Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Last weekend we had the amazing opportunity to participate in a small chocolate tasting/discussion/lecture with the chocolate expert Chloe Doutre-Roussel who is known as “the goddess of chocolate”. She spoke to a small group at Biagio, a chocolate store in DC that has expanded my enjoyment, knowledge and exposure to fine chocolate.
Chloe’s passion about the chocolate is contagious and her insights memorable….
She presented a method of tasting that will change the way that I taste chocolate, and everything else. We were educated about deciphering acidity, bitterness and astringency, how percentage of cocoa butter plays a role in taste and why not to pay attention to the percentage of cocoa marked on many fine chocolate bars. At the same time Chloe was clear that the purpose of chocolate in our lives is to add pleasure and gaining knowledge about chocolate can enhance that pleasure. She spoke of individual tastes and the way those can change from moment to moment (something that makes lots of sense to me personally). We learned how even within the category of fine chocolate there is great variety in the source of beans, method of processing and in the packaging and shipping which all impact on the final product.
In addition to consulting for some of the best chocolate makers in the world Chloe travels to cocoa growing countries who want to make chocolate in addition to growing beans. That experience has led her to examination of organic farming practices, fair trade, truth in labeling and purity in cocoa bean variety. All complex subjects, many of which she had interesting and provocative views on.
It is always exciting to meet an individual who has such passion and knowledge about a subject…if that subject is chocolate it is even a little more exciting! But in addition Chloe presented her information with thoughtful insights that resonated with me. For example, she spoke of the connection of taste and smell to our unconscious mind and how favorite tastes tie into memory. Chloe talked about the journey of life and additions of pleasure into that journey. And she discussed how her passion and obsession with chocolate paralleled her passion and obsession with music.
I left the event with her book, “The Chocolate Connoisseur”, I look forward to reading it.