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Vosges Haut Chocolat


Carolyn Tillie
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I did a quick search beforehand and only saw a few comments on this chocolatier -- anyone with firsthand knowledge?

Apparently Vosges Haut Chocolat hails from Chicago. At the Napa, California Dean & Deluca, I was drawn to a bar of chocolate called the Naga Bar - which has sweet Indian curry powder, coconut flakes and milk chocolate (40% cacao). It was amazing and a great combination of flavors (but hardly cheap at $7.25 for a 3.3oz. bar!).

Today I bought the Black Pearl Bar which has Japanese ginger, wasabi, black sesame seeds and dark chocolate. (60% cacao).

The other ones immediatley available to me include the Gianduja Bar, a seemingly standard smooth French praline made of hazelnuts and almonds melted with Belgian milk chocolate (30% cacao) and the Red Fire Bar, another interesting concoction of Mexican, ancho y chipotle chili peppers, Cassia cinnamon and dark chocolate (60% cacao).

What has me extremely curious are their offerings which I can't get locally. Should I pay to have Australian Aboriginal Collection sent to me which include flavors Riberry, Wattleseed, Forest Berry, and Quandong? Now how exciting is that? I can't believe I found such an adventurous chocolatier and that it hasn't been discussed ad nauseum here! What about The Green Collection with flavors that include Kaffir lime leaves, Indian green cardamom, Thai pandan leaves, Japanese green tea and cherry blossoms?

Not since Recchiutti had I heard of such interesting flavors being done into confections.

I'll probably wait until fall -- just so as not to risk melting -- but am looking forward to having something shipped!

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Check out this topic for a discussion on chocalatiers that includes Vosges. While I have enjoyed the Vosges chocolate products that I've had, Steve Klc has a different opinion expressed on that thread. He calls them gimmicks. I call them interesting and tasty. Their hot chocolate mixes aren't bad either.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Check out this topic for a discussion on chocalatiers that includes Vosges. While I have enjoyed the Vosges chocolate products that I've had, Steve Klc has a different opinion expressed on that thread. He calls them gimmicks. I call them interesting and tasty. Their hot chocolate mixes aren't bad either.

So what is wrong with gimmicks? Especially if they taste good? :wink::biggrin:

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I'm not sure he is against the concepts. My impression is that he does not consider them well made technically, that packaging is particularly important and that they resort to exoticism in lieu of quality. As I said, I have enjoyed the products I've had, although I am no expert on chocolate production.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Check out this topic for a discussion on chocalatiers that includes Vosges. While I have enjoyed the Vosges chocolate products that I've had, Steve Klc has a different opinion expressed on that thread. He calls them gimmicks. I call them interesting and tasty. Their hot chocolate mixes aren't bad either.

Hmmmm.. thanks for the thread -- interesting that when I did a search for it, that thread was not mentioned.

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I recently bought some Vosges truffles for friend's birthday (though didn't try any myself). What I found most amsuing was their Vincent Gallo collection. Am I the only one who finds this odd? Maybe Kalamata olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wild Tuscan fennel pollen epitomize Mr. Gallo, but what does he have to do with chocolate? Peculiar.

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Hmmm....I've been meaning to go check out Vosges. I do have a birthday next month. A trip downtown would be perfect. :wub: I'll let you know how I like the boutique. I hope they have some unique fall flavors.

it just makes me want to sit down and eat a bag of sugar chased down by a bag of flour.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've tried those chocolates. They just opened a store on Spring Street in Soho, NYC. All the crazy flavors make them fun to eat, and they are that perfect petit four size, but they're pretty expensive. If I'm going to pay a lot, I prefer to pass and go to La Maison du Chocolate myself. Sometimes I'll go to Marie Belle to get gifts for other people - my friends & family like the unusual designs and the fancy boxes.

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I've had a few of their flavors and found them interesting.

I'd REALLY like to try the Australian one!

RE: Steves opinion: I would concur with him that maybe the chocolate part of the Vosges equation is a bit lacking.

