Please consider registering
guest

Log In Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —

  

— Match —

   

— Forum Options —

   

Minimum search word length is 4 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

Topic RSS
Arrogant French lady or knowledgable expert?
April 7, 2007
4:40 pm
confiseur
Switzerland
Member
Forum Posts: 51
Member Since:
October 14, 2005
Offline

....Chloe Doutre-Roussel,one of the founder members of the Academy of Chocolate is quoted today in the 'Guardian' as saying British chocolate/chocolatiers cannot be remotely sophisticated in a country where....'national dishes are a mix of leftovers,like pies'....

She also slates Belgian chocolate...'almost impossible to find something acceptable to the palette'...the Swiss are told there chocolate tastes nice not because of the chocolate but because of there milk...

Uncomfortable reading for her fellow members of the academy..or possibly not?.....(quote from the academy website) :

*to improve the standard and knowledge of chocolate in the UK by promoting an understanding of the ingredients of chocolate, through the chain, from bean to bar*

Personally I think if this is the way the academy wishes to improve standards a little more humility is needed...

April 7, 2007
6:46 pm
Masur
Stockholm, Sweden
Member
Forum Posts: 592
Member Since:
August 6, 2006
Offline

Read more about "Thirty steps to chocolate heaven", the Guardian inerview with Chloe:
[url]http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/food/story/0,,2051783,00.html[/url]

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)
April 7, 2007
6:55 pm
Eshra
Southgate, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 178
Member Since:
February 14, 2006
Offline

I like Chloe. She's got personality and knows her passion, chocolate, through and through. In my opinion, it is important to have individuals like Chloe who aren't afraid to say something is flat out bad. There are too many "gourmet" chocolatiers and fine chocolate company wannabes that are trying to pass their product off on the public as 'the best' and what not, and people need to call them on it.

Regarding Swiss chocolate, it is a fact that most of it is more confectionary than anything. I have yet to sample a fine dark chocolate out of Switzerland that isn't made with replacement fats, doesn't artificial flavouring, and is made from well-sourced beans.

Belgian chocolate is much the same. Though there are companies like Chocolove making passable product, much of it is dutched if it is dark chocolate, or just run of the mill milk chocolate. Pierre Marcolini is the exception. His origin bars are wonderful.

April 7, 2007
7:22 pm
aguynamedrobert
California, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 256
Member Since:
July 5, 2006
Offline

A little off topic but...talking about Swiss Chocolate...I never liked their chocolate till I tried Felchlin...anyone agree? Their chocolate is of good quality in my opinion.

Robert
http://www.chocolateguild.com

Some Chocolate Guy http://www.chocolateguild.com
April 7, 2007
8:58 pm
Eshra
Southgate, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 178
Member Since:
February 14, 2006
Offline

And I have yet to sample Felchlin ;)

April 10, 2007
2:06 am
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 614
Member Since:
July 31, 2006
Offline

confiseur, if Chloé might suggest she may have been misquoted by journalists - which we all know is very likely when 'story' is more important than accuracy - I think you may then be guilty of misquoting misquotes.

Attacking our pies may be there for effect, but there's no reference in that sentence to British 'chocolatiers', and I think it's fairly obvious to anyone that she's talking about high street confectionery, not the efforts of the growing number of fine chocolatiers in the UK.

We will all have our own opinion of the industrial Belgian chocolate producers, but I think a majority of readers of this forum would agree that while their best may serve as a decent base to which flavours can be added, there is no single chocolate grade produced in Belgium that comes near to the standard of Valrhona, etc.

The reference to Swiss chocolate is specifically to Swiss MILK chocolate, which is what the public associate with chocolate from that country. "Swiss milk chocolate tastes nice not because of the chocolate but because their milk". (Grammatical error courtesy of the Guardian.)

The Academy of Chocolate is (unfortunately - we need more publicity) not mentioned in this piece, and it is Chloé's own opinion, not that of the Academy. Chloé is of course known for not holding back when it comes to getting across the fine chocolate message, but I see little in the piece to disagree with, even if others might present the ideas in a different way.

I'm not sure exactly what you find offensive here, as this 8 page special in the Guardian is exactly the kind of feature we need to push forward the kind of chocolate we are all of us here interested in promoting.

Constructive criticism is most welcome on this site, I don't believe it is necessary to get personal though. Perhaps you'd care to edit the last sentence of your post?

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

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
April 10, 2007
8:52 pm
confiseur
Switzerland
Member
Forum Posts: 51
Member Since:
October 14, 2005
Offline

...sorry if I have touched a raw nerve here..and for my admitted impoliteness I do apologise and gladly take out the offending sentence...

....however.....

.....'jene die kritisieren sollen auch einstecken koennen'...

for those not familiar with Swiss-German it means that if you are happy to criticize others you should be able to take it as well...

