THE JOY OF CHOCOLATE by fdjerue7eeu


									                                                                       THE JOY OF
                                                                       THE SWEETEST OF
                                                                       PLEASURES                      Shauna Hardy

       ome claim it’s their preferred indulgence, others say they’re   century, chocolate houses had begun springing up all over

S      hopelessly addicted. Many will declare that it is simultane-
       ously capable of lifting dampened spirits and producing a
euphoric high that not even sex can replicate. Rich and luscious-
                                                                       Europe with the upper crust flocking to these cafés to enjoy the
                                                                       hot, foamy drink. Drinking chocolate became a sweet afternoon
                                                                       indulgence that was shared with friends while discussing the
ly enticing, it’s our favourite temptation—to the tune of $42.5        latest political intrigues and racy bits of society gossip.
billion a year. But satisfying a chocolate craving has come a long           While the obsession with chocolate grew steadily with each
way from just reaching for that regular dime-store variety bar.        passing year, people had to content themselves with a liquefied hit.
These days, imaginative minds from coast to coast are pushing          Finally, during the 19th century, an ingenious Dutchman by the
the chocolate envelope, infusing it with ingredients as diverse as     name of Coenraad Van Houten began melting cocoa butter and
lavender, olive oil, mushrooms and tobacco leaves.                     combining it with a blend of cocoa beans and sugar. Suddenly, the
      The roots of our love affair with chocolate are ancient,         heavens opened up and solid chocolate, in all its glory, was
spilling back more than 1,500 years to the Mayan era. During           conceived. Things have moved at hyper-speed since then—white
that period, the cocoa bean held a sacred place within the culture     chocolate, milk chocolate, thick creamy bars and tiny morsels filled
as its tree was believed to belong to the gods. The bean became a      with gooey caramel or sweeter-than-sweet maraschino cherries
symbol of life and fertility and was used in a thick, sumptuous        have been tantalizing the taste buds of the masses.
drink that was offered only to the very height of nobility. Just             The fascination with chocolate, however, isn’t enjoyed
don’t confuse this initial form of hot chocolate with the creamy,      purely by those who eat it. For Geneviève Grandbois, chocolate
sweet treat that we all love to indulge in on a cold winter’s night.   literally changed her life. As a child, the artistic Montrealer
Thick and lumpy, the bitter brew was seasoned with spicy chili         always dreamt of a life in the cinema. While pursuing her
                                                                                                                                               Photos: Dominique and Cindy Duby

peppers and bore a very strong resemblance to porridge.                passion, Grandbois took a part-time job in a pastry shop to earn
      Cocoa’s association with luxury gained more and more             a little money on the side. One day, she attended a chocolate
prominence over the centuries. The Aztecs used the bean as a           seminar and was immediately spellbound. “I just saw the
form of currency, and when Cortés had his first sip upon arriving      infinite possibilities,” she says simply. “I remember saying to
in the New World, he immediately saw its commercial potential.         myself ‘Wouldn’t this be a fun way to make a living?’”
The Spaniards soon began setting up plantations in the                       Grandbois began making confections from home and
Caribbean and South America—effectively helping to spread the          noticed that her friends were enjoying the results of her
good word of chocolate to the rest of the world. By the 17th           newfound pastime as much as she was. The pull of chocolate

42 THE NEWCANADIANMAGAZINE                                                                                                      NOVEMBER2005
w w w . n e w c a n a d i a n . c o m