Solely my opinion, to each their own.

It hasn't stopped me from trying them out and when I'm feeling 'Haute', I will go for it!

:biggrin:

The green collection has my interest piqued too.

La Maison du Chocolat... ahhhh.

I miss them :sad:

2317/5000

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I tried a selection last year and so have not yet tasted the newer interesting sounding stuff.

I thought they arrived nicely, and I loved the packaging and all the pictures I see of their shop in Soho and their catalog. Their marketing is superb. I even like that they do yoga and encourage relaxed states for the chocolate experience. The owner sounds playful, free and super imaginative

I also like the clean uniformity in their decoration.

I wasn't overly impressed with the strength of the chocolate used next to the exotic ingredients used though. The other ingredients took over and the chocolate seemed like a vehicle. The shells were also quite thick for such a "luxury" chocolate. A lot of people have qualms with this. I agree that a thin shelled ganache filled chocolate is a great clean experience, But....I have no problem with thicker shelled chocolates If the chocolate is great tasting (that just means more great unaltered chocolate on my tongue).

They were pricey but not the priciest I've eaten. The priciest have come from a shop in Taos, I think they were $3-$3.50 a piece (same size or smaller than Vosges). My boyfriend bought me some of these and they arrived ugly and messed up. The way he described it was that the owner practically threw them into the box. One could see the lack of care and detail for sure. You'll have to excuse me, things like this REALLY bother me. There's a lot to be said for the way objects of food or other special items are handled. And this is what Vosges is good at. I appreciate the value they place on the visuals.

The big problem I have with Vosges is their descriptor, "Haut Chocolat".

Why is it Haut? As far as I'm concerned, "Haut" should describe something that is VERY handmade using the BEST materials. It's labor intensive and made to order hence the high price.

This decription is misleading the customers into thinking that's what the product is.

Don't get me wrong. I will be quite happy when I get my own tempering machine and maybe even a conveyor belt. I have no qualms about this, but I will not be calling them haut chocolat.

I could be getting in trouble here........I've heard here that they use pre-made shells to fill with their exotic ganaches. Well, who cares. As I'm sure many of us know, truffles are damn hard to hand roll with out ending up with cracks, bubbles, thick shells or cocoa powder piled on.

But to call them haut chocolat. If they do use pre-made shells then hopefully they mold them themselves with tastier chocolate than what they're already made of.

Using the belt is not a problem. Doing everything handmade is not insurance that they are better chocolates.

This just bothers me because hand-rolling would be a given in haute chocolature and the labor cost involved would be one of the arguments behind the higher price and the licence to use such a description as "haut chocolat".

Anyway, I might be able to say more but I normally don't spend this much time on egullet. (only because I feel guilty about all the other things I have to do). And I didn't mean to come down so hard on Vosges (if your out there) after all the owner encourages their workers to practice yoga and it sounds like an appreciative company to work for (you might even get publicly thanked with your picture in the catalog).

eem

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Eem, thanks for spending the time to tell us what you thought! I'm guessing they are considering them 'haut' because they are using such unusual ingredients... It wouldn't surprise me if they are using pre-made shells. There's a number of huge, reputable chocolatiers out there that want to spend their time and efforts on the interior flavors vs. the exterior shell. If they are buying a good enough shell, hopefully the interior will shine through and their efforts will prevail.

I'm still excited about trying these interesting, new flavors. But I will still wait until fall to assure that I don't receive a product that could suffer with summer heat.

I can't wait!

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I've been to their Soho store. I thought the chocolate (including the Mexican hot chocolate) was pretty good, although I thought Jacques Torres did it better, and first.

Alacarte, can you elaborate to me what you think Jacques did first and better? Actually opening a haute chocolate shop? Or the flavors he is using? Your reference is a bit vague...

I'm asking because his website does not give one single flavor descriptor on any of the confection truffles.

