If you really get into the sources and processes of the chocolate you eat, you’ll be likely to start feeling the tension between chocolate farm, manufacturers, and ‘chocolatiers’. To me it somehow became a playfull quest to figure out wether a ‘chocolatier’ works with his own bean-to-bar process (like Amedei, Bonnat etc) or if he is ‘merely’ a ‘pralinier’ who buys source material from e.g. Callebaut or Belcolade (eg Dominique Persoone). There’s nothing wrong with the latter, except off course if they’re trying to hide too hard. Like where would La Maison Du Chocolat buy theirs? I