Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chocolat Michel Cluizel Could Actually Make Me Really Like Chocolate

Last night, the lovely wife and I had a really excellent time at a chocolate bar. I find this sort of amusing as I have never been a big fan of either chocolate or bar. But the tasting party we went to at Chocolat Michel Cluziel in ABC Carpet (888 Broadway at 19th Street, NY, NY 10019) really made me appreciate the stuff. We were invited by our downtown friends, who really know how to throw a party! While I will not give up my morning coffee for chocolate as the proprietor has done, I now have a new appreciation for chocolate. And despite my initial skepticism, you can really taste the difference in the various chocolates we tried.

Michel Cluziel started out in Normandy, and their factory is still there. The company has an interesting website, but turn your speakers down as it has its own (annoying) soundtrack. Their NYC chocolate store is in ABC Carpet (according to the French Website Broadway is "one of the most prestigious avenues in NYC!). The space itself is open and inviting. It looks a lot less corporate than many of the chocolate stores I have been in in NYC. It also feels roomy, a rarity as well.

We spent our evening trying various type of chocolate paired with a variety of liquor. Yes, its called a "chocolate bar" for a reason: they have a liquor license! The proprietor told us that he needed to get the license to sell the Michael Cluziel cherry bonbon, which is made with Kirsch. In case you ever thought bonbons were sticky over sweet and just generally goopy, you need to try this one: it is the only piece of fruit candy that I have ever coveted.

After the bonbon, our lessons in chocolate began! It turns out there are in fact three different type of cocoa beans: Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. Forastero beans represent 90%+ of world production and are considered to be the least flavorful. Criollo beans, which represent 1-5% of world production are considered the best, but are difficult to grow and thrive only in limited areas. Trinitario beans are hybrids of Forastero's and Trinitarios.

Much of the chocolate we tried was of "single origin:" grown in a specific country with a specific type of bean or even on a single plantation! There really was a different taste to the different types of chocolate. A show of hands showed that there was a wide variety of opinions as to which chocolates were our favorites. Which I interpret as a good reason to try them all.

My person favorite: "Noir 72% Blended Dark Chocolate." You can go to the store and discover your own. Although the stuff isn't cheap, if you like chocolate, its clearly worth it. Look out for baked goods (from a very famous NY dessert family) soon, too. And, of course, there is a bar!

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