What I am enamored with on the Vosges are the unusual flavors, notably the Australian flavors. Here in NoCal, we have access to Recchiuti and XOX Truffles, both of which are exquisite but neither have the exotic flavors that intrigue me the way the Vosges does. Does Jacques do anything exotic?

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I suspect he was first in all of the above. Jacques Torres, one of the masterminds behind the fanciful desserts at Le Cirque in the 1990s, was one of the fancy-flavor chocolate pioneers. I know his chocolate factory has been around since 2000. I don't know how long Vosges has been around, the website doesn't say.

Aaargh, you are correct, the website does not list the many wonderful chocolate flavors. How disappointing. He's done things like port wine truffles, "wicked" chocolate (with archo & chipotle pepper - my favorite), lavender, lemon verbena, earl grey. Very high end and unusual flavors -- but I have to admit that it's less "unusual" because there are so many competitors making equally fanciful flavors these days.

Here's a link to Chocophile website's review of Torres. He lists some of the flavors here and notes on technique.

For symmetry, here's the link to the (very brief) review of Vosges.

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He's done things like port wine truffles, "wicked" chocolate (with archo & chipotle pepper - my favorite), lavender, lemon verbena, earl grey. Very high end and unusual flavors -- but I have to admit that it's less "unusual" because there are so many competitors making equally fanciful flavors these days.

That begs the question -- I wonder who started infusing chocolate with these flavors? For some reason, it seems that the lavender, lemon verbena, earl grey-like flavors have been around for quite some time (at least back into the 80's, before Jacques had his M.O.F.)

I was impressed when Recchiuti had a tarragon flavored filling contrasted with a slice of candied grapefruit -- now THAT was unusual! But these Vosges chocolates seem more cutting edge at this point.

At the Fancy Foods show in Los Angeles three years ago, I tasted a chocolatier who was making a goat cheese-flavored chocolate. Better than I anticipated it would be.

Any chocolate fans out there care to hazard a guess when flavors like lavender and earl grey started appearing on the world stage?

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I think the French were there first with the exotics.

They were doing stuff with tea, herbs, etc., probably in the late 80's, 90's for sure.

Steve Klc could probably verify.

If fact, they were probably using Asian infusions also, seeing that the French have had a presence in the Far East for quite awhile.

I know Robert Linxe at Maison du Chocolat has had exotic flavorings for a fair time.

Spain has taken it a bit farthur with the savory end.

Anchovy, blue cheese, etc.

here's a link to a shop in Barcalona.

http://www.cacaosampaka.com/

More fun stuff when you click on the "innovations " box.

http://www.cacaosampaka.com/castellano/bombons.htm#Null

Black olive, olive oil, truffle, modena vinegar, etc.

Edited by tan319 (log)

2317/5000

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  • 4 weeks later...

I want to thank alacarte for mentioning my reviews of Jacques Torres and Vosges on chocophile.com. However, the URL given for the Vosges review was incomplete, the full URL (for those who are interested) is:

http://www.chocophile.com/index.php/chocop.../review-vosges/

BTW - if we're talking exotic flavors they've been around from the very beginning. The history of chocolate includes mentions of hot peppers, exotic spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice), nuts, colorings (achiote), and flowers such as jasmine from the times of the Spanish "discovery" of chocolate in the early 1500s - although jasmine flowers may have been a 1600s Italian innovation. Of course, they were spicing up beverages, not eating chocolate - but I think it still counts as the principle is the same.

:Clay

Clay Gordon

president, pureorigin

editor/publisher www.chocophile.com

founder, New World Chocolate Society

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Ted--I think what seems exotic is always going to be in the eye of the beholder--based on whatever your personal frame of reference is, how aware you are of history and traditions, in your country and in other countries, etc. We are a lot more familiar with French cooking, pastry and chocolate than we are with, say, Spanish cooking, pastry and chocolate--the French obviously have been much more influential, and documented, over the past 3 centuries. I don't know what the best Spanish chocolatiers were doing a decade ago, let alone 40 years ago, but we have a much better idea of what the best French chocolatiers were doing! We're only now beginning to realize how the cooking of Spain developed apart from French influences, apart from Escoffier, and how even the current (chic) high-end avant garde cooking of Spain builds upon the traditional dishes of that country. And we still have a LONG way to go to uncover this. (I suspect the El Bulli Book 1 will re-open a lot of people's eyes--and reveal how creative and adventurous they were even then.)

