Chocolate not only tastes different, but it smudges differently, too! This is what we discovered at a Madascar chocolate tasting event Saturday afternoon hosted by Tom Reeves and Monique Wells of Discover Paris. A handful of tasters (the others being illustrious experts in the field of food and chocolate) were given broken chips from five different tablets, unmarked of course, to taste and rate.
Chocolate is something that I MUST have some of every single day. This may be genetic. My mother has the same addiction and as it turns out, “chocolate is the most frequently craved food in women. Many women describe themselves as chocoholics.” Scientifically speaking, a substance in chocolate called “phenylethylamine” triggers a feeling of “falling in love” and another compound called “anadamide” stimulates addictive brain receptors. In addition, when the chocolate melts on the tongue (at 97 degrees), endorphins are released from the brain providing a ‘feel good’ sensation and therefore cravings can be considered ‘real.’
One Web site calls it the “Food of the gods,” but it’s high in saturated fat. The good news is that it’s not the kind that raises cholesterol and it contains potent antioxidants — the same kinds found in red wine which prevent the bad cholesterol from causing plaque buildup in the arteries. The darker the chocolate, the more “phenols” (antioxidants) and the higher the percentage of cocoa butter, the more stearic acid (the good saturated fat). So, the more you eat of the purer, darker chocolate, the better the health benefit.
This is good news to chocolate lovers! And on top of that, chocolate is a great source of magnesium and phosphorus with a limited amount of caffeine — about one-tenth of a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, chocolate has its ‘downsides’ — kidney stones, headaches, acne, allergies, dental cavities and premenstrual syndrome — however this evidence is weak. Moderation is the key. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, ‘a bit of chocolate a day keeps the doctor away!’
Saturday, we had more than ‘just a bit.’ Chloe Doutre-Roussel, an independent expert whose business card touts her as “Chloe Chocolate Paris,” has a level of taste refinement and knowledge that was intimidating, to say the least! While there wasn’t a single one I’d reject (!), she emphatically dismissed at least one of them as being “stale” and “inedible” and “not even worth getting as a gift!” Edward Keller of “Carotte et Caviar,” “un chef chez vous” who will cook for you in your own home; and Alexandra Lynn Whisnant, a “chocolatier” for “Gâté Comme des Filles” whose creations are on sale at
Mococha (89, rue Mouffetard, 5th) clearly had taste buds more refined than my own and a great body of knowledge. My contribution to the tasting was ‘plebian,’ to say the least, but no one was complaining. We were just eating chocolate euphorically!
We rated the chocolate in appearance, aroma, texture and flavor after getting a good look at them, smelling them, breaking them, savoring them and breathing out from our noses to perceive the aromas using “retro-olfaction.” We were given a “tasting wheel” to help us identify the characteristics from spicy to fruity to woody to floral to earthy to nutty and my levels deeper within each of those categories. Did you know chocolate could have such a broad range? I didn’t!
The five chocolates ranged from 58% cocoa butter to 75%. All were packaged as bars and all made in France. I was the only one to take a bit and smudge it on the paper to evaluate its texture — which of course adds little value to the critical process, but was interesting nonetheless. As it turns out, the one with the prettiest smudge was one of the least favorites! The overall favorite among the five was the least expensive of the five, surprisingly — Michel Cluizel’s 65% bar that won the prize among us all.
The Cluizel family has a long tradition of making chocolate from when his parents ran a “patisserie” and he was an apprentice there in 1948. The shop is on rue Saint-Honoré (at number 201), but there’s a New York branch that can be found at chocolatmichelcluizel.com from which it appears you can order his chocolates.
Chocolate is a BIG subject and becoming more popular all the time. The industry is growing by leaps and bounds with sales in the billions, particularly in dark chocolate products, thanks to the publicity of its health benefits. And we can’t complain about that, now can we?
Footnote: Monique Wells of Discover Paris will be speaking February 12 at Parler Paris Après Midi on the “Keys to Mastering a Well-rounded Life.” (See Parler Paris Après Midi for more information.) In addition, she is co-hosting a 2-day event at the American Chamber of Commerce this April 11-12 called “Make Time Your Ally – Increase Your Revenue through Time Mastery” for small business owners who are feeling stuck in their businesses and need a kick start to get them moving toward finding more clients and earning more income.And prior to that, Discover Paris is offering a special, pre-event training class called “6 Simple Steps to Getting over Overwhelm” that requires early (February 15th) registration. (To learn more, visit amiando.com) You can also email Monique at [email protected] or [email protected] and be sure tell her “Adrian Leeds and Parler Paris” sent you!
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(Photo at the Chocoalate Tasting by Tom Reeves of DiscoverParis.net)
P.S. Did you know that the Adrian Leeds Group offers everything you need for your visit or move to Paris or France? From luxurious vacation rentals at Parler Paris and Parler Nice Apartments to customized concierge services at Parler Paris Plus, long-term apartment rentals searches, purchase property finding services, currency transfers, loans and more, visit our site AdrianLeeds.com.
P.P.S. We send our fond memories and sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Benny Luke, who we lost just yesterday. You may remember him as the the houseboy in the original Les Cage Aux Folles (The Bird Cage in 1978), or as a dancer with Josephine Baker in her comeback show in Monaco or as Sharon Morgan’s sidekick in the Soul Food Restaurant, Bojangles, here in Paris oh too many years ago, where we used to eat well, drink well and hear great music. Benny ran the bar like no one could! A reunion of Bojangles is in progress…for all of us who remember these good times so fondly.