..so Martin, what I do find offensive here is not a throwaway line about attacking our pies 'for effect' as you put it but she quite clearly says that 'national dishes are a mix of leftovers...'like pies'...you may agree with this, I however think that this arrogant mentality is both outdated and also disrepects the enormous advances made in both cuisine and chocolate work in the UK over the last 20 years.

I also find the comment that of Belgian chocolate...'almost impossible to find something acceptable to the palette'...is an exaggeration. I am certainly no fan of Callebaut, Belcolade et al. but so bad they are not....

I know on this site we are preaching mainly to the converted but I feel that such broad-brush statements hinder rather more than they help.....

April 11, 2007
12:11 pm
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 614
Member Since:
July 31, 2006
Offline

Thanks for the edit confiseur.

We all have our different opinions and methods to get the message across, and while this piece may not be to all our tastes, I think in the context of the whole Guardian 8-page feature section it worked well. At least it will get people interested in the subject. Anyway - this is just my personal opinion.

As I'm sure David Beckham would tell us, what might be said to a journalist and what might appear in print are two different things, so caution is required when attributing press quotes to the exact opinion of individuals. (Or even, as I have experienced, when the individual is the supposed author of the piece).

The tone of this piece was set up by the Guardian to shock, and once that is the premise then the language will always lean in that direction. I guess the intent was to challenge deeply held opinions that the chocolate from our local High Street chain is somehow the best, just because they tell us it is the best.

It's amazing how attached some people are to their sugar blitzed palates, and how unwilling some folks can be to even consider something different. I usually like to let the chocolate speak for itself. I also prefer to focus on what is good rather than what is bad, but this only works if the public know of the existence of fine chocolate and have the chance to try it. So perhaps sometimes shock tactics are required?

Peronsally, I prefer to laugh off comments about national cuisine. We have examples of the very good, and lots of the very bad - like most western countries these days, even France.

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

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
April 12, 2007
11:07 pm
jifar
United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 35
Member Since:
May 28, 2006
Offline

I would love our high streets to sell better quality confectionery but there are very big price differences between popular high street confectionery and anything you can buy from a good chocolatier.

A very small bar of fine chocolate can cost £2-£3 easily. It is a very different market and I didn't find the article at all persuasive. If you want reasonable, relatively cheap chocolate you can do a lot worse than go to Lidl and buy some of their origin bars. I wish the article had done more to explore the middle ground.

If you were persuading someone to abandon their overly sweet high street milk chocolate bar where would you point them?

Jill

April 14, 2007
12:43 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 283
Member Since:
October 13, 2009
Offline
10

quote:


Originally posted by confiseur

....Chloe Doutre-Roussel,one of the founder members of the Academy of Chocolate is quoted today in the 'Guardian' as saying British chocolate/chocolatiers cannot be remotely sophisticated in a country where....'national dishes are a mix of leftovers,like pies'....


My guess is that these are either comments made in jest, or statements deliberately exaggerated so as to stimulate controversy. A person who really did hold to such glaringly chauvinist viewpoints would, I suspect, quickly become a pariah in the chocolate world.

Press quotes are difficult, too because they are taken out of context and without any ability to capture the tone and expression in which the comment was made (a lot like e-mail, actually!) so much of what the original commenter said is often lost.

If the comments were made purely to generate controversy, however, I do have a bit of an issue with it. I'm strongly of the opinion that you should say exactly what you actually think about an issue and not either play "devil's-advocate" or exaggerate in order to make a point. If you do so then you force people to second-guess what you really think, and there's an aspect of being condescending, too, of expecting that people won't pick up on a subtle point unless you underscore it with excessive contrast. Just a personal opinion.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
April 15, 2007
5:35 pm
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 614
Member Since:
July 31, 2006
Offline
11

I can see your argument Jill, but although high end chocolate will cost 2 or 3 times as much, you are generally not inclined to eat so much of it to achieve chocolate satisfaction. (Depending on your level of addiction of course).

This is because of bean quality, most noticeable in the length. So put simply, cheaper chocolate will have a short flavour hit and often have a sour, metallic length. So you have to eat more. Good fine chocolate will have much fuller flavour and keep that going in the length for up to 40 minutes. You don't need to eat nearly as much.

The problem with the middle ground is that it's all industrially produced generic chocolate. Those Lidl bars will probably be Callebaut or Belcolade or from an equivalent German producer. The same chocolate will be available from many, many other companies with different branding. There may be a place for this, but it's rather like buying a Lidl branded bottle of wine. Would we seriously expect anyone to recommend that?

Now that all the supermarkets have discovered the value of 'origin' when it comes to selling chocolate, the country of bean production has moved from the back of the wrapper (in the unlikely event it was there in the first place) to the front. Their buyers are busy negotiating private label deals with the major industrial producers so they too can have origin chocolate at a consumer friendly price.