In this case I think Clay's historical example is instructive--even in the mass-market chocolate books or that recent exhibit on chocolate at the AMNH in NYC, which was underwhelming, you're still going to read about those seemingly-exotic ingredients mixed with the crude early forms of cacao--both here in the New World and once it was brought back to the Old--just to make that gritty paste tolerable as a beverage. Cacao itself was exotic and expensive, and the sugar and spices added to it were themselves exotic, expensive and rare outside royalty and affluence. That was part of the allure.

But having that context is a good thing and can lead elsewhere. I remember coming across one of the earlier published chocolate recipes from England, a kind of chaste, poor woman's chocolate which when cool set up like a pudding, so typically English and frugal rather than decadent, French and sensuous, it was in the (still great) Anne Willan "Great Cooks and their Recipes" book, and I remember being shocked it had wine and rosemary in it--and when I first made it (this was maybe 10 years ago, I had been out of my very traditional French pastry school for a few years where we never even discussed rosemary or herbs in relation to dessert) it rocked my world and opened my eyes. So rosemary and chocolate was done hundreds of years ago? All I knew was it tasted GREAT! (Of course, I made it with modern chocolate--a relatively recent invention in the grand scheme of things chocolate as Clay also points out.)

Big picture: all of this once-adventurous chocolate pairing was not adventurous for its time period, that's how it was done in Spain or France or England, but it was then effectively eliminated over time as tastes and awareness changed, eliminated commercially, desserts and chocolate became rigidly codified at the professional/haute level and also at the mass produced level. The flavors and pairings became predictable and standard for close to 2 centuries, thanks mostly to the French who dominated continental cooking.

Read a good culinary history source, like Mennell, which deals generally with the evolution of cooking since the Middle Ages across Europe, and you'll find mention of wonderfully complex "exotic" spice blends and food pairings which rival those of any modern creative chef known for his cutting edge spice blends or fusion of cuisines--like a Kunz or Vongerichten--or examine any previously unfamiliar cuisine you might stumble upon, say an Indian regional style. In the Middle Ages and just beyond you'll find complete commingling of sweet and savory which belies any current trendiness a foodie might be tempted to read into their meal at Per Se, the antecedents of which are hundreds of years old. Mostly everything has been done before, not necessarily done well but done. Dessert has generally been less-well-documented than cooking, but even the not-that-well-documented history of chocolatiers and pastry chefs pairing interesting, eclectic seemingly disparate "exotic" flavors with chocolate is still more than we might realize. Ted, I think you're also right: much of our creative awareness in the modern era got jumpstarted back in what we know as the French "nouvelle cuisine" period, which was say the early 70's and forward, so way before Jacques got his MOF--that's when you first had something considered exotic for its time, say Earl grey tea, paired with chocolate in a sauce or in the ganache of a bon bon. Prior to that--so post Escoffier/but in that Fernand Point handing off to Bocuse and the rest of his disciples phase it was still chocolate and vanilla, or chocolate with very standard flavors like almond or hazelnut or coffee or orange or raspberry or a liqueur like calvados or framboise There was very little spice in pastry beside vanilla, maybe cinnamon but not really often, cinnamon had been purged and supplanted by vanilla, especially with chocolate. No "asian" spices, no minimalism, no exotic Passard tomato--yet. Dessert making was more about codifying classic and repeatable forms, base structures and techniques--it was tarts and gateau St. Honore and Opera and Concord and gateaux succes--and very stagnant when it came to creative flavors.

It's important to remember, though, for most people in the US, chocolate infused with earl grey tea would still seem "exotic," even today. The majority of people would find this "cutting edge."

