German chocolate

The fall of 1995 was a banner season for chocolate. My roommate Larry had a friend visit from Germany, and Sabina brought a lot of chocolate with her from the old country. She had heard I liked the stuff, and she wanted me to taste a wide range of bars that were common in her area of Germany.

First we tried this bar. I thought it might be white chocolate because in the U.S. almost all white chocolate is in a white wrapper, but no, this was dark. A wonderful  bittersweet chocolate.

We also tried two other dark bars. This one was not very sweet and I loved it.

The next was a bit lighter colored and creamier but still dark and delicious.

Then there were two other chocolate bars. I liked them, but they were not outstanding like the previous three. The first was very bland, almost like a Hershey bar.

The second one claimed to be a bittersweet bar but that was contradicted by the big word “Milka” and the picture of the cow! It was a milk chocolate bar all right, and it tasted…well, it tasted OK. It wasn’t fantastic and it wasn’t bad, either. It was an OK chocolate bar.

One last word about German chocolate wrappers. I liked how colorful they were. Most chocolate wrappers are some shade of brown or black, but these were nice pastel colors. I guess they have different marketing rules there than a lot of other countries.


Chocolat noir!

In February of 1995, my boss Tom gave me a chocolate bar that his mother had picked up. It was a Canadian dark chocolate truffle bar, and it was excellent, very rich and very smooth.

A few months later, my friend Mark introduced me to Valrhona for the first time.

Ah, Valrhona…I will meet you again and again over the years to come, and you will never disappoint me. This French brand is always excellent, and back in 1995 it was hard to find. Now it’s available in Trader Joe’s and high-end grocery stores, but back then, the occasional Valrhona bar was a treat. These bars I always ate by themselves, and I never used them to bake with. They were too amazing for that.

What is it about French-speaking countries and great chocolate? This was one of the first rules I learned. If I saw “chocolat noir” on the wrapper, I expected a great bar inside.