Thursday, February 3, 2011

Michel Cluizel makes heavenly chocolate sent from above (well, from Venezuela at least)

If there is anything that I have learned from my years of chocolate tasting, it's this rule: DO NOT WASH YOUR HANDS WITH A FRUITY SMELLING SOAP JUST BEFORE TASTING CHOCOLATE. Because no matter what chocolate you are tasting, you will only taste and smell fruit flavour! The same goes for any strong smelling soap - just don't use it for awhile before tasting chocolate.  I am facing that problem today.  I've re-rinsed my hands so many time now that I've lost count, I can still smell that darn soap as I'm trying to put the chocolate in my mouth! So the best I can do is to just pop a piece into my mouth and then hold my hands behind my back and as far away from my face as possible while I taste. It seems to get the smell out of the way while I taste the chocolate, if not the memory of it.

That aside, the chocolate I am tasting today is a Michel Cluizel Chocolatier Paris chocolate bar called 1er CRU de PLANTATION Concepcion NOIR Venezuela - which basically means it is a "premiere" or "first" plantation chocolate bar, made from cocoa of one specific plantation in Venezuela. According to the package, the cocoa plantation is from the valley of Barlovento and made from Caranero cocoa beans.  There are supposed to be hints of vanilla (duh, they add vanilla to the chocolate so how could one tell there is a hint of it in the beans?), caramel and honey spice cake.  I personally tasted just hints of woodsy, rustic-flavoured chocolate with a sweet, chocolaty taste.

It is also very smooth in the mouth, but there are tiny small crunchy bits of something that resemble sugar crystals in each piece. I don't mind that though, it's a textural element that only adds to the experience. The vanilla is so mild that it just blends right in and there is just a wonderful taste of chocolate when eating this bar.

This chocolate bar is a favourite of mine.  It doesn't matter to me that I spent just over $10 Canadian for a mere 70 grams at La Fromagerie in Sudbury, Ontario, I still ate it faster than most of the other chocolate that I taste.  I also finished the whole thing within two days, unlike nearly all of the other chocolate bars that I taste (most sit in a cupboard, neatly wrapped in Ziplock bags collecting dust until I get the urge to make several small batches of truffle with them). I am also impressed that Michel Cluizel has managed to make such a great chocolate bar while leaving the soy lecithin out of the ingredients. They also have a guarantee on the back of the package that there is no soy in the product. So for all of those people allergic to soy out there, this chocolate bar is for you.

Michel Cluizel is the absolute definition of "fine chocolate". The company pays attention to the detail, the beans, and the regions they come from and they follow a traditional method of treating the beans - a method that has been used since 1902.  And they are based in France, a country where the people know good chocolate and have high standards for it.

I am very pleased with my chocolate tasting today, but very sad that I just ate the last piece of this wonderful chocolate bar.  Here are the full details on the Michel Cluizel bar that I tasted today:

Michel Cluizel Chocolatier Paris 1er CRU de PLANTATION Concepcion NOIR Venezuela, 70 g
Michel Cluizel, Paris, France
Ingredients (Dark Chocolate 66% cocoa minimum): cocoa, cane sugar, cocoa butter, bourbon vanilla pod. May contain traces of shelled tree nuts, milk and gluten.  Product of France.

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