I'm glad Jacques was mentioned, he's such an interesting, seminal and complex figure. I also was lucky to be asked to write about Jacques for Food Arts right when he opened his place, and I'd been in Le Cirque 2000 to visit with him prior to that (because my wife staged with him.) He had me taste his whole line of chocolates which he had begun producing for Palace hotel guests--they were very French, enrobedly thinly, consummately good, with clean, safe, traditional flavors. They were clearly better than Payard's chocolates. But Jacques is a grounded traditional French pastry chef--with a very traditional approach to acceptable flavors--so he's essentially conservative and to some seemed, frankly, boring. Yes his desserts were fanciful, architecturally challenging and fun but his approach to flavor pairing in them was not daring at all--no chocolate-basil or chocolate-rosemary on his menu--he typified his time and that NYC era and was extremely influential. But, his opening line of chocolates was not adventurous at all--that would go against his heritage and his palate, so why change?--it's not like we had great chocolate all over the place. The best small US chocolate artisans of the time pre-Torres, guys like Burdick, Jim Graham, Donnelly and Recchiuti were working in similarly respectful French styles anyway--and the French chocolate guys they learned from or were influenced by already had exotic and adventurous infusions in their lines. Exotic for Jacques was something like pistachio marzipan, the best pistachio marzipan you'd find in a chocolate but still pistachio marzipan--safe and classic--with the only exception I recall being his more mexican/chili pepper hot chocolate mix but even that had been done by others before. (The Herme chocolate line for Wegmans is likewise safe, French and conservative--and also impeccable--and he also has a pistachio marzipan.) No, what Jacques pioneered in NYC post Le Cirque was the freestanding state of the art chocolate shop, with the best equipment, the best hygiene, sanitation and modern methodologies, driven by his consummate professionalism, work ethic and personal charm--which inspired talented people to work for him and the media to write about him. He knew he had to make a move because he knew there was no long term future as a restaurant pastry chef in the US, even for the most famous one in the country.

Back to pairing chocolate with interesting or complex spices, nuts, seeds, herbs, flowers and essences like a basil or thyme or anise, that began in France in earnest much earlier than Jacques Torres came on the scene as a chocolatier--by the early eighties in that post nouvelle-cuisine period--you had ambitious chocolatiers of the time gently pushing in new directions, even like a Robert Linxe (now we know a little bit more why--it attracted media attention and it helped spread fame and the cachet of chocolate as a luxury product) but they still pushed them within the rules, the code, of that very subtle, very refined French chocolate style--just whiffs of flavor where you had to strain or guess what the essence was, you may only have tasted it after you swallowed--you saw more of this in French chocolate than you did in French desserts, which had very little exoticism and daring until Herme. This subtlety, delicacy and grace of flavor revealed the chocolate itself as a complex flavor, and a vital platform for flavor--especially the enrobed darker chocolates with dark chocolate ganache--so French--which is the opposite of what some of these American chocolate purveyors are doing now: combining nice packaging, cheap shells, molds, garish size or thickness, intense flavors, pretty transfer sheets and/or bright cocoa butter colors swirled in your face. All of which are calculated to appeal to newbies and the culinary fashionistas (rather than savvy veterans) and to cover up the inferior workmanship and the cheap chocolate they're using, which they don't actually want you to taste, assess or talk about. If you think more intense is not necessarily "better" when it comes to chocolate, thick is not better when it comes to chocolate, exotic is not inherently better when it comes to chocolate, and it doesn't matter how well something is packaged or how savvy or cute the marketer is--you're increasingly out of luck. Better is better, be it the chocolate or ingredients used, fresh is usually better; that said, everything deserves to be given a chance.

