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Shameful
May 21, 2004
10:46 am
alex_h
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well, i finally found a shop here in munich that stocks domori. when i got there, however, they only had green, gem and puro. and since my domori's run low i decided to experiment. i mean, i prefer chocolate without such additives, but i am not strictly against them.
and what have i got to lose, as you say. this way i found a bar i really like. i never thought of mixing to tastes i like (tea and chocolate), but am now happy i tried.
it's funny how when you eat green fast enough not to let it melt, that the tea leaves are crunchy (something i really like). when you let it dissolve on your tongue the leaves take moisture and become softer.
maybe barrique is next... cuba venchi's chili chocolate kinda ruined my taste for experimenting in the spicier range though.

May 22, 2004
3:49 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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I tried Vosges' Red Fire bar and was not impressed by it at all. Not only is it a very sweet chocolate (55%), but the spices aren't strong enough. The bar is just too sweet and too lightly flavored to have any appeal. Dolfin's Masala bar is supposed to be hot, but it's not at all. Although I was disappointed by the lack of heat, I did however, enjoy the overall taste and slight kick in the back of the throat the black pepper left. It was the combination of spices that Dolfin uses which makes that bar good.

Dolfin's Early Grey bar is good too, but it's only 52%. You should try that too.

May 24, 2004
12:10 am
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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Montegrano,

I'm quite struck by how different people's taste can be. Honestly, Dolfin's Earl Grey is probably the worst bar I've ever tried next to Hachez' with strawberry and pepper. I must add that I only bought one and it could have been something wrong with it, but it had a taste I simply couldn't stand. Even when I tried tiny pieces, it hardly passed my throat. It was too sweet and had another taste I can't describe which was all but good. I was so disappointed because the reason why I bought the bar was that Earl Grey or bergamot is one of my favorite flavors in chocolate. I have tried some truffles with Earl Grey from a patisserie probably using Valrhona chocolate and I tried Earl Grey flavored chocolate bars from Julius Meinl - and they were great. I might have some of it left and if so I'll give it another try bearing in mind that a respectable member of the forum says it's good ...

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
May 24, 2004
3:31 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Well, the piece I had was fresh from the importer, so maybe freshness played a role. What did you not like about it, btw? It is indeed sweet, because it's only a 52% bar. Stronger chocolate pairs better with flavorings than sweeter chocolate. Ironically, the sweetness interferes too much with the ingredients, and consequently, you really don't taste any chocolate. The only Dolfin chocolate that I really care for is the 88%. It's quite intense while not being too dry or flat. I still have a piece left, so I need to finish that off pretty soon. I saved it for a 80%-range taste off with other brands, such as Cluizel, Galler, Dagoba, Domori, and Scharffen Berger.

May 24, 2004
6:01 pm
alex_h
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aha! interesting! i just tried dolfin's 88 myself a couple of days ago and thought it was ok too. it was only a small piece and i was trying a couple of other bars as well, but it seemed all right.
the other dolfin i like is the 70 with nibs. haven't had that in a while though.

i wish i could get my hands on some scharffen berger. the only place i know that has any is xocolatl in vienna. must make that trip sometime.

May 25, 2004
3:35 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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See...I can get tons of Scharrfen Berger; more than I want, actually. I also have two 9oz. 70% bars in my wine cooler that I've been meaning to use in a recipe. Scharffen Berger is extremely fruity, the fruitiest chocolate I've ever had for that matter. Opting for an extremely light roast, their chocolate is really fruity, whereas Dolfin leans towards a darker roast. Scharffen Berger also has good texture; one look at the nutrition label reveals why: more fat than other brands, which indicates that they add a lot of extra cocoa butter. I guess I can understand that since they're geared more toward the American palate.

May 25, 2004
9:48 am
alex_h
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see, you get stuff i can't get my hands on. like you said: depends on where you live :-)

maybe i need to visit the states again soon as well

May 25, 2004
3:09 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Yes you should! Come to Virginia, and I can show you a neat little chocolate store. Here, Scharffen Berger is quite plentiful. Have you ever tried, or heard of, Guittard? They're another high quality American chocolate that operates out of California. America has some gems too. However, to my knowledge, Seattle (Washington state) is essentially the place for chocolate. There are tons of places there that sell all the high end brands, and http://www.chefshop.com operates from there, as well. If you're familiar with http://www.chefshop.com, they carry Slitti, Pralus, Chocovic, and Bonnat.

