Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chocolate and where to find it

Every time we visited Europe before we moved here we would hit a chocolate shop or two. Or ten. We'd been to chocolate shops in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Italy. By far my favorite memories are of chocolate from Switzerland (Heine in Luzern) or France. Don't get me wrong, Parkleigh (mere steps from where I used to live in Rochester, NY) had some very tasty bon-bons from Ghiradelli in California. It is also tough to refuse a truffle from Godiva. However, my favorite American chocolate used to be Scharffen Berger or Valrhona and when I lived in the USA I used to seek out Callebaut, which is made in Belgium.

So, just imagine my anticipation of actually living in Europe, steps away from European chocolate shops. My mouth watered the entire plane ride over. When we spotted our first glimpse of one, in downtown Eindhoven, we bolted to buy a nice assortment of bon-bons. As I tasted them, one after the other, I couldn't help but feel strange. These weren't what I was expecting. Wait a minute, I said, we are 20 minutes drive from Belgium now! The chocolate here should blow me away! We tried another shop in the Netherlands. And another. And another... I'm not saying that any of these chocolates tasted bad, of course. I'm just saying that they are maybe a step down from Ghiradelli or Godiva. Of course they are better than Bakers chocolate, or a Hershey bar. But I was puzzled. Where was the Callebaut at every street corner?

It turns out that the Dutch have very different preferences for chocolate than the French, for example. If you bring bon-bons from the Netherlands back to the US, people will say they are good. So it isn't you, its me. I must just have taste buds that are more like French people.

Twenty minutes away from Belgium and where is the Callebaut? At the watermill, of course! Genneper Park watermolen, located in Eindhoven, sells chocolate chips made from Callebaut chocolate. SCORE!
Here are some other tidbits I found there:
Chocolate chips are called "chocoladedruppels". A 500g bag of the Callebaut ones is 5.95 euros. They come in normal size and also mini chip size. I get my flour for cookies and cakes here and it is called zeeuwse bloem. Most similar to an all-purpose flour in the USA, zeeuwse bloem has been great in a country dominated by bread flour. The poeder suiker (powdered sugar) they sell there is similar to Domino's in the USA, perfect for icing and frostings. Do not buy the poeder suiker from AH for anything other than a brief sprinkle on pancakes. It is too grainy for frosting.

Don't worry, I got my chocolate fix: in Switzerland at the Cailler factory in Broc.
The chocolate there completely blew me away. It was difficult to select which chocolate treats to buy because they all tasted good. Oh yes, they had a tasting room.... unsupervised.... and it was not a dream. I have pictures to prove it.

We brought home as much as my husband would allow me...
...and it was gone in less than a week. Guess we'll have to go back!

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