Looking back in print media and talking to older chefs, I think the really influential/controversial group was the post-nouvelle Michelin-starred chefs who started to create some strong buzz for their use of distinctive local herbs and spices in their food (think Veyrat and Bras,) Gagnaire's stuff from the early 80's was already adventurous, Passard opened L'Arpege in 1984, Olivier Roellinger used imported exotic spices in food and desserts, and if you read his book now seems "tame" but at the time was controversial amongst his French peers, putting asian spice blends in chocolate sorbet and using exotic spices in chocolate desserts--szechaun pepper anyone?--and his book came out in 1994 which means he was doing it 6-10 years or so earlier. Look at this book today, compared to other French books of the time and you'll see how adventurous it was--yet immediately see how dated even that is viewed a decade hence. But things happen when they happen and can be plotted on a timeline, even a very static one like French cooking.) The history of French creativity when it comes to chocolate and desserts is like the Stephen Jay Gould evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium--long periods of stasis (think vanilla and profiteroles) and then sudden siesmic changes a la a Conticini. Someone wholly unique and ultimately transformational, like a Careme then or how I think a Philippe Conticini will come to be viewed, the former who revolutionized technique and usage of ingredients and the latter who championed creative freedom and exploded exotic flavor concepts of a Roellinger but to the nth degree, making them into his own layered poetry, and who we've discussed often on eG. What Conticini began conceiving and espousing in the early nineties was rare for France and French pastry chefs. But geniuses like Conticini, or a Careme, come once in every few generations.

Late 90's in the US you know what was considered cutting edge and exotic? The fact that salt enhanced chocolate and caramel--and you had a bunch of trend pieces, including one by Amanda Hesser, talking about Herme and salt, (the great) Claudia at Gramercy and her salted caramel tartlette and the magician/poet Philippe Conticini--I still remember the first time I met him, it was at the very first New York Chocolate Show ('98) when it was in the Puck Building and there's this large, young cherubic-faced guy standing behind the chocolate bar passing out little croutons of cake dipped in melted chocolate sprinkled with sea salt--and it was amazing. Claudia's tart was amazing. Of course the deeper you dig you'd find that chocolatiers out in the outskirts of France (Brittany) had been doing salted caramels forever and the French already knew what American foodies had yet to discover. So much so it had already became a "tradition" there, while the NYC food and dining media was just about to connect the dots at Gramercy with Claudia's tart and Philippe sprinkling fleur de sel on his desserts. So its all a frame of reference thing. I think the deeper any of us look the more of this we'll discover.

Always better to be good than exotic, I say, but then that's a separate issue, and taste is very subjective anyway. I do think it's harder to do exotic well because exotic hasn't been codified and copied ad infinitum like the classics have. And it didn't seem from my reading and research that it was a majority of the nouvelle French pushing the exotic chocolate pairing angles--yes you had an iconoclast like a Roellinger or a Bras or a Veyrat then and an Herme and Conticini more recently--but most French remained very conservative. And even in this new experimentation with the exotics--there were rules and very strange pairings, truly out of the box pairings, were just not done yet. There was too much pressure to conform, from within the industry and without.

One thing we know for sure is it wasn't the Jane-come-lately Vosges crew creating brand new combnations--odds are any groundbreaker being buzzed about today is treading over ground already covered, emulating the real pioneers if you peel back the surface a bit--in this case emulating someone like an Albert Adria and his very representative "choco-coco-curry" dessert in the Postres book, a good example of the typical, evolving El Bulli approach to flavor and cross-cultural inspiration, the recipe of which was in print by what, 1997? but he had done it in the restaurant earlier. Hmm, chocolate, coconut and curry powder. Can anyone say "Naga" bar? (This doesn't preclude the "Naga" from being considered an enjoyable or great chocolate bar or truffle. It just precludes any talk of inventiveness or uniqueness on its part.) About this time some younger pastry turks of NYC were also pushing similar boundaries--I remember tasting a chocolate-curry-pistachio dessert of D. Jemal Edwards in 96 or 97. (And it was good.)

