Every time I get my hands on chocolate I’ve never tried before, I’m really not quite myself. Like an addict with his stash, a fiend with new shoes, a hag with a new bag, I’m a closet chocoholic. I run my fingers greedily across the wrappers, reveling in their smoothness. I put the bars up to my nose and inhale deeply: tantalizing little fragrances of chocolate have seeped through the paper fibers and up my nose, setting off alarm bells in the pleasure hotspots of my brain.
My eyes are beads running through the letters swirling in hues of silver, russet, and champagne. Somehow I can make out the names: Funky Monkey (marshmallows and crispies); The Rock (hazelnuts and almonds); Health Nut (sugar free milk chocolate with pistachios and cashews); and B-52 (caramel and Bailey’s). In the radio of my mind, “Roam” by the B-52s starts playing.
I remember reading about chocolate visionary Michael Recchiuti’s advice on how to taste chocolate: “… start [with the chocolate] with the least amount of sugar. Then bite off a piece and let it rest on your tongue to slowly release the flavors … First time, focus on texture. The second time, focus on flavor. And the third time, just enjoy it.” Eh? I say to heck with that. I work backwards: enjoyment, flavor, texture.
I unwrap all four chocolates one after the other, the crinkling of the wrappers a countdown to pleasure. Most people would finish a bar before moving on to the next. Not me. I want to taste them all at the same time one after the other; there’s no middle ground with me. This is chocolate, are you kidding me?
Four bars: two brown and two a graffiti of white on dark and dark on white. I break them in half on the diagonal; each splits cleanly with a resounding snap!. Ah, a sign of quality tempering. My eyes rove over the chocolates’ naked surfaces — unwrinkled and creamy, their smoothness pocked only by an errant almond or pistachio.
My heart pounds at the aroma of chocolate enveloping the air I breathe. The smell is a wave crashing on the shores of my tongue, which is watering incessantly. Any time now. Soon, the chocolatey perfume triumphs over my every sense and before I know it, a gentle richness is filling my mouth. Flavors of fruit and caramel tiptoe onto my tongue, pitter-pattering and picking up the pace, transforming into a jaunty two-step of taste. Nuts shatter the serenity with their staccato but not unpleasantly so, then the sweetness comes and disappears.
So good is this chocolate that my moments merge with the flavor. I’m chewing slowly, mindfully, piece after piece. A sensual overdrive in my very own un paradis de chocolat. Unspoken, but surely there in my subconscious mind is the phrase, “Perhaps the best chocolate available in Manila.”
Available at the Edsa Shangri-La’s Bakeshop.
Also available at selected Candy Corner and Nuts About Candy shops and Santis Deli outlets.