Seriously Tasting Chocolate
A congenial group of chocoholic bloggers, authors and publishers slowly gathered around a farm size table as the wait staff at 2Beans lined up four wine glasses, a prosecco glass and a water glass. Within moments they also lowered plated chocolate squares and bon bons within our reach. Since it was 6:30 PM, I could not decide whether the chocolate & wine tasting would be snack or dinner. In the end it was dinner. I skipped the wine to save my calories for the chocolate. As the prosecco warmed everyone up from the winter night, we met Chocolate Noise blog writer Megan Giller, science editor Roxanne Khamsi, and on line publisher, Jeffrey Dryfoos, and others. We each vied for the best phone shots of the sweet table.
Presenter Clay Gordon’s chocolate expertise oozed out of his pores especially his forearm tattooed with the word “cacao.” Quite a clear proclamation of his passion. He confidently guided us through the gustatory fun and only occasionally had to assert command to regain attention of the chocolate and wine besotted group.
Gordon plied us with both new and familiar brands. Samples of known brands included new product lines. He encouraged us to consider Josef Albers teachings about color to inform our our sense of the complexities of flavor and smell. Despite the tremendous amount of wine poured during the evening, he cautioned that beer and chocolate pairings work better since each food results from a fermenting process.
Rococo’s white chocolate with cardamom was less offensive than I expected. The fruity flavor of Dick Taylor’s bar of 74% Dominican delighted everyone. I found the Durci bar of Dominican cocoa beans less evocative of the baked brownie that Gordon suggested.
All along we peppered Gordon with questions: What makes a milk chocolate (a milk powder, condensed milk or a chemical derived from milk)? What is the best chocolate (Bonnat in his opinion)? Is chocolate healthy? (In less processed forms such as natural cocoa powder or cocoa nibs). What is the best milk chocolate? (Gordon prefers a milk chocolate in the 59-69% range due to its fuller flavor and texture).
Without delving into a recent, much publicized bean-to-bar controversy around a well known craft chocolate company in Brooklyn, Gordon advised people to “take back the taste.” That is, that we rely on our perceptions rather than what experts say. Indeed the evening of tasting, according to Gordon, intended to do just that: Clarify more fully what we like and what we don’t like. There was a lot to like.
The tasting was topped off with a one of a kind liqueur, Solbeso, distilled from the pulp of the cocoa pod.
2Beans, a New York City café and chocolate shoppe, ensconced the tasting perfectly with its spacious loft seating and ample chocolate to peruse. Zakaria El Ammari, Operations Director, carefully curates the coffee and chocolate selections. Their chocolate bars and bon bons span price point, countries of origin and brands.
After a couple of hours, although people were high on sugar and wine, Gordon insisted on bringing us all back together to conclude. He mused: “The chocolate life has become a metaphor for connecting to passion, a driver for professional and personal growth to inspire chocolate life in others.”
I know exactly what he means.
Choco-dar first erupted on our multi-country circuit of Europe in a VW van. That adult onset, self-diagnosed radar for chocolate experiences led us serendipitously to many wonderful chocolate discoveries and surprises. In the process I learned some chocolate travel tips. Chocolate travel generated the book and the website that I came to call On theRead more ›
Mothers and Survival by Chocolate
On the Chocolate Trail, I found amazing stories of mothers and chocolate from World War II. Immigrant Lisa Hoffman reminisced about how her mother insured she had the skills, including chocolate making, to survive. “I carried inside of me all of the lessons my mother had worked so hard to get for me. I could makeRead more ›
Chocolate Trail Broadens: “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” Travels
I am very excited that the NYCs Bernard Museum exhibit, “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” based on my book, On the Chocolate Trail, will now be forging new paths as it travels around the country. We selected On the Chocolate Trail as the book title for a number of reasons. First, it evokes the diffusion ofRead more ›
Talking Chocolate in February
Recent media featured projects on the chocolate trail in celebration of Valentine’s Day and “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” at the Bernard Museum, NYC. Of course, Florence Fabricant’s mention of the exhibit in the New York Times was a highlight. Now, these stories just within the last two weeks: In The Jewish Love AffairRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- Announcing Second Edition: On the Chocolate Trail
- Bat Mitzvah Wants Fair Trade Israeli Chocolate
- Book Optioned: Museum Exhibit
- Chocolate Exhibit Hits the New York Times
- Chocolate Expo
- Chocolate Made My Lunch: Nashville
- Chocolate, Coffee, Tea and Me
- Election 2016: Winning Fudge Brigadeiros
- Hunting for Chocolate: Fancy Food Show, NYC, 2016
- Local Chocolate in the South
- No End to Chocolate Exhibits Part III: Visits #3, 4 & 5
- Of Chocolate Exhibits There is No End: Part 2
- On the Chocolate Trail in Brooklyn
- Seriously Tasting Chocolate
- Super Food Chocolate for Super Bowl Sunday: Three Recipes
- Talking Chocolate in February
- That Time Jews Smuggled Chocolate to France — and a Recipe for Basque Chocolate Cake
- Warm Up: 3 Historical Drinking Chocolate Recipes