I think at this point it's also worth pointing out that there are differences in successful execution between 1) pure chocolate being infused with flavor, say an oil or essence or coconut and curry, and then molded into a bar, wrapped up and sold as a candy bar; 2) chocolate bon bons with a filling like a ganache infused with flavor and 3) chocolate desserts with those flavors: all three are different animals and require different skill sets and palates to produce well. And all three have to be judged and assessed somewhat differently, in terms of success, because their traditions are different, how and when you eat them will be different, a dessert follows a meal, etc. Of the three, the tradition of 1) is relatively new--a few years old--and Vosges is a pioneer on this front. It is also always possible to give a new twist to someone else's original idea--this is one of the primary tenets of cooking; it is also possible to develop things independently but concurrently. This happens a lot as well. (It would be a whole lot easier if American chefs came back from having, say, a bacon and egg dessert at El Bulli, and then gave credit to that dish as the source of their inspiration when they put their own bacon and egg dessert on their American restaurant's menu. But that's wishful thinking. )

As an aside, since we're talking dates and history, my first brush with a "kind of exotic" chocolate pairing success predates even that first NY Chocolate Show, which was in the Fall of 1998, before I found out who Conticini or Adria was, I'd have to go back in my notes to be sure but in 97 I had a really good "chai" for the first time and a light bulb went off, so informally Colleen and I experimented infusing a homemade "chai" tea mixture into chocolate and eventually settled on a milk chocolate "chai" creme brulee with a paper thin nib tuile (we had just discovered nibs as well) and El Rey, the chocolate I was using at the time, eventually took out a full page/inside front cover ad in Pastry Art & Design to tout the recipe. Our chai-chocolate experimentation pre-dated the impending nouvelle Indian food media tidal wave in NYC which Tabla and others were about to kick into overdrive in late 1998--so it was before most of us knew what "jaggery" was or how to use it or what Indian spice mixtures were or how to toast them to coax out the flavor from the whole spice--those trend articles hadn't been written yet and filtered down. But for me I never cared about how exotic it was, or whether it had been pulled off before, just that it was good and that flavor-wise it spoke to me. Probably just like Jacques with his creations or Vosges with theirs. Someone with a keener sense of history in NYC, or with actual dining experience in London or India might know when someone else may have paired chocolate and chai first or when it showed up on a restaurant dessert menu first, all of which drives home my real point-- we can all always improve our awareness of culinary history, the sense and appreciation of what came before and how things build on what came before, and that's ultimately important here.

Without developing the sense of history and the appreciation you're left with the buzz. Then you move on to the next "buzz." And purveyors of buzz rarely reveal context, importance or significance.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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  • 2 weeks later...
I'm not sure he is against the concepts. My impression is that he does not consider them well made technically, that packaging is particularly important and that they resort to exoticism in lieu of quality. As I said, I have enjoyed the products I've had, although I am no expert on chocolate production.

Did I miss mention of the Mexican bar with the powdered chipotle? The packaging is luxe, the price is positively blood thinning, and the chocolate is, well, nice.

I do not have the pleasure of knowing Klc, and what goes into his definition of "gimmick," but I am afraid I am inclined to agree with him. There is a lot of flotsam passing as pearls of knowledge floating around about exactly how the Aztecs and Mayas took their chocolate. My tendency is to consult works by Sophie a/o Michael Coe (True History of Chocolate, etc.) and Bernadino Sahagun (History of the Things of New Spain/Florentine Codex) on the anthropological and archaeological use of chocolate, and then defer to the botanists, chemists, and certain pastry and chocolate adepts - most principally Torres. This requires hip waders, as there is a lot of hooey out there on the subject: Yes, it was sometimes sweetened, but with sweetener from plant sources other than sugar cane; yes it was consumed hot, cold, spicy, peppery, or bitter.

I believe that at least one of the Vosges owners trained/worked/staged w/Albert Adria - whether at El Bulli, or at the ChocoVic school, I do not remember. I have always taken that as the 'reason' for the flavors. But those chocolates seem off the mark from the trajectory of Adria.

Theabroma

Edited by theabroma (log)

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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