Wednesday 26 May 2010

I still blame Hannah III- The Mona Vale Haul

It's only been a few short months since the lovely Hannah upset my tepid suburban world. It seems particulary unfair that one so young should have such a developed palate, and a wealth of experience. Trying to replicate it from the rural heartland of NSW is pretty tricky. Every trip to the supermarket is now a disappointment. But I've given it a crack. I'm sure Paris will change this. Till I get to Paris, I shall have to make do with Mona Vale and Canberra. Pretty exotic.

Travelling to Mona Vale on a day trip for work I of course, made use of the time and checked out the providores shop that I remembered at the top of the shopping centre. And it paid dividends. Variable dividends, but there was still the thrill of the chase. And I managed to bag three chocolates from three different countries- France, Belgium and the USA.

Firstly to France. And actually to the Perigord. We went there on our travels in 1998 and it was an amazing area. The home of truffles, foie gras and magnificent scenery. And also home to Bovetti. There were a few of the companies products to choose from (I can't remember what now, my blogging is so slow that this trip was actually a few months ago, and disappearing into the mists of time). I chose the Premium Milk Chocolate with Caramel and Fleur de Sel. I do love Caramel, and may well have picked this one without Hannah's undue, subversive influence. We had Salted butter caramels in France, and they live on in my memory as an extraordinary experience. But all that talk of salt and chocolate was too much to bear. It had to be done.

Sadly it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

It wasn't bad by any stretch- that is still to come, but the caramel flavour lingered longer than that of the chocolate and sadly the salt made a barely perceptible contribution. Perhaps that is the point and I just don't know enough to appreciate it. Perhaps my palate isn't educated enough to appreciate it. With correctly seasoned food you don't taste the salt, you just taste more of the food. Is this supposed to be the same? Hopefully France will hold all the answers next month.

The second bar I tried was a Ghirardelli 60% Intense Dark Evening Dream. A famous American chocolate company based in San Francisco I believe. At least I think I remember it from there, many many years ago.

And this was nice. It had a mild snap, and was too soft, but was glossy and smooth, with a hint of madagascan vanilla. The taste lingered reasonably well in the mouth. Mr Wicker and I both enjoyed this but thought that $8.95 was a bit much for what was an essentially nice, but not particularly memorable chocolate. Not worth the food miles on the whole.

Lastly, but by no means least was the experience of Dolfin. A Belgian Milk chocolate flavoured with Green Tea from Japan. I wondered about this pairing. Is it a mistake? Surely it must be really nice if they're going to put two rather obviously odd flavours together like this? I know Green Tea is Big Right Now, does that excuse everything? Is my non-tea-drinker status clouding my vision? Is it ridiculous to pay $4.50 for 30 grams of chocolate?

YES as it turns out. I Really Didn't Like this chocolate. Not quite as much as the 100% debacle from Canberra. I didn't have to spit it out. But awful nonetheless. It sits half eaten in our cupboard to this day. I find it rather ironic that a company that subtitles its product with The Art of Blending should have created this. There is no blending of the tea. I guess I was expecting that it would be green tea powder mixed in with the bar to create a smooth product. Instead this had grassy, dry bits of tea, indeed more reminiscent of chaff that brought memories of my teenage girl horsey stage flooding back. It makes a rather unpalatable mouth feel. The green tea was overpowering, not a subtle flavour note at all. Mr Wicker couldn't eat his piece. I soldiered on through my one piece in the name of scientific research and endeavour. The dogs liked it without reservation.

I am now uncertain as to how much green tea stuff I should try in France. I'd been presuming that I would try a green tea macaron. David Leibovitz somewhat sensibly advises to avoid the new and trendy flavours, he feels that they are hit and miss, and prefers to chose the classic flavours. It certainly is true that classics are often classics for a reason isn't it? We shall see.


Hannah Stoneham said...

Hhmmmm I haven't been to Perigord, although I live in France. Will have to give it a try. Lovely piece, thank you for sharing


Louise said...

Oh I'm so absolutely green with envy Hannah. How long have you lived in France? What area do you live? I hope you get to travel to the Perigord some time soon. Although I'm sure there are just so many places to go. I dream of living in France, and although it's not the most practical dream for an Australian mired in the mortgage stage of life it's still a nice dream. I'm taking my second ever trip to Paris next month. It's 12 years since we were there and I've forgotten pretty much all the French I ever knew, but I'm still so looking forward to it of course.

Anonymous said...

I love Green Tea flavour Louise but I think I've tried this chocolate and was disappointed. I'd give Green tea macarons a go though. I think it goes better with a lighter base such as cream or icecream. I love Green tea icecream, and Green Tea jelly can be very nice too. Matcha (the powdered variety) is the best flavour, Sencha, is the leaf variety.

Hannah said...

While reading this... I laughed, I clapped, and ultimately I refused to repent for subversively egging on your quests for chocolate greatness. I'm also terribly excited because, Louise, you've beaten me to the chase! I have five different Bovetti chocolates in my stash, including the caramel one, so you ought to feel high and mighty for one-upping me!

With salt and chocolate, you do want to taste the salt though, so it spounds like this is a bit of a fail. I agree with you about the second chocolate - that brand is pleasant but not worth the exorbitant (importation-influenced) price.

I've also tried the Dolfin and as I don't really mind the "bitsiness" of it, I wasn't as averse. Flavourwise the Jasmine Tea one is better, though still bitsy, and while I like the masala milk chocolate and the cardamom dark, they're just WAY too expensive for 30g. Yay, I loved reading this! Well done with the hunt, Louise!

Louise said...

Mrs Gums I do like subtle Japanese green tea. Last year I tried the great green tea hunt of 2009. I didn't find a brand that I liked at home. Restaurant ones are often nice. The green tea bags you can buy for home so often seem to taste like chaff. I don't mind the smell of chaff, but I don't really want to drink it.

Louise said...

Thanks Hannah (the originator). I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I'm definitely pleased (and somewhat amazed let me say) that I beat you to chase with the Bovetti. I'd spied one in one of your massed suitcase pictures, and thought that it was all over red rover. I'll of course be interested to see what you think when you get to it. I would be interested in the Dolfin masala and cardamon. Maybe they'll be cheaper in Europe? I'm looking forward to Singapore. They have an Askinosie shop that I'm planning to search out at some stage early on.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that's good re Green Tea. I'm not to big a fan of Green Tea bags either I must say, though I do use Twinings Green Tea with Lemon tea bags to make a pleasant summer iced tea.

Kath Lockett said...

You're a terrific writer, Louise and even though the chocolates disapointed you (I've tried the last two and felt the same as you), I wish you better luck in your next posh choc shop!

Louise said...

Thanks for your kind words Kath. I have had a few posh chocs recently, but haven't got to blogging about them obviously. I'll have to try and get to them soon.