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February 20, 2006

Chocolatey Goodness of the Premium Kind


I am most definitely not a chocolate connoisseur.

Don't get me wrong, I like to think that I know good chocolate when I taste it. If you give me Valrhona and Godiva side-by-side, yeah, I'm going to know the difference. But I don't have that megarefined palate that can pick out the extremely subtle differences between great chocolate and amazing chocolate.

That said, I've been enjoying some amazing chocolate.

For our belated Valentine's Day, my ladylove saw fit to have some remarkable chocolates shipped in from France. zChocolate tries to separate themselves from the luxury chocolate pack by offering a rather impressive level of packaging customization. Their deluxe collections come in a mahogany box that you can personalize with an engraved plaque, a card featuring your uploaded photo, and even an individual collection, selected chocolate by chocolate (all dark for me... rock on!). But this definitely isn't style over substance. They say their chocolatiers are master chefs, and I can't say I've heard of them, but I'm perfectly willing to take their word for it. These are really fantastic chocolates. Though it's decidedly unscientific, one of my rough benchmarks for chocolate quality is the size of the bites that make me happy. I'll consume run of the mill chocolates in one bite. Good ones, probably 2-3. But with these, anything more than a quarter or a fifth of a chocolate is overload. A little nibble is more than enough to savor. The outer coatings have a nice bite, and in my collection, are all wonderfully dark. The ganache is potent, and an unusual amount of attention seems to have been paid to the the ganache's texture. It's smooth when it should be smooth, a little grainy when it should be a little grainy, firm when it should be firm and creamy when it should be creamy. In terms of flavors, they're creative enough to be interesting, but we're not dealing with curry and wasabi, here. They're less about unusual combinations and more about evoking the strength of more traditional chocolate flavors.

Of course, this all comes at a price that screams special occasion, but there's no question in my mind that you're getting some of the best chocolates out there. Good stuff.

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