Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Brussels/Bruxelles: Man does not live by bread alone

Wittamer Chocolates
What makes one decide to visit a place? Is it inspiration? Is it long buried desire? Is it whim? In my case it was none of those. I was looking for a place that was a bargain at this time of year and I stumbled upon Brussels. When I say bargain, I mean bargain. Expedia had an incredible flight/hotel deal that was lovely. The Stanhope Hotel (about which I will write later is a 5 ***** hotel)
First let us tackle the chocolate scene. For some, chocolate may as well be a religion. For me, it is a lovely delicious taste sensation. One of my first stops in Brussels was Wittamer. Brussels is not only famous for its chocolates, it is particularly famous for its pralines and its creme fraiche chocolates. The creme fraiche ones can not be left out too long. They must be consumed within a certain amount of time. I bought some based upon what their fillings were and then divided them according to the Wittamer divisions: Ganache, Alcools, Creme Fraiche. I set them up side by side and tasted. Below are the notes on my little chocolate tasting.

Le Ganache

1. Earl Grey (Dark ganache from Earl Grey tea): Chocolate aroma before you bite into it. Difficult to really get an Earl Grey flavor or aroma. Just tastes like ganache. I am a big earl grey fan so I am very in tune to the flavors of Earl Grey but nothing here. Disappointing

2. Poivre (Dark ganache with Madagascar pepper): Chocolate aroma. Once you bite into it, you can smell the pepper and you think it is going to be spicy,that it is going to light your tongue on fire but it doesn't. It's weird. All of the pepper flavor but none of the heat. White pepper and black pepper. I like this a lot.

Les Alcools:

1. Palet d'Or (Cognac ganache): Chocolate aroma. A little cognac flavor and aroma but nothing major. You get cognac flavor but it is subtle. At least it isn't liquid.

Le Cremes Fraiches

1. Bouchon Grand Marnier (Fresh cream with Grand Marnier): Once you bite into this there is a creamy, almost marshmallow like consistency. You definitely taste the grandma. Good orange flavor, not overwhelming cognac. I thought it might but it doesn't. But still, you get the alcohol. Strong finish

2. Leslie (Fresh cream with candied pineapple and black chocolate): Dark chocolate flavors but muddied otherwise, Don't really get a sense of the pineapple at first. A kind of artificial flavor and then just a hint of pineapple and it goes away. Too bad, I was looking forward to this. I love pineapples. The only one I did not finish.

3. Carioca (Fresh cream with the coffee of Colombia): Intense rich coffee flavor but in a light kind of mousse way. After the cream evaporates the dark chocolate shell flavors come out. Very nice.

My favorite was the Poivre followed by the Grand Marnier and the Carioca. How they managed to get the pepper flavor without the spice, I'd really like to know. As for the rest, they felt average, which is really too bad since I had heard so much about this chocolatier.

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