The Chocoholic Page !

During my travels, I've pretty much noticed that by and large, Europeans tend to prefer a darker variety of chocolate (as do I ). Americans (and Canadians ) tend to prefer a lighter variety of chocolate. And then, there's Brian Bailie ... who actually doesn't like chocolate ... <sigh> ...

So how about a little history of the stuff, courtesy of my ex-employer, Nestle (a charming bunch of guys, and one of the most fun companies I've worked for).

Nestle began their entry into India with chocolates during my tenure with them (chocolates, specifically; they had long since established a presence for their other brands in the country). Alas, they had an uphill task there: the Cadbury's brand name was so deeply entrenched in the Indian mentality that it became synonymous with chocolate. We even had instances of children asking for Nestle's Cadbury's (i.e he wanted a bar of Nestle's chocolate, but mentally, he associated chocolate inseparably with Cadbury's). Nestle also ran into a problem with its composition. Normally, their chocolates are prepared with a melting point of 37 degrees Centigrade, which is just below human body temperature; this ensures that the chocolates literally melt in your mouth. Unfortunately, India's summertime temperatures can shoot up as high as 46 degrees Centigrade, which meant that the chocolates were melting just about anywhere. This led to a persistent retailer campaign by the company (stubborn cusses ) which ensured that every retailer who sold Nestle chocolates had a freezer box for the chocolates (kinda radical for Indian retailers at the time).

But let's move away from history, and take a look at what's obtainable to tempt your palate:

One of my favourite Chocolateries is Richart, with their dizzyingly magnificent range of designer chocolates. Richart never fails to please: they experiment with a wide range of flavour and ingredients, mixing them along with the best Criollo chocolate, to produce their final confections. While not all of them are uniformly to my taste (I confess to not caring particularly for the tobacco chocolate, though I was assured it tasted much better if it was consumed fresh, just a day or two after preparation), some of their others are unrivalled (their mango/passion-fruit ganache is probably my single favourite creation).

Bow down low in their praise for a moment, before we move on ...

My esteemed Californian hosts, Pankaj and Prerna, introduced me to the wonder of the Napa Valley's freshly-filled Champagne chocolates, when I was visiting them a few years ago. On one of their pilgrimages to the Valley, they had noticed these sublime confections, a solid splash of Codorniu Napa champagne sealed in a tight sphere of chocolate. Not imbibers themselves (but conscientously thoughtful of those who are, like myself), they marked the place and brought me to it on my next visit. Gaspar and Kay, at the winery, gave me a tasting of their wine, and their still more delightful chocolates, to my immense happiness. And I order more, every so often, from the cheerful surroundings of the East Coast.

Kentucky bourbon chocolates

Annnnnnd ... t