May 25, 2004
4:23 pm
alex_h
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it's on my list, it's on my list. whew! want to go to vienna, berlin, london, norway, the states... and on and on.

we don't get a lot of american chocolate here, unless you consider reese's and co. most people i tell about my interest in chocolate are surprised to hear that good food can come from the states.

May 26, 2004
6:19 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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What do you mean that they're surprised that good food can from America? What kind of food?

Btw, this is not at attack on you, but rather an annoyance that I want to address briefly. There's tons of good food here in the states. Chocolate-wise, there are many chocolatiers who rank among the best Europeans and some who even surpass them. Some prime examples are Richard Donelley, Marie Belle, Rechiutti, Fran's, and so on and so on. Perhaps the American obsession with fast food and deep fried foods has affected the European mind in making them believe that their cuisine is somehow superior. Or perhaps, as is usually the case, there exists some kind of ethnocentrism that influences other people's opinions. Although America is the world's "fattest" country, England follows a close second.

May 27, 2004
1:08 am
adornix
Frankfurt a.M., Germany
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Not quite correct as far as I know! Statistics I saw recently said, that germans are a bit more overweight than britons. :-)

And totally correct in another point:
The ignorant inhabitants of Old Europe do believe that their kind of food is by any means better than yours. Of course this is prejudice... Even germans with obvious weight (etc.) problems are very proud to be no stupid fast food eaters like all americans in their imagination seem to be. it is annoying to talk with most (there are exceptions of course!) germans about america because their opinions are quite uniform. and especially in the field of food/nutrition even people who never knew to make a good salad or who can't tell a potatoe from an apple believe to know how much superior europe is. I had a friend who regularly visited Seattle but never saw the markets there and never was aware of how better the supply of fresh and good food in seattle was compared with his home town in south germany.
When I visited New York for the fisrt time in 1985 I was overwhelmed by the delies and even by the quality of the simple hot dogs I could have at every corner. I never had seen salad bars with ruccola (maybe "rocket" in english...) and of course I saw the first time in my live that there is not only one kind of potatoe chips :-) I could now add a long essay on observations in american, english and german supermarkets, with a conclusion germans could not be very proud of. But I should stop my sermon here.
Maybe enough of politics in this forum. Only one observation I made recently: In an internet forum of a big german magazine ("Der Spiegel") the topic went to TV-series like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under or 24. The first statement some impudent clodhopper made was: "America and high quality television? Seems to be a contradiction in terms for me!". I don't have to mention that this guy made one or two grammatical errors in this simple (but stupid) sentences, but I have to mention, that Germany is the country with the lowest levelled tv in the western world (well, I can compare it with the USA and England), especially in information programs like documentaries and series like Sopranos or Ally McBeal. I have to admit that I regularly download american tv-programs via internet to have the possibility to watch intelligent high quality television.

OK, enough of my anti-european rage [:D]! Today I made the weekly visit to my local chocolate dealer and bought a big box with 36 small bars from Amedei "1 Cru". Very interesting. I asked if they will have Scharffen Berger in the next few month and got the answer that they have send a letter (or an e-mail) to Scharffenberger but never received an answer. Maybe I have to try to make the contact. Especially fascinated I was by the Cacao-Parfum I saw on Scharffen Berger's web page.

May 27, 2004
6:43 am
blakej
San Francisco, USA
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Here in the San Francisco area, Scharffen Berger is ubiquitous. They pride themselves on relying solely on word-of-mouth for advertising; it sounds like that works pretty well for them here but not so well thousands of miles away. Not exactly a surprise.

SF is definitely a hotbed of chocolate in the United States. Not only do we have Scharffen Berger in the immediate area, but also Ghirardelli (which SF is most widely associated with) and Guittard. Guittard puts out some really good stuff, mostly in large quantities: 10kg bars of good "plain old" dark chocolate, 5kg boxes of couverture discs in several different darknesses, even a number of varietal couvertures. I think they're the best out of the local three, and although I haven't tried all of their offerings, I'd rank them fairly close to Valrhona.

