Results tagged chocolatiers from David Lebovitz

Fouquet

I’m not sure if there’s a French term that’s the equivalent of “phone tag.” I’m pretty sure there isn’t one for “internet tag”, but I can say with relative certainty that there isn’t one in English. At least I think there isn’t.

I’d met Frédéric Chambeau’s father about five years ago and he graciously invited me to visit their laboratoire in Paris, but hadn’t heard back after our last bout of telephone messages. Then I got an e-mail from Frédéric, who’d taken over Fouquet, and after a few months of back-and forth messages, we finally kicked it into gear and made a date.

I don’t think there’s a comparable expression for “kick into gear”, but it wouldn’t be the first time I got something wrong in French. Or in English, if you want to get picky about it.

pâtes de fruits

Fouquet is one of the oldest confectioners in Paris, and one of the last remaining who makes their candies and chocolates in their own shop, which is tucked away on a sidestreet near Drouot, the main auction house of Paris. Speaking of terms, when I asked him what “fouquet” meant, he told me it’s an old French term for squirrels, but didn’t know how the business took the name. (There’s a fancy-schmancy restaurant on the Champs-Elysées with the same name, but there’s no connection to them.)

fouquet orangettes

When I visited Fouquet, it was just before the Christmas crush and the staff was in full swing, wrapping boxes of all sorts of treats, including colorful pâtes de fruits, orangettes (candied orange strips dipped in dark chocolate), and hand-wrapped squares of buttery salted caramel.

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Jacques Genin Opens in Paris

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To those of you who’ve been writing and pleading to get into the laboratory of Jacques Genin, the most elusive chocolatier in Paris, the wait is over. After years of jumps and starts, he’s finally opening his boutique in Paris, which is open to the public.

(Previously, one had to call, or just show up at his workshop in the 15th arrondissement, and hope he had a moment in his frantic schedule.)

So his dream is finally a reality—and what a dream it is!

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Healthy Hershey’s

I don’t like to stir things up too much around here. Last time I did that, I got my ass kicked in the comments. Truth be told, I’m a people-person and try to see the good in everything and everybody no matter what.

Heck, I’m even listening to Up With People! as I’m typing right now…

I don’t like to trash people or companies in general. But sometimes, every once in a while, someone needs to get their pee-pee smacked.

And in this case, it’s Hershey’s.

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Normally I make it a point to eat the best-quality chocolate I can since the good stuff has the same amount of calories as the bad stuff. Because I live in Paris, depending on how you feel about it, I don’t eat much Hershey’s chocolate. But when you have a blog, no matter where you like, you get ‘sales pitches’ from pr folks wanting to send you products to that they hope you’ll mention favorably on your blog. I like to try new American products and since I don’t live where they’re easily found, I let the ones that sound interesting come my way.

But one French company insisted (repeatedly, against my better judgment) on sending me a food basket of goodies a while back.

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La Maison du Chocolat

Don’t hate me when I tell you this: Last week I was invited to La Maison du Chocolat.

But not just to one of their swanky boutiques in Paris, the marble-lined, cocoa-hued temples where people flock to worship at the alter of founder Robert Linxe. (And yes, you can count me as one of the converted.) Instead I was invited to tour their chocolate production laboratoire just outside the city.

La Maison du Chocolat

Descending the RER train in the nondescript suburb of Nanterre, we finally came upon a beige building that was scrupulously clean; we knew we’d arrived at le mothership.

Robert Linxe, who was born in the Basque region and founded La Maison du Chocolat, was one the major proponents of using ganache in his chocolates; that slightly-airy amalgamation of chocolate and cream. Then he went on to develop a flavor palette of ganache-based chocolates…and the rest is one of the most successful stories in chocolate history.

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Chocolate Tasting

The problem around here is that I buy chocolate in 5 kilo, about 11#, boxes and every afternoon, and sometimes (ok…make that ‘often’…) first thing in the morning, I dig my hand deep in the box and pull out a few pistols every time I walk by. People have the impression that I eat chocolate all the time, every day. And although I usually deny it, I would have to admit it’s definitely true.

Except last night when I was flossing, part of one of my teeth flew out and plinked onto the floor. So today it’s like eating and talking with a thumb tack in my mouth, and I’m having a rare, chocolate-free day.

Who knew it was possible to floss to hard? Does that make me a ‘power-flosser’?

(When I called my dentist, I was stumped trying to figure out the verb ‘to floss’ in French. Ça existe?)

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Anyhow, in addition to the little palets of dark chocolate I’m always dipping into, I also have tons of unusual chocolate bars around here I’ve been amassing over the past few months.

Many I pick up when traveling, and some I get sent by companies wanting me to try them out. I happily sample them all and love to find something new or especially unusual. Often I taste them systematically by sitting down, snapping off a corner and savoring the flavors. As I roll and chew the chocolate around in my mouth, I ponder the different characteristics, noting origin and the various flavors: Sweet, fruity, acidic, roasty, bitter, citrusy, woodsy—all the various tastes we find in chocolate.

And other times, I’m not so good and I rip off the covering and start gnawing away at the chocolate until it’s nothing but an empty wrapper with a few crumbs of chocolate left. I never did well in science since I’m lacking in patience.

So during the next few weeks, it’s your turn to be patient.

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Patrick Roger Chocolate: All I Want For Christmas

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That’s the new one meter box of chocolates from Patrick Roger, over three feet of pralines, caramels, nougats, and creamy-smooth ganache-filled bonbons, all enrobed in ultra-dark bittersweet chocolate.

I don’t know how someone would brave getting one of those home on the métro, but I’d surely appreciate their efforts if I found one under my tree!

Patrick Roger
108, Boulevard St. Germain (6th)
Tel: 01 43 29 38 42

Domori Chocolate

Gianluca Franzoni is the master chocolatier at Domori. He’s the person who is responsible for selecting the beans and roasting them to perfection. Cacao beans, like coffee, need to be roasted to bring out their flavor. Domori uses no vanilla in their chocolate, unlike other chocolate companies, since Gianluca believes that vanilla masks some of the flavors he coaxes out of the beans to make his chocolate. I immediately liked him because of his dedication to making truly fine chocolate….(and perhaps because his shirt would match the colors of my web site.) Aside from making great chocolate, the Italians really know how to dress.

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As you can imagine, Domori is a chocolate company that is rather revolutionary…and in a country that’s no stranger to revolutions. If you’ve been to Italy, you know the Italians are lively, creative, wonderful people. And they’re not afraid to do things a bit differently.

When Gianluca told me that Domori chocolates were so smooth that even the 100% bar of unsweetened chocolate, called Puro, was not the least bit bitter, (even without the sugar,) I frankly didn’t believe him. But Puro was indeed great. It’s made from 100% Sur Del Lago beans, which is used in some of the best chocolates I’ve tasted. For the hard-core chocolophiles, crunchy dark Ocumare cacao beans, known as Kashaya, are roasted whole and meant to be eaten just as they are. I mean, what kind of people pack up whole roasted cocoa beans and for hard-core chocolate-lovers to eat? The same people who brought us gelato, gianduiotti, and panna cotta.

As you can probably tell by now, I love Italians!

Domori is one of the few chocolate companies that actually owns their own plantations in Venezuela. Most of their beans are criollo hybrids, which is considered the best cacao available today. (The term ‘cacao’ refers to the beans used to make chocolate, and ‘cocoa’ usually refers to the powder made from the beans after they’re roasted and pulverized.)

We tried a sample of all of their chocolates, guided by Gianluca….

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Esmereladas is their chocolate made from Ecuadorian cacao, that had a surprising tropical banana-like aroma and flavor. Rio Caribe, from their Venezuelan plantation, had an earthy, musky character while the Sambirano from the island of Madagascar (where a lot of vanilla is grown) had a raisin-sweet taste and a gorgeous red hue. Perhaps the most intriguing was the Puertofino, which was made from a rare, pure Ocumare cacao, which we all agreed had a delightful creamy taste, even though it was pure bittersweet chocolate with no dairy added.

If this is making you crave Domori chocolate, you can order their chocolate (as well as Tuscan chocolates from Slitti and Amadei) online at Chocosphere.

So onward in my pursuit of more great chocolate here in Tuscany.
Next I’ll visit Slitti, which aside from blending their superb chocolates, they roast amazing coffee…which says a lot, since each time I sip an espresso in Italy, I fall into a deep trance-like state.
In the walled city of Lucca, where we’re staying, I’ve had a chance to stock up on Amadei chocolate as well. Amedei specializes in very rare cacaos, such as Chuao and Porcelana and is another of the world’s great chocolates.

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Eating in Tuscany includes focaccia flatbread permeated with olive oil and sprinkled generously with coarse salt, soup made with the Lucchese wholegrain known as farro, and I’m stockpiling delightfully bitter chestnut honey that I drizzle over toasted and buttered (salted butter, of course) levain bread. If you should ever visit Lucca, the best place to buy Tuscan foodstuffs is Antica Bodega at 31, via Santa Lucia. The wine, of course, is excellent, inexpensive, and generously poured in restaurants and enotecas.

Tomorrow I’m taking my group to a villa in the mountains for a wine and olive oil tasting before we return to Lucca to shop for local specialties at Antica Bodega, including sharp, sheeps-milk Pecorino cheese and well-aged, syrupy Balsamic vinegar, Parmesano-Reggiano and olive oil.

And of course, lots more chocolate.

Related Chocolate Links

Chocolatiers and Chocolate Makers

Theo Chocolate

Valrhona Chocolate

Chocolate FAQs

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Regis Chocolate

Patrick Roger

La Maison du Chocolat