In India you will be forgiven if you think chocolate = Cadbury. Even today, people walk into a gourmet chocolate store and ask for Cadbury as that’ss synonymous with chocolate. But what if, after your extensive travels around the globe you now can distinguish between good and not so good chcoolate? Hmmm, then we do have a challenge on our hands don’t we?
So what is good chocolate?
You don’t ever bite into a chocolate, you savour it.You just keep it in your mouth till it melts and slowly releases the rich creamy cocoa butter, cream and maybe some nuts or coffee flavouring.It is like a slow release and not a burst of flavours hitting the roof of your mouth. It will never be overly sweet. Poor quality chocolate is masked with too much sugar to hide the fact that it’s not rich in that cocoa butter feel.Fine chocolates are never too sweet and have just the right amount of balance between creaminess, flavour and sweetness.
But of course there is chocolate and there is chocolate.Enter the world of gourmet chocolate..
So where do you start ? Should we look at pralines with finely ground nuts or the velvety ganache?
How about bon-bons to get you going and of course some nougat for the ones who haven’t acquired adult tastes not to forget the truffle to keep the chocolate cravings at bay.
The piece-de-resistance is of course relegated to the mysterious dark. Most dark chocolates are not very creamy. It has more cocoa content and can be of single origin like Peru, Ecuador. Deeper into the Amazon, the better is the cocoa I guess. And of course, there is the cocoa from Madagascar, Uganda and our very own India that gets pride of place.
Last week a Master Chocolatier simply rubbished my eulogy of dark, saying it’s just the bean the roasting that’s taken too far.I was quite shocked, as my dearly held beliefs of dark chocolate were smashed to smithereens. Also, another good friend who is part of a chocolate tasting group admonished me saying that all this chocolate tasting was as pretentious as wine! But you can’t keep a good chocolate taster down for long..
So.where can you buy good chocolate in Pune and how much should it cost? Really good chocolates should cost you at least INR 800-1200 for a box of 12. A really fine piece would cost you at least INR 80.
Yes, in India we can have a good meal for that kind of money.But c’mon these are indulgences for the soul and not for the stomach.
In Pune I recommend:
1.The Luxe collection at Brugge La Chocolaterie
2.Royce at Phoenix market city
3.Chocolates at the PBC at JW Mariott
4.Leonidas if you can get your hands on it
4 The almond bar at Fantasie …..not bad.
Godiva select varieties and the nearest Godiva Chocolaterie /boutique is in Dubai which is a must visit. They also have take away coffee packs with delectable hints of chocolate that makes it an amazing combination. You can put it in your coffee filter or coffee machine back home. Ice creams are often available at a Chocolaterie. Tradition be damned!
In Bangalore I would recommend S’more which is a chocolate cafe in the heart of Indira Nagar. Fabelle from ITC is a good addition to the Indian chocolate scene. Excellent quality, limited flavours when I last checked. Available at ITC hotels only. Choco la in Delhi can be checked out too. They have their own outlets in Khan market and some other tony locations.
I also like some of the eccentric chocolate from independent chocolatiers; To experience the individual hints of natural ingredients try Earth Loaf single origin bars.They have a unit in Mysore so they probably source their cocoa from India. This chocolate tastes different. They have flavours like Gondraj lemon and organic jaggery. Tastes nothing like chocolate we know but mmmm, you can get used to it.
So where do you find all these artisinal chocolate varieties. Difficult , as it is not easily available.You sometimes find them in these small wine and cheese festivals or gourmet food markets which are held in winter. Chocolate is like wine, art, and good single malts .Fine chocolate are not meant for everybody. Only a true connoisseur can recognise and savour good chocolate.
Well ,on a philosophical note I suppose you can acquire a taste for all the good things in life. But you do need to have a fine palate to help you recognise the fine subtle hints of the various elements of nature which a good chocoate has, especially in the handcrafted varieties. But whoever said understanding should come in the way of enjoying a good piece of chocolate?!
So next time you devour a piece of chocolate think for a minute as to where it could have come from and the labour of love thats gone behind that piece. I truly believe the soul of the chocolatier is in every artisinal chocolate and yes the chocolate chooses you and never the other way around!
Glossary and disclaimer:
Artisinal chocolate: Hand made with the stamp of the chocolatier himself.
Brands mentioned here are as per their public persona. No permission has been taken to use their names. There are many more exotic handcrafted chocolatiers around the globe who can be classified under luxury.
Except for Leonidas and Godiva , chocolates mentioned here are made in India.
The views expressed in this column are strictly the Author’s
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