Bad chocolate from France?

I picked up these little chocolate squares when I was in the Paris airport, leaving at the end of my trip in 2006.

I liked that the wrappers joined together to make a scene from downtown Paris. And that’s about all I liked. The milk chocolate was terrible. I know I am not a fan of it, but I expected more from French chocolate that I bought in France. Then again, I did buy it at a little shop at the airport. What could I realistically expect?

The darkest chocolate

While in France in 2006, I stopped into a grocery store for some water and a snack, and I discovered an aisle filled with very high end chocolate bars. I found this Michel Cluizel bar that I just had to try.

Yes, you are reading that label correctly. This bar had a cacao percentage of 99%, which is pretty much pure chocolate with just a dash of sugar to sweeten it. I ate it, and of course, it tasted like a bar of baking chocolate. It was bitter and had a deep earthy flavor, with a roasted aftertaste. I can’t say I liked it, but it was quite an experience to eat it. In hindsight, I should have baked something with it instead. That way I could have tasted it and enjoyed it.

My first Vietnamese chocolate

In late 2009, I found a bag with some chocolate labels that I had misplaced after a move. It contained some labels as old as four years, so some of the next posts will seem to have jumped back in time a bit. My apologies for the discontinuity.

My world traveler friend Lucy brought me back a bar from a trip to Vietnam in 2006.

I was excited to try chocolate from Vietnam for the first time, and as milk chocolate goes, it wasn’t bad. I must admit that I couldn’t taste anything distinguishing about it, so I suspect the cacao percentage was low. Still, this was a cool label to add to my collection!

Chocolate and coffee

My boyfriend Dave gave me this Scharffenberger bar in the summer of 2006.

It was absolutely delicious. You might think, well of course it is, it’s Scharffenberger! But I have come to realize that, while I don’t like coffee, I love coffee mixed with chocolate. And not just in bar form. I love mocha drinks and chocolate-covered coffee beans and mocha ice cream, and at the beach this summer, my favorite ice cream was coffee with dark chocolate chunks. Damn, that was good.

In that sense, coffee is like my anti-raisin. I like raisins, but I don’t like anything that contains raisins, like raisin bread, raisin bagels, or raisin bran cereal. I want my raisins by themselves, which is exactly unlike how I want my coffee, which should be mixed into other things. With chocolate.