                                                                                                                                               THE JOY OF CHOCOLATE
                                                                            Whether it’s a sumptuous side of roast beef or a sweet post-
                                                                      dinner treat, we begin eating with our eyes, according to
                                                                      Dominique. We immediately evaluate whether food looks appe-
                                                                      tizing, and are much more inclined to gravitate toward products
                                                                      that are pleasantly presented. Previously, chocolatiers were
                                                                      limited to four rather bland colour choices for their creations.
                                                                      The Dubys ambitiously leapt over this hurdle and incorporated
                                                                      a rainbow of shades into their chocolate line by employing
                                                                      pantones—a colour system principally used by printers and
                                                                      graphic designers. They also began experimenting with new
                                                                      shapes, incorporating eye-catching textured designs into their
                                                                      moulds. Gone are the standard dark squares, replaced by pale
                                                                      green leaves and crisply-cut multi-hued geometric designs.
                                                                            The centres of the Wild Sweets Inaugural Collection, which
                                                                      was launched in the winter of 2004, are as equally colourful as
  Chocolatiers Dominique and Cindy                                    their packaging. “If you limit your palate of creativity to the
                                                                      sweet world, you are limiting yourself to what is already
  Duby perfect their recipe.                                          available and there is very little that is new,” says Dominique.
                                                                      “You have to literally start with a clean slate, a fresh imagina-
                                                                      tion and absolutely no inhibitions.” The Dubys refuse to cling to
was irresistible, and soon she launched a business of her own.        preconceived notions about what should and shouldn’t be
She focused strictly on dark chocolate and began experimenting.       paired with chocolate, and focus simply on how tastes meld
Grandbois created variations on classic combinations, making          together. Bonito and passion fruit, smoked paprika and carrot
small adjustments, such as using honey instead of sugar, to           juice, tomato water and an olive oil emulsion with lemon thyme
create new tastes. Her vision began with small tentative steps        jelly have all been instant hits. The ChocoWine Estate Series,
and has blossomed into a flight of taste bud-tingling imagina-        which expertly matches award-winning Canadian wines with
tion. She has worked with everything from passion fruit purée         everything from cherries and violets to strawberries and
and porto to olive oil, tobacco leaves and cayenne pepper, with       licorice, has been met with equal enthusiasm. “We often test
results that are always inspiring. “I am always looking for sur-      our creations on children,” laughs Cindy. “The trick is not to tell
prising, delicate flavours,” she explains. “It’s not enough to come   them what they are eating. To the ear, the combinations sound
up with an original combination—it has to be good. I’m looking        daunting. But once you’ve experienced them for yourself, you
for harmony; I’m looking to fall in love with it.”                    can’t get over the taste that’s been created.”
     While there is no denying the quality of Grandbois’s                   Like wine, the appreciation of chocolate has seemingly
creations, it is her artistic philosophy that makes her products      become more complex. Aficionados evaluate delicate morsels
so special. Last Valentine’s Day, she gave her box of nine classic    based on the smell, the origins of the cocoa beans and the
chocolates a special romantic twist. Upon opening the simple          quality of the texture. While it might seem that its enjoyment
silver tin, the lucky recipient was treated to a beautiful verse of   has become much more cerebral in nature, at the end of the
poetry printed on a wafer-thin square of chocolate. At Easter,        day, there is only one question that really matters. Whether it’s
Grandbois commissioned her daughter’s kindergarten class to           an elegant dark chocolate truffle infused with an exotic
draw the pastel-coloured rabbits and chicks that adorned the          ganache or a simple bar of the creamiest milk chocolate, the
faces of her squares. This originality, at once intimate and          only thing that we really want to know is how does it taste?
poetic, has transformed eating a piece of chocolate into an           Does it bring a smile to your lips? Does it feel like the next best
emotional, joyful experience. “Chocolate is related directly to       thing to a mini-vacation? Does it fill you with the type of gleeful
pleasure. It is infused with childhood memories and the               anticipation that turns you into the equivalent of an excited
happiness of family,” she attests. “My job isn’t about supplying      five-year-old? If the answer to any of these questions is yes,
people with something that is necessary or obligatory to their        then you have truly discovered the joy of chocolate.
lives. My job is about supplying pure pleasure.”
     Dominique and Cindy Duby embrace a philosophy similar to
Grandbois’s, understanding that the joy of chocolate is not
something that is experienced solely through the taste buds.
“The product must instill an emotion,” explains Dominique. “It is
very similar to a museum trip. It is something to be experienced
by all of the senses, appreciated and sought after for no other
reason than pure delight.” World-acclaimed pâtissiers and
chocolatiers based in Richmond, British Columbia, the couple
use a process known as molecular gastronomy to develop new
textures and tastes that deliver a complete multi-sensory experi-
ence. Part science and part psychology, the pair is prone to using
temperature-controlled water baths, magnetic stirrers, conden-
sation units and a vacuum microwave as often as the standard
operating tools of their trade. “Making chocolate is a technique,”
continues Dominique. “We are discovering and using scientific
principles to simply improve upon that technique.”

NOVEMBER2005                                                                                                    THE NEWCANADIANMAGAZINE   43

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