Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Shift to the Dark Side

It all started about three years ago when a wonderful photographer sent me a box of Genevieve Grandbois chocolates from Montreal. Up to this point I had only eaten milk chocolate and was able to eat quite a lot at once... believe it or not! I sampled the GG chocs, reading the ingredients, and was delighted to detect the elements that made each chocolate different from the others. It was a taste revelation. And I appreciated at last the satisfaction in just having one or two really fine chocolates: the layers of taste and the richness of dark chocolate mean I am more than satisfied with just a little piece at a time.

A few months later I saw a feature on television of our own local chocolate master, Soma (their website is a bit iffy, but the shop and the chocolates are wonderful!), which is located about a 10-minute walk from my home. I bought their "truffles of origin" collection and did a taste test with a friend. The Madagascar was what captivated me with its dark red fruity undertones. The taste lingered and I was in ecstacy. I repeated the exercise a few weeks later with another friend and again, the Madagascar came out on top. They are currently in stock of the truffles but the Madagascar bars are sold out as they wait for the next shipment of cocoa beans.

Well dear Dr. M. came back from Montreal this week and has treated me to Grandbois' 4-chocolate Chuao tin. GG's chocs are decorated differently on top, with leafy sort of patterns, which is how you can tell the difference between them. The four truffles were: "Pure" (a pure Ghuao ganache), "Balsamico" (a ganache flavoured with 12-year aged balsamic vinegar), "Monte Cristo" (a ganache infused with Monte Cristo cigar leaves - and it was fascinating!) and "Truffe noire" (a ganache flavoured with black truffle oil). Here the tin is photographed when I had eaten two. Now there are none. I am feeling extremely good. Do you all know that dark chocolate contains a high dose of antioxidants? Yes! It's true!

Excerpted from WebMD:

Dark chocolate - not white chocolate - lowers high blood pressure, say Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Cologne, Germany. Their report appears in the Aug. 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association ... Dark chocolate - but not milk chocolate or dark chocolate eaten with milk - is a potent antioxidant, report Mauro Serafini, PhD, of Italy's National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome, and colleagues. Their report appears in the Aug. 28 issue of Nature. Antioxidants gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments ... What is it about dark chocolate? The answer is plant phenols - cocoa phenols, to be exact. These compounds are known to lower blood pressure. Chocolates made in Europe are generally richer in cocoa phenols than those made in the U.S. So if you're going to try this at home, remember: Darker is better. Just remember to balance the calories. A 100-gram serving of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 531 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you ate that much raw apple you'd only take in 52 calories. But then, you'd miss out on the delicious blood pressure benefit.

All I'm saying is, I can't go back to milk chocolate. My taste buds have made the shift - permanently - to the dark side.


Ra Ra said...

I remember that chocolate tasting, it seems so long ago, in my old apartment hideaway amongst the pine trees.

Was the winner the Madagascar? I suppose it was. I remember it was so richly fruity.

It had a tang.

I still prefer milk chocolate, on the whole.

Texture is very important in a chocolate. Creamy and smooth is ideal. The manufacturers and marketers of cheap, inferior, grainy, waxy chocolate should be charged with crimes against humanity.

Especially at this time of year when every Wal-mart and Dollar Store is packed to the rafters with shelf upon shelf of crap masquerading as chocolate! They can't call it real chocolate, they have to say "candy" or "confection" or "chocolatey".

It's a crime against humanity and the children who would be better off cherishing the bright wrapping paper and casting off the dubious 'chocolate' within.

Well, it's five o clock and I'm off, in search of the nearest bar and the spiciest bloody caesar. Speaking of bars, the Sultan's Tent has a superb one in their "Cafe Maroc" section in the front. You should really mention it in your post on the Sultan's Tent, that is if you can go back and revise posts. Oh hell, just write a new post, "Ode to the Bar"!

File it under "Drinks" category.

Oodles of Toodles,
Ra Ra

Dr. M. said...

Thank you for including an excerpt about the GG in the midst of your Cake Project blogs. I am so glad that you enjoyed them and it was my pleasure.

Ra Ra said...

I for one would like to know the 'real' reason that Dr. M was in Montreal. Was it for alleged business as he so ostensibly claims, or was it for more clandestine, shall we say "chocolate coated" reasons? I smell a cover up, faint aromas of almond and hazelnut nothwithstanding! Jana, you owe it to yourself, to R.L. and to the cause in general to get to the bottom of things, as it were. Is Dr. M the benevolent chocolate-bestowing phenomenon he appears to be, or is there something entirely less benign hidden beneath the layers of quality foil wrapping?
I leave it in your capable, chocolate-stained hands. I'll be waiting and watching, my dainty hands tightly gripping my champagne cocktail but my eye on the whatever it is my eyes should be on!

Ra Ra

Anonymous said...

wrong blog darling! lol

Ra Ra said...

Speaking of chocolate and crimes against humanity, can we mention here the word of evil personified and enemy of chocolate everywhere: CAROB !

For those of you in blissful ignorance, CAROB is a 'substance' that those unhealthy people who hang around 'health food shops' insist is a suitable 'substitute' for chocolate.

I'll never forget my introduction to this noxious stuff. It was the summer of 198- and like any innocent carefree teenager I pedalled my bike up to Bloor to drop in on my best friend, who had gotten a summer job at "The Health Shoppe".

This friend, let's call her "Agatha", had recently been swept up into a so-called health-food craze, and was anti-everything that she and I had loved up till then (i.e. junk food).

Working at the health shoppe only made everything work, intensifying her resolve to eschew such essentials as potato chips and instead gratify herself with dried banana slices or some such.

Aaaaanyway, there I was, arrived at the store, happy to escape the heat into the air conditioned albeit funny-smelling interior.

"Got any chocolate around here?" I asked in all my teenage innocence.

"No, but try this!" spouted 'Agatha', reaching into a bulk bin and withdrawing an oddly shaped chunk of dark stuff.

"It tastes exactly like chocolate but its sooo much better, healthier and nutritious!" she burbled.

Eagerly I took a big bite.

Ptooey! Blech! Gag!

To make a long story short, if you've ever tried Carob, I sympathize. If you haven't, continue to steer clear.

Did the friendship survive that atrocity? Yes, it did, although it was severely, severely tested by that little episode.

Chocolate---there is NO substitute!

Ra Ra

Ra Ra said...


Oops! Right! Wrong Blog! My bad!
It's sometimes a wee bit difficult to keep straight so many blogs, so many realities, so many personas, so many dimensions, etc etc.

Glad you enjoyed the chocolate, you are becoming a connoisseur if not one already.


Blog Princess G said...

I have never tasted carob. One day I will, just so I can say I have! hee hee.

Capt. Luke said...

I am with Ra Ra on this one. Carob is some sort of leftist plot against humanity...oops...sorry to be redundant.