Besides the pure-chocolate manufacturers, we have a couple outstanding chocolatiers (Michael Recchiuti and Richard Donnelly), another mediocre but ubiquitous chocolatier (Joseph Schmidt), and a couple great retailers (Chocolate Covered and Fog City News). And as far as good food in general goes, the Ferry Plaza Marketplace/Farmer's Market has recently been lauded as one of the best markets in the world. That's a little rich, I think, but not all that far off the mark.

Anyway, there's plenty of good food to be had in the USA, and especially in Northern California. One of the only things I can't seem to find around here is (back to the original topic) Domori Puertomar...

May 27, 2004
9:22 am
alex_h
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monte,

as adornix says, many europeans (or germans in this case) imagine the us to be quite backward in many respects. not my opinion. one thing considered bad in the states generally is food. but i have noticed a shift in attitude here. as people travel more (and begin to actually develop their own taste) they realize: wow! the states does have something to offer.
like adornix implies: the less knowledgeable (say the more ignorant?) a person is the more that person will be full of... - um, no, i'm not going to say it - ...the more that person will be full of prejudices. i am sure this phenomenon is found the world over. so, don't think anything of it, please.

but in the end, most people associate switzerland or belgium with good chocolate here. need i say more?
and not to step on belgian or swiss toes: yes! there is excellence there as well. but for me - generally speaking - the swiss make good milk chocolate and the belgians good truffles. and then you've got marcolini et al.

May 27, 2004
9:24 am
alex_h
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and blake, i seriously envy you. sf is a place i'd like to live sometime. strange you can't get puertomar there...

May 27, 2004
11:32 am
elektra
United Kingdom
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I've looked at the sites for chocosphere & chefshop, and they seem terrific, but no good to those of us who live in the UK. I can't get anything worth eating in the shops unless I make a trip to London, so I've been relying on the intermittent, and somewhat limited stock of Martin and his team.

Can anyone recomend to me a decent UK internet chocolate shop, which would give me access to some of the quality chocolate the rest of you are enthusing over?

Thanks,

Elektra

May 27, 2004
12:44 pm
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
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Have patience Elektra and you will have access to a much better range very soon ...

You can also buy direct from us in London at Spitalfields market on Wednesdays from 11am - 4.30pm, and we'll be looking at more venues in the near future soon.

I am there in person some weeks, and the good thing is this gives me some time to catch up with reviews, so this is why there are finally some new bar reviews on the site.

Martin Christy
Editor
http://www.seventypercent.com

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
May 27, 2004
4:19 pm
blakej
San Francisco, USA
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Well, when my Chocosphere order of the new Domori line comes in, I'm going to bring some down to share with one of the retailers and say "You should stock this!" We'll see if it works.

May 28, 2004
4:26 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Well, yeah, there is an ethnocentric attitude inherent in all human cultures. Each culture is going to automatically assume that his/her own lifeway is the "correct" way or the best one. Usually, most people only hear the criticism and bad comments about something and consequently base their opinions on that. Besides, what provokes and raises more attention? Criticism or praise? Which is more controversial and bound to evoke action? I'd say criticism. People just need to be exposed to both aspects/sides in order to form a sound and less biased judgment. This is true of all things, whether it's food, politics, or even chocolate.

May 31, 2004
7:37 pm
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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Lots of interesting reflections to read here. I was just wondering - how eager are the americans to export their food, chocolate for instance? I do find it interesting that in a discussion about food - distinctions and prejudices - it seems like people are talking about US versus Europe, as if Europe was one homogeneous area in terms of food. Coming from a corner of Europe mostly considered as insignificantly in terms of food (although our chefs has won plenty of competitions during the last years), I find it interesting that Europeans make their prejudices towards each others as well. What annoys me though is that some nationalities are used as legitimising, as with French cuisine in general, Belgian chocolate, Norwegian salmon and so on. My salmon isn't necessarily great no matter how much Norwegian it is. It makes me mad to hear people talking big about chocolate - "It's not correct that the Belgians do the best chocolate. The best chocolate is French" as if Valrhona is the best chocolate and representative for all French chocolate.

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
June 1, 2004
5:18 pm
alex_h
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i guess generalization is ok and necessary, as long as it isn't taken to extremes. and as long as views and minds are open enough to allow change. boy, i am getting philosophical here.

let's veer back to puertomar. i think puertomar is a great chocolate. have i ever said so? i mean this stuff is great, beats all the rest... ;-)

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