Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cracking the Chocolate Cache

Right now I'm savoring the loot from my Surfas raid in Culver City - Vosges chocolate bars! And to my pleasant surprise, it was significantly discounted ($5.78 a bar vs. regular price $7 at their Web site or their boutique [closest one is in Vegas] or at one of their select retailers [Neiman-Marcus in Beverly Hills]).

Unfortunately, one of my favorite bars, the Red Fire (right)- sublime dark chocolate accented with spicy chile and cinnamon - was unavailable. However, my other top choice - the Black Pearl (above), with subtle yet amazing combo of wasabi, sesame & ginger (to quote Rachael Ray, the 3 turns into this wondrous "flavor that makes you go hmmm.") - is.

Their other bars (and truffles) incorporate a variety of other exotic ingredients, from balsamic vinegar and olive oil to curry to star anise & fennel. As strange (bordering on repulsive) some of these flavors may seem, all the "weird" flavors I've tried thus far have worked out -- which says a lot about owner/chocolatier Katrina Markoff's creativity with different tastes and ability to make them work.

Of course, there are less adventurous/scary selections too -- include classic chocolate ganache truffles (at a surprising 85% cacao) and almond-hazelnut bars.

But right now, I had the delightful pleasure of eating two squares out of the Woolloomooloo bar (and no, I'll never attempt to vocalize that word in public), which is midway on the tame to exotic scale (it's filled with hemp seeds, coconut flakes, and salted macadamia nut bits.) Again, I was not disappointed, the creamy, tropical scent of the coconut matched well with the buttery crunch from the macadamias and the refreshing kick of the hemp seed--not to mention the smooth, fragrant dark milk chocolate.

My only regret was not stockpiling on more bars during my last trip there.

Vosges chocolate photos courtesy of Erika Dufour Photography



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