Friday, 16 November 2012

The Chocolate Show.



Fleur de Xocoatl's New York series.

Pieces of chocolate beans.





Sunday morning in Chelsea. It’s Gabbi, Barrie and I. Armed with water bottles and non-sweet snacks. We’re on a mission. Our stomachs empty, our pants loose. We’re ready. We enter a huge pavilion, where sixty-five companies from forty countries present their chocolate products. And I don’t mean Hershey’s. I mean fine quality, handmade chocolates. Four hours of sampling. At least that’s how long we lasted.

Chocolate peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, chocolate fudge, brownies, cakes, macaroons, éclairs, truffles. Live cooking demonstrations, chocolate dresses, chocolate sculpture. You’re feeling nauseous yet? Chocolate covered bacon. Chocolate wine, which is a combination of chocolate flavour and red wine. I take a sip, feeling my knees getting weaker. Hold on, have I died? Is this heaven?

We circle around like hungry vultures on the battle field. Between the stands with No chewing allowed [1]- French truffles - I don’t need to explain, do I? ; Raw Chocolate by Gnosis - which apparently has healing properties[2], and Pralus - pistachio nuts, almonds and praline coated with milk chocolate; we find Hawaiian chocolates with salt. They make a perfect combination, like wine and cheese, like pumpkin and cinnamon, like me and a bucket if I won’t take a break soon.

We stop by Éclat Chocolate[3]. Looks like Antohny Bourdain and Eric Ripert have their own chocolate bar, called Good & Evil, which had its debut on Friday. It is made with extremely rare Peruvian cacao beans and studded with nibs. Here is part of the PR description:

Good & Evil captures the essence of the two iconic chefs’ personalities while telling the story of one of the rarest cacao trees on earth: a prized variety called Pure Nacional that was thought to be extinct for nearly a century before being rediscovered growing on small isolated farms within Peru, the only place in the world where it is found. This duality mirrors the connection between Ripert, who only sees the “good” in food, and Bourdain, who embraces the “evil” of the dark cocoa nibs. Together with Curtin, they hope Good & Evil will give everyone who tries it a sublime taste experience of the world’s rarest cacao beans.

What can I say, it is to die for. I’m at my happiest - chocolate, wine, chocolate-wine, Anthony Bourdain, Peruvian beans…I’m somewhere in between smiling and running around in ecstasy. And then I turn, and notice Him. He’s wearing a white apron, holding a bowl of chocolate in his hands. He’s saying something with this incredibly charming, familiarly sounding accent. He’s French. Of course he is. Handsome, French and Chocolatier in one sentence. Things don’t get better than this. Now, I’m in love and seriously considering proposing. I’m saved by Gabbi, her face looking paler but she’s still on top of her game. She shifts my attention to the cookies. And I mean THE cookies. I don’t even like cookies that much. But these cookies I’d marry tomorrow and have their babies. And I don’t even like babies. They’re called Oh my God Cookies and that’s exactly what we said after tasting them. They should be called The Orgasmic Cookies. We’re past the point of endorphins, happy hormones and aphrodisiacs. Here comes the dizziness. I feel my head spinning and pulse raising. I’m having difficulties speaking. I’m high. Literally, high on chocolate.

I need to breathe. I need distraction. We make another loop and meet Fleur de Xocoatl.[4]She’s a young lady from Paris, who makes probably the cutest chocolates I’ve ever seen. Four years ago she decided to change her career, and became a chocolatier. Clearly it was a great choice. Her chocolates are not only delicious (she uses pure cocoa butter and seasonal fruits) but also beautiful to look at. Each chocolate is hand painted, unique. For this years’ Chocolate Show, she designed bonbons to honor New York. In three boxes we see tiny, painted faces of Woody Allen, Audrey Hepburn, Roy Lichtenstein. They’re almost blinking at us. I’m stunned, fascinated by Fleur’s passion. The combination of sophistication, creativity, elegance and taste. This is the point where chocolate meets the art. Bon appetite!

We end up watching a presentation by Allison and Rhonda Kave[5]. A mother and a daughter, fixing Chocolate Manhattans. I can’t taste the chocolate anymore. The whiskey though is as strong as my headache will be tomorrow morning if I have two more glasses. I’m sipping on it, while Gabbi takes it as a shot. The girl can hold her liquor. And her chocolate for that matter.

Out of curiosity I bite a piece of chocolate bean. It’s really bitter, the flavour gets even more intense with the second piece. I’d ask for milk and sugar to turn it into chocolate, but I can’t take it any more.

Oh sugar, I had enough of you for the next few months.

Enough, something I never thought I’d say, about chocolate.

K.



[1] http://www.nochewingallowed.com/
[2] I tend to doubt many things, but healing properties of chocolate aren’t one of them [http://www.gnosischocolate.com/]
[3] www.eclatchocolate.com
[4] Fleur (that’s her name) de Xocoatl (the name of the nectar reserved for the Mayan gods). www.fleurdexocoatl.com/
[5] Butter&Scotch and Roni-Sue’s Chocolates.