate

If it weren’t for chocolatiers who think outside the square, who allow their travels to influence their work and push open the frontier of chocolate making, I would just be another person chomping on a piece of plain chocolate slowly weaning myself off because it tastes boring. Goodness is a piece of Haut Chocolate, goodness is travel.

Caffeinated Traveller

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  1. June 11, 2010 12:01 pm

    I smiled in recognition when I read about when you tasted that chocolate with 85% cocoa. It’s bitter indeed but eventually you actually get used to it. (I once ate several pieces of a chocolate bar with a 90+% cocoa content.)

    Kimchi chocolate sounds good by the way. And thanks for mentioning Kee – am definitely visiting whenever I finally make it to NYC.

    Recently I bought a few bars of organic raw vegan chocolate from Lifefood. Will be interesting to see how they compare to normal milk and dark chocolate.

    • June 11, 2010 5:39 pm

      Welcome back Erica!!!
      Romanico’s claim their chocolate is vegetarian and it’s the dark stuff as well. I’m not into the excessively bitter chocolate, cook for cooking with but not nibbling on.
      Thanks for the link.

  2. Lulu permalink
    June 11, 2010 9:20 pm

    When I went to Germany, we went to a chocolate museum, and we also tried many kinds of chocolate of all tastes that ranges in different percentage of cacao. Some are indeed bitter, and tastes strange, but many are pretty good. I think I like most of German chocolate so far
    Thanks Cate:-)
    Having read your post made me want to try more chocolate all over the world:D

    • June 12, 2010 11:14 am

      Can’t say I have tried German chocolate, only their licorice. Lulu it is time for you to take a tour de Chocolat and I’ll join you.

      • Lulu permalink
        June 14, 2010 12:01 am

        Yep, I’ll be glad to:-)
        Chocolate is indeed my favourite ever!

  3. June 12, 2010 5:30 am

    I loved the chocolate shops in New York – went to Kee’s in Soho and had kaffir lime chocolate (among others!) and also really loved Mast Brothers in Williamsburg – – run by two cool bearded brothers. We had a block of their dark chocolate with sea salt and truffle oil – soooo good, and gorgeous packaging too.

    • June 12, 2010 11:13 am

      Those combinations all sound goooood! Love kaffir lime in anything. I’ve heard good things about Williamsburg, a must for me. Thanks Liz.

  4. June 12, 2010 11:18 am

    Nice photos, Cate! I am craving that piece with the chili peppers!

    • June 12, 2010 9:32 pm

      Heather hello! By all means go get some of that chili chocolate, it’s like a burst of heat mixed with creamy dark yum. Hard to describe until you try it.

  5. June 14, 2010 2:00 am

    I think I have just discovered heaven in your blog. Two of my reasons for living; chocolate and coffee. Bliss.
    Have you tried the pure cacao beans. They are a bit intense but give you the most sublime hit. All those feel good endorphins crashing around in the brain. Yum. A bit of an acquired taste but worth persevering. Alternatively, the nibs are a milder way to go.
    Thanks for such a wonderful post. I’ll be back for more.

    • June 14, 2010 10:54 am

      Nibs sound like my kind of thing to indulge in for good endorphins. I think I will have to hunt these down. Thanks for the info Milkfever (love your blog name).

  6. June 15, 2010 12:55 am

    I have a theory that if you put spice or chilli in chocolate, it nulls the fat and sugar content 😉 Your photo of the chocolate with chilli flakes has given me a sudden craving!

    • June 15, 2010 9:59 am

      That’a a theory worth believing in, perhaps it has something to do with metabolism?

  7. June 15, 2010 4:28 am

    Yes yes yes. They are such a delight – although, it does take some courage to try some of the different flavours!

    • June 15, 2010 10:00 am

      Ms N are there any chocolate specialties in India?

  8. June 24, 2010 5:48 pm

    love the pics!

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