It was Raul who opened my eyes to the magic created between local ingredients and chocolate.
“Believe it or not, Lori, I’m a Filipino first and last.” That was what Raul Matias, chocolatier and proprietor of Machiavelli Chocolatier told me when we first met. After several forays abroad plumbing the divine depths of chocolate, he came home to offer his own brand of chocolates to his kababayans. Raul’s fascination with Philippine ingredients bends the boundaries of what they’re typically used for. Negros Crunch Milk utilizes muscovado sugar from Negros, Guava Asia is filled with that tropical fruit, and I’m fond of his Yema Manila. I believe that only a Filipino whose heart beats with patriotic pride could conjure such delicious creativity.
Raul will serve a selection of truffles at the Dessert Comes First Christmas Gift List. First is the undeniably attention-getting Purple Yam Yum because really now, how many purple chocolates have you come across? Milk chocolate enshrouds an ube paste, its bits a pleasant interruption of the synchronicity between this unlikely pairing. As the last swallow goes down, there’s a lingering note of ube awash in the milk it was made in.
I don’t see the Grand Marnier in the truffle it’s named after but its flavor rings through loudly and proudly. The orange-based liqueur laces through the chocolate, subtle and almost soothing but it makes its mark in mouth and memory.
In the two years since I last interviewed Raul, he’s taken to making chocolate bars, elegantly wrapped but beguiling in their simplicity. I chuckle when I find out that he’s actually come out with a bacon bar, somehow the ingredient is at odds with the élan of his store. Alfie’s Bacon Bar is named after Raul’s friend Alfonso, who repeatedly requested for a chocolate bar with bacon bits. “So I finally [did] last Christmas and that’s when I thought of naming it after him,” Raul recounts. “All my chocolate bars (Benny’s Moroccan Bar, Bobby’s Grand Marnier) are named after people who have inspired me.“
Interspersed throughout the Bacon Bar are threads of bacon, sometimes soft but always pleasingly sweet and salty. Chewing on the chocolate alternates hits of smooth pocked with porky pleasure; letting the chocolate melt undisturbed on the tongue leaves me with bits of bacon echoing their salty remnants. Choose your pleasure at the event when Raul serves you squares of this.
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