A few months without unadulterated access to baking supplies, ethnic delicacies, and renowned chocolate feels like forever. Yes, I miss eating and using these things that I can’t normally acquire down the street. Yes, I long for some more chocolate bar wrappers to admire and tuck away ‘for later.’ But I mostly miss the thrill of the purchase itself – the ability to walk from one specialty shop to the next, stopping to admire window displays, and perusing the shelves if my eye is caught by the glimmer of something inside. I’m a terrific consumer. And so recently, I found myself back in Boston.
This time around, I was meeting up with a friend, and we were staying with another friend, so my chocolate objectives had to cool it a bit. I did make it back to Hotel Chocolat, and I also hopped across the street to Teuscher, which was closed the last time I was on Newbury Street. No Formaggio Kitchen this time, as I had to leave town well before they opened for the day.
There were a string of positives associated with this trip, however. I finally made it to Modern Pastry. We followed the entire length of the Freedom Trail, climbed the Bunker Hill monument, and watched the coolest 10-minute diorama performance ever. It was so enthralling that we watched it three times. Most importantly, I convinced the near-surly employee at Mike’s Pastry to give me a (convenient-for-storing-chocolate-bar-wrappers-) box, even though I was only buying a pound of cookies. And ohhh, the cookies. Italian leaf cookies, my best sweet memory from childhood (except for cream puffs… and fry bread…. and strawberries).
I actually didn’t purchase a whole bevy of chocolates. But I saw some of them, and I know that the rest are out there, somewhere. Yet to be purchased, and enjoyed. And as a plus, the bars that I did buy are fantastic.
From Teuscher, I chose a 50% Dark with Roasted Almonds (Dunkle Schokolade mit gerösteten Mandeln), as well as a 55% Dark with Lemon. I would consider both bars much more Milk than Dunkle, but Teuscher has spoken and Dunkle it is. I found it to be a satisfying treat, but nothing out of the ordinary. Each square of chocolate has a whole almond in it, which while tasty (and tasteful) is not very inspired. The lemon bar, however, is wonderful. I’ve only had one other lemon-flavored chocolate bar before, Vivani’s 70% Dark Chocolate with Lemon. Where Vivani falls flat at convenying a complex lemon flavor, Teuscher succeeds, with a stylish 50g bar easily broken into bite-sized blocks.
I have often thought that darker chocolate lends itself as a vessel to flavors, while milk chocolate is more inhibitory. After all, it’s filled with extra (useless?) ingredients. When comparing between Vivani and Teuscher’s lemon bars, though, I easily choose the 55% over the 70% for a successful pairing with lemon. However, it’s important to keep in mind the chocolate that these companies are using. Wikipedia states that Teuscher is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, but information on the origins of their chocolate is hard to find. Packaging is limited as well, as Teuscher can rely on the significance that their name carries. Vivani chocolate (debuted in 2000) comes from small-scale farming cooperatives in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, and their advertising scheme is two-fold: using artwork by Annette Wessel on their packaging, and touting their product as Organic. However, enough about Vivani. More about Boston.
The other bar that I bought, from Hotel Chocolat, was a 90% dark delight originating from the Hacienda Iara estate in Ecuador. Made from Nacional Arriba cacao, this chocolate is mysteriously dark, and surprisingly lovely. Following the instructions (I always enjoy it when my chocolate comes with instructions), I let a small piece melt in my mouth, before slowly savoring a second piece. The flavors were intense and complex; Hotel Chocolat labels them as dried fruits, roasted nuts and a hint of jasmine, but I label them as great. Being that the chocolate was so very dark, it left a somewhat dry taste in my mouth. This ‘problem,’ however, was easily remedied with another square of Teuscher’s Dunkle Schokolade.
To tempt you:
Hotel Chocolat Boston location
141A Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland Boston location
230 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
Bunker Hill Museum …where you will find my newest and most favoritest diorama!
43 Monument Square
Charlestown, MA 02129
Free! (but also, priceless)