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Chocolate for Dinert? (Dinner + Dessert)

Our world is going through a chocolate Renaissance. During the past 3 years I've found confectioners in Paris, Chicago, the Bay Area (and south ) all doing exciting and exploratory things with chocolate.

In 2004, I came across Parisian chocolatier Richart and they were taking the herbal approach to chocolate- exotic fruits like grapefruit, but also floral (jasmine) and tea-infused chocolate. Who knows how long they've been doing it but how late I was to the game was quickly revealed when I learned they already had a downtown San Francisco store. During that trip, I also twice returned to Marais' Cacao et Chocolat store. They take a more historical and ancient marketing and packaging approach by playing up the Mayan culture and origins of the bean. Their blends at the time were more focused on regional ingredients like vanilla and chili and cayenne pepper, in addition to a few imports like cardmom (all the way from India).

However late to the game I may still be, I believe we are still mid-Renaissance. Notably, Austrian chocolatier Zotter is going head to head with American sensibilities to keep church and state other words, keeping dinner separate from dessert. With flavors like coffee-plum with caramelized bacon, organic beer (for those with a sweet and who take their meals in a bottle) and lemon polenta chocolate, I'm wondering why I don't find moussaka chocolate and wasabi chocolate with brown rice--why stop at just a few main course elements (like bacon)?

I would love to know just who the target market for the 70% cacao Paradise Apple and Liquid Olive chocolate bar I bought was. Maybe Europeans have been eating this stuff for years! Kudos to the ever-famous San Francisco gathering point for world chocolates, Fog City News for stocking it. They got me--a snobbish cacao adventurer who dramatically dismisses the prospect of eating anything less than 60% cacao (unless in the throes of that time of month).

Even more intriguing is the apple-olive chocolate's ingredient list: chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, olive oil and olives, full cream milk powder, tomato mark and tomato powder, raisins, fructose-glucose syrup, almonds, lemon juice, hazelnuts, Grappa; soy lecithin, salt and chili were the emulsifiers.

So what first hits you against the backdrop of a decent dark chocolate is the olive and salt followed by the apple finish. Martini lovers rejoice! Eat dinert first, we might have an earthquake.

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