This is inevitable and unavoidable as the interest in fine and origin chocolate takes off – it doesn't make those products any good though.

These companies will never be able to take the same care over their products that small artisans can, and the endless marketing speak about 'selected beans' will never make up the difference.

The reason why I completely support the position of the Guardian feature is because I believe the difference in quality is greater than the difference in price. So I don't believe there is a middle ground worth considering. If you are prepared to pay £1.50 for a bar, better spend an extra £1 and get something like Valrhona Manjari 75g. The difference is huge.

Sorry for the rant! As if to prove that you are right and that there will be a market for such products, Cadbury's have just launched Bournville 'Deeply Dark' 60% chocolate with added milk fat. Supposed to be a dark chocolate for people who like milk chocolate. I have tried it, and alas it's not even in the middle ground.

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

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
April 15, 2007
6:33 pm
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 614
Member Since:
July 31, 2006
Offline
12

Masur just pointed out this company to me [url="http://www.lago-chocolate.de/"]Lago[/url]. Their marketing illustrates one of the points in my last post.

They say their chocolate is "expertly hand crafter using the finest quality Belgian chocolate". By this they mean Callebaut or Belcolade. Masur, who has the misfortunate to buy the 77% offering informs me the chocolate contains vanillin, not vanilla. So by no definition can it be described as "the finest quality Belgian chocolate". Callebaut, and not even the finest grade of it.

A perfect illustration of marketing speak over quality.

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

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
April 15, 2007
9:48 pm
jifar
United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 35
Member Since:
May 28, 2006
Offline
13

I would still like to believe that chocolate should have a reasonable middle ground in the same way that there are very reasonable 'affordable' bottles of wine. There are times when a cheap bottle of wine is just fine. There are also many of us who eat chocolate as a snack and want something a lot better than the average supermaket selection but do not want to pay more for it than we did for the rest of our lunch. Neither do we want to have to mail order ahead to get it. I live in a rural area and understand that my local shops are reluctant to carry very expensive brands of chocolate.

I would love to think I would eat less of a 'good' chocolate but I can eat just as much Valrhona as any other brand - maybe I am just a glutton. Back to the wine analogy, I do not often want to drink any less wine just because it is better quality, usually the opposite.

I cannot see why chocolate manufacturers should only produce at the very top and bottom of the market. I cannot think of any other foodstuff where this happens.

I am not suggesting that top quality chocolate is not worth the money, just that there is a market for something less expensive. At least there is in my house.

Jill

April 15, 2007
11:00 pm
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 614
Member Since:
July 31, 2006
Offline
14

Companies like Domori have attempted this in Italy, where they have more affordable ranges such as the Kamba range. It's made with obviously lower quality beans, but still well made and with few defects. They are the exception though.

I think you make a good point Jill, it's just that the chocolate market is not in a position to provide. This is partly because there are just not enough beans coming from good varieties. Since the Spanish conquest of America, almost all the good varieties have been lost or diluted. The original criollo types have either been lost through cross breeding, or if there are any pure strains left, they account for only a few percent of world output (opinions differ here).

Most chocolate is made from poor varieties (from wild trees found in the Amazon), which are treated badly - either through ignorance or lack of care driven by raw commercialism (the same attitude I think that allows child slave labour).

It's hard to make great, or even good, chocolate on a large scale then. So all the chocolate makers who are making quality chocolate from carefully sourced beans are doing it on a fairly small scale, and paying something like a more reasonable price for the beans they use. (Up to $8/kilo compared to $1.4/kilo or less for bulk beans.) Because of this their costs are higher, and so then is the price of their products.

So unfortunately there just is not a middle ground. All we can do is support the fine chocolate makers who are leading the way (the real ones, not the ones on the marketing bandwagon). And we can hope that, in time, some of the industrial producers will gradually improve their product. I think this will take a long time though, at least 20 years, if it happens at all.

A good example is Divine. They could work to handle their beans better, plant better varieties and choose a better recipe. Their only interest though is to sell as much chocolate as possible for the highest profit. This is laudable given their setup, but is typical within the industry and not really helping chocolate to develop.

The only power we have is our consumer power, and all we can do is use it!

Anyway, this is stimulating debate, thanks for your contribution.

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

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
April 16, 2007
8:36 pm
jifar
United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 35
Member Since:
May 28, 2006
Offline
15

Well I had not really considered that the market was so constrained by a lack of quality ingredients. I had asuumed that much of the problem lay with adding too much cheap sugar and fat to otherwise reasonable cocoa beans.

Many thanks for your post Martin, maybe I can persuade my local deli to stock Domori, but maybe that might take 20 years.

Jill

Arrogant French lady or knowledgable expert? | News | Forum