In anticipation of the closing of the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory, we went there on Sunday to stock up on some of their limited editions since we wouldn’t be seeing those again. There’s this one guy behind the counter who is always there and crazy nice to us. We spent much time lamenting the closing of the factory and saying how we’d miss it all. We always walk out of there wishing we could invite him for a beer or set him up with one of our single friends. (He’s married folks so too bad on that one). Anyway, while we were buying our chocolate, the friendly guy behind the counter was talking to one of the Scharffen Berger chocolate makers. He introduced us to her and go in a conversation about how different chocolate tastes when its right out of the vat as opposed to having been tempered and cooled into bars. We heard about fingers being dipping into molten vats of chocolate. At the end of the conversation, the chocolate maker offered to give us a taste of some freshly made chocolate if we came when she was working. In fact, she said, “come tomorrow, bring strawberries.”
We weren’t going to pass this opportunity up and we rushed home from work to get to the factory by 5:30 as the shop was closing up and the guy behind the counter could give the chocolate maker a heads up to bring in the chocolate. After some time chatting up the guy behind the counter, the Chocolate Maker came out in her lab outfit and hair net with a ginormous bowl of melted chocolate. It came straight out of the vat and hadn’t even been tempered yet. It was heaven in a bowl, clear and simple.
What I was most floored by was how smooth the chocolate tasted. This was 70% bittersweet and it didn’t taste bitter, just intense. We first dipped strawberries into the chocolate but when the strawberries ran out the real fun began. Eating the straight up chocolate is like a good piece of fruit in season you really FELT the chocolate going into your body. I realize that whatever people say about wine that I totally don’t get, like berry notes and shit, I totally taste in that bowl of pure chocolate. What I tasted the most of was a hazelnut flavor. While nothing other than sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla was added to the chocolate, that batch taste strongly of hazelnuts and pear.
Afterwards we both felt giddy and a little bit high from the chocolate. But a little while later, I felt a deep melancholy that Hershey’s thinks this kind of care and commitment to craft is so disposable. If anyone has a couple of hundred million dollars laying around, there’s so good chocolate to be made.