Sunday 28 February 2010

I Blame Hannah II- The Canberra Haul

The seeds planted by Hannah recently bore fruit. We did a recent short trip to Canberra to see the Masterpieces from Paris exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. A seondary aim was to load up on heretofore unknown goodies. And so it was that we made a pilgrimage to As Nature Intended at Belconnen Markets as our first stop on the way into Canberra.

Compared to the amazing items that Hannah finds I was somewhat disappointed with the more humble treasures that I found. Still there was the Thrill of the Unknown. (I can't manage to upload a rotated image, grrrr) This is what I found at As Nature Intended.

I kept trawling through Canberra looking for rare gems, but they avoided my grasp on the whole. We also went to Urban Food but came away empty handed. The best haul of the trip was actually made in the most surprising location. Perhaps chocolate is somewhat like love- you find it when you're not looking for it. So imagine my surprise whilst browsing the gift shop at the National Museum of Australia to find a range of chocolates from The Curious Chocolatier, a local company in Canberra, that I now discover is run by an ex-nurse. Sensible move that. And what a glorious looking packaging she has made. Very distinctive and eye catching. Thankfully I was intrigued and bought a few bars.

But I didn't try these ones first. I decided to try the Belconnen haul first. First up, the Cocoa Camino White with Nibs (Blanc aux Eclats), a confusing chocolate which appears to be from a Canadian company and a Swiss manufacturer. I'd been reading Hannah's posts about nibs, and she's certainly a fan, and so of course I was intrigued. I'd never heard of nibs til recently so I jumped at the chance to buy some.

Sadly, it wasn't the revelation that I was hoping for. The white chocolate was a bit soft and soapy. I found the nibs to be a bit tasteless, though I freely admit that I don't know how nibs should taste, and I still think that that is true for me even after eating this bar. To me they contributed more texture than taste to the experience. I nibbled a solitary nib by itself and there was no real taste, and certainly not a chocolate taste, it could have been a piece of pine cone.

Onto the next experience, which was one that I wasn't really expecting. But one that I should have if only I had read the wrapper properly before I bought it, not after I took the first bite. Dagoba Organic Chocolate Prima Materia 100%. 100%! That's the bit I didn't notice in my buying frenzy in the shop. I usually don't like chocolate much more than 70%, and here I was unwittingly buying 100% (and the unsweetened bit was in even smaller print. Oh man).

I'm not quite sure who the target audience for this chocolate is, but it certainly isn't me. I was unable to even complete the first bite. I had to spit it out into the garbage! I still have a near full bar for anyone looking to replicate my experience and tell me how bad my palate actually is. Do it. Take on the challenge.....

I found a chocolate review site where some people with a clearly more educated palate than mine recorded vastly different experiences with this particular piece of "chocolate". "Mind blowing intensity", maybe that's what made my tongue shrivel and curl when the first microns landed on it? It does look glossy I will give them that.

Oh, but this bit, puts my urgh, spit slightly more eloquently:
Texture is likewise completely off the mark for a 100%: instead of the smooth and silken mouthfeel one expects there is instead a dry and gritty pastiness that further exacerbates already astringent qualities.

Sounds delicious doesn't it?? I guess one must suffer on the road to enlightenment, but I didn't think it would be this severe, and this soon into the journey.

The last of the Belconnen Trio was actually the last chocolate that I tried. I ate all the Curious Chocolatier one first because I was scared of opening this one. Scared. Rice milk. Just seems wrong. Mind you I guess if I was vegan I'd be happy with "chocolate" made with rice milk. But curiosity didn't kill the cat for nothing.

Still can't upload rotated photo from iphoto. Grrrr.

So Rice Milk Chocolate. It was actually better than I expected. It had a pleasing snap. And quite a snap. I'm sure the chocolate purists would Not Be Pleased. A pleasing snap is a reassuring sign that one has stumbled onto a superior chocolate, and here we have rice milk chocolate making a definite audible snap. So far so good, but how is it to eat? The taste was unusual, and there was something in the back palate or the texture that I really couldn't pin down. It was odd, and somewhat unsettling but not entirely unpleasant.

In the interests of me ever getting this post finished I'm going to upload it now. You will have to wait however long it takes me to get to reporting on my stash from The Curious Chocolatier.....(sadly though they are all gone, if you come round, you only get the 100%)


Kristen said...

The 100% sounds ghastly. But then I've discovered I'm generally happy with cheap chocolate, philistine that I am. The Curious Chocolatier wrappers are gorgeous though and I'll be disappointed if they aren't as lovely tasting as they are in looks.

Hannah said...

The nibs definitely should have a taste, so I'm sad that was your first experience! L-Izzle from my blog recently tried the Camino and found it lacking too.

ACK!! I wish I could have warned you off that Dagoba!! It's revolting, and I think utterly, utterly tasteless. But I promise you that not all 100s are like that. The Pralus tastes divine, and one could never guess it had no sugar.

I love The Curious Chocolatier, and do believe you'll have more positive things to say about them. I've actually got notes and photos for those too - you're beating me to it :) I'm also envious becaue you look to have found a seasonal one that wasn't out when I was home...

Sue T said...

Ah, I was going to say that I didn't think Hannah liked that 100% either, but I see she's on the ball, ahead of the game, and generally here first!

And, aren't those Curious Chocolatier wrappers just gorgeous. You could get them and some other chocolates at Manuka Fine Foods, but unfortunately they were burnt out last year and it looks like they are not going to reopen (at least by those owners) so I didn't tell you about them.

(BTW Why can't I post here as my real blog identity the way I can on other Blogger blogs?)

Louise said...

Kristen, the 100% is really ghastly.

Hannah- I don't know if I'll be brave enough to attempt another 100% anytime soon. I was excited to see that the Curious Chocolatier is setting up a mail order site this month. And there has to be some advantage to being in Canberra and not Paris. I was in Mona Vale today, and found some other new treasures! None sampled yet, but some intriguing (and expensive) stuff.

Sue- I don't think I've got any particular or unique settings. I'll check. It does say it doesn't allow anonymous comments, but then you're not trying to be anonymous, are you?

Louise said...

Sue, I just enabled Show Email Post Links. I'm not quite sure what that means, but we'll see if that changes anything, or solves your problem.

Camille said...

The quality (or lack thereof) definitely shows in a 100% bar, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend eating them straight for most people. It's a rather particular taste that few people can really appreciate. That said, not all 100%s are ghastly. But if you ever come across Marcolini 100%, stay away! It's terrible.

p.s. I'd love it (as would many people who use other blogging platforms) if you could enable OpenID.

Louise said...

HI Camille, Thanks for taking the time to look at my blog and leave your comment. I was wary of the 100%, I knew it was something that I probably wouldn't like, but I wasn't quite prepared for the experience! I'd certainly be even more cautious in the future. Sorry about the problem with comments. Sue (Hannah's mum) had asked me about that too, but in my state of sheer ignorance, I didn't know what to change the settings to. I think I've enabled open id today (though they don't make it easy, 10 minutes of searching later.....). I've taken a few peeks at your blog, and am following it with google reader, it's such a wonderful resource for those of us planning a trip to Paris. How I'm going to fit it all in to two weeks- I have no idea!