It's Good To Be Queen
12 November 2010
I am sitting here in my apartment at the most gorgeous Agriturismo in a very underdeveloped part of Tuscany, wondering how I got here. What exactly have I done right? On the coffee table in front of me is an array of chocolate bars from the Stainer factory, just minutes from here, all mine for the tasting. I have officially been a food writer for three days, and there are enough top-tier chocolates on this table to impress even the most discerning of tastes for the finer things. And I mean FINE. In case you are wondering…Yes, it’s good to be Queen.
The first one I opened was a white chocolate raspberry bar. No, not raspberry flavor. Rasberries. Nothing artificial about this puppy. High-grade white chocolate interwoven with raspberry pieces… the whole thing spreading across my tongue with a well-rehearsed suave motion, was only the beginning. Next came the dark chocolate violet, a perfume and a chocolate. I must confess that in spite of being in Chianti country, the fondente violetta made me ache for a 2006 Syrah from Zaca Mesa, as I could close my eyes and imagine their marriage. This could be a Valentines’ Day gift to rattle the kingdom.
Out came the infantry next. Sheep’s milk chocolate. Eyes open, closed, or somewhere in between, and definitely entranced, I experienced the SOLE finest flavor I have known to date, hands-down. The first words calling to mind are “raw deep, and decadent.” But then there is the aftertaste of sour cheese, combined with the sweet, lingering milky chocolate of the smoothest variety. I can’t rightly say I’ve ever enjoyed anything more. Honestly. And thank the Lord I will be going back to the factory on Monday, because I could set off alarm bells if I don’t get some more to take home. As for the goat milk? Very strong goat cheese taste on the breath and with a clean finish. It is indeed wonderful, but with a shorter linger at the end. The sheep is the explosion, while the goat is a milder character and likely the better choice for breaking someone into the world of exotic chocolate. In either case, outstanding and unparalleled.
I am not too lofty to admit my fear, for I trust you will not view it as a sign of weakness. You see, staring me in the face at the top of the generous heap is a 70% cacoa bar of dark chocolate scotch bonnet and rum. Have you ever tasted a scotch bonnet? It makes a jabanero seem like watermelon. I have sliced one for a pepper fanatic and accidentally rubbed my eye hours later, an error that sent me begging for a needle poke next time. So how on Earth could I possibly pop a square of this into my mouth with reckless abandon? I simply cannot. I might have to post this bar to that same pepper fanatic and wait for feedback. But there are many others to explore: saffron, quinoa, white chocolate poppy seed, an assortment of liquori, praline, and coconut milk to name only a select few. And the best news is that you won’t have to pay a King’s ransom, for the average retail price of such exotic fare is 3 Euros per bar.
So, what does the Queen say? I am indeed amused.