Results tagged Taza from David Lebovitz

Nunu Chocolates from Brooklyn, in Paris

chocolates filled with salted butter caramel

A few years ago an American friend asked me about opening a pop-up store in Paris, featuring something he creates with chocolate in New York City. At the time, I advised against it. People outside of the United States do have some preconceived notions about how Americans eat (many still think we all eat at fast-food restaurants), but a recent wave of magazine articles about food in America, small restaurants in Paris with America-trained chefs and owners, and most importantly, people traveling to the United States and seeing the astounding produce at the greenmarkets, I’d like to think has caused a shift in thinking.

chocolate tools

So I was excited to see that Nunu Chocolates from Brooklyn had set up a space in the Brachfeld Gallery in the Marais here in Paris, for a temporary pop-up shop featuring their chocolates.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate

Mexican hot chocolate

I was a little perplexed as to what constitutes authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate. Thankfully a reader from Mexico explained to me that unlike other hot chocolate “drinks” in the Mexican repertoire, it traditionally was a mixture of cocoa beans and sweetener. Yet nowadays folks generally use sweet chocolate bars as a base, which are made from coarsely ground chocolate with a dose of cinnamon and sugar, and sometimes almonds, and are conveniently sold in tablets or bars in Mexican shops.

That chocolate bears a passing resemblance to the coarse chocolate that Mexicans have been grinding up in metates for thousands of years (which I think is why Mexican women have those power shoulders), and today you can find Mexican chocolate quite a bit slicker than the stuff that was (and still is, in some places) pounded for hours and hours. Although I’m not Mexican in any way, I have a deep love of anything edible, and drinkable, that’s Mexican—from horchata, to the twirly green bottle of citrusy Squirt soda that are fun to swill on a Mexican beach, along with a basket of chips and some spicy roasted chili salsa. Or guacamole. Or duck tacos. Or ceviche. Or all of them.

Mexican chocolate cinnamon sticks

The chocolate used nowadays for hot chocolate is classified in America as “Sweet Chocolate”, which is different than what we label as bittersweet or semisweet chocolate.

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Taza Chocolate

tazahotchocolate2

I’ve been a little lax in my duties around here reporting on chocolate. In my defense, I’ve been sidetracked by bacon, seaweed, and kimchi. But man cannot live by chocolate alone.

Even in Paris.

Speaking of chocolate, when I was doing research for my chocolate book, it was challenging to find people to talk about what they do. I met with one representative from a big chocolate company who said he would only talk to me, and let me visit, if I only wrote about their company in the book. (Uh…sure!)

When I was writing my ice cream book, I called a gelato chain here in Paris, asking if I could come in and see how they make their ice cream to include them in the book. After much hemming and hawing, I never heard back.

It’s always after the book comes out, you become a popular fellow. I seem to be always behind the curve on these things.

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Chocolatiers and Chocolate-Makers

The other night I was having dinner in a restaurant, and struck up a conversation with the fellow dining at the next table, who turned out to be Swiss. As we talked, the conversation turned to what I did and when I replied that I wrote cookbooks on baking and chocolate. His curiosity was piqued…as well as that of the two Belgian women at the other table.

I knew exactly where the conversation soon would be heading, and of course, I was asked the inevitable question: “Which country do you think makes the best chocolate?”

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Belgian Chocolates

In all honestly, it’s really a pointless question. What if I asked; “What country makes the best wine?” Well, you might answer that there are great wines made in Italy, France, the United States, Switzerland, Germany, etc. And there are lousy wines made in all those countries too.

But is there one country quantitatively better than at making wine than another? Is there some formula that one can follow to show who wins the mantle of Best Winemaking Country in the World? Perhaps one could argue that the soil in one county is better than another, or the weather, or maybe other factors. But for making chocolate couverture, pure, solid chocolate, most of the time the cocoa beans aren’t grown in the countries where chocolate is produced, with a few exceptions.

And is there really a country that makes the Best Chocolate In The World?
Is there some competition going on that no one told me about?

So I answered, “The best chocolate in the world is made in the United States.”

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Theo Chocolate, Hand-Made In Seattle

The man was surprised, and the two women started rolling their eyes and laughing. And my French dining companion just smirked at me, since he knows that I said that matter-of-factly as well, just to irk them. But seriously, I don’t know what was so funny. Maybe they were laughing at themselves for not realizing that there’s very good chocolate produced in the United States.

How silly of them; what were they thinking?

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