Getting the chance to spend a weekend at an apartment loaned to us by Habitat Parisien was a great opportunity to accomplish two things: explore a Parisian neighborhood with which we were unfamiliar and invite some friends over for a small party. We’ll tell you about the neighborhood in our next blog post. Today, we’re sharing the details about our little social gathering — a dégustation that we organized with Marie-Hélène Gantois of Mococha Chocolat. We invited eight persons to the apartment for an event that was filled with laughter, conversation, and chocolate!
Marie arrived early to set up. She brought three varieties of single-origin, dark-chocolate bars (75% chocolate), booklets containing information to accompany the event, and a number of flavored ganaches (filled chocolates) to taste.
After Marie gave an overview of chocolate production, she had us take a quiz that revealed our chocolate personality. It consisted of eleven multiple-choice questions, the answers to which showed that I am a choco-intuitive personality, one who is “hypersensitive to beautiful things.” Monique turned out to be a choco-festive type, a person who likes to share with a group.
Marie proceeded to have us taste the chocolate bars, one by one. Produced by Patrice Chapon, they were made from cocoa beans from Equador, Peru, and Cuba. I liked the one from Cuba the best—it had an earthy flavor and the longest finish.
Tasting chocolate doesn’t mean that you just pop a morsel into your mouth and gulp it down. Oh no! We followed a meticulous procedure that included clearing the palate (drinking a small amount of water), breaking the piece of chocolate (to listen to its “snap”), smelling the chocolate (to experience its aroma), allowing a piece to melt on the tongue (to taste it), and observing the lingering effects of the chocolate in the mouth (to identify its aftertaste).
After following this tasting procedure, which required great restraint on the part of all of the participants, Marie proceeded to conduct a blind test of filled chocolates. She offered a chocolate ganache to each of us and invited us to identify the flavors in each one. The first person to identify them would win a prize! Basil was the first flavor to be correctly identified, followed by ginger, coco-cinnamon, and tonka bean, No one identified the wasabi in the second ganache, but we all enjoyed trying!
Finally, Marie offered us a bonus chocolate — a paper-thin disc reminiscent of a large communion wafer that was flavored with cumin and paprika. One of our invitees correctly identified the paprika but no one could identify the cumin.
In the end, everybody won a prize—a box of four ganaches to take home. These chocolates were made by the three master chocolate makers that Marie features in her shop: Fabrice Gillotte, Jacques Bellanger, and Patrice Chapon.
The tasting event lasted about three hours, but we barely noticed — time passes quickly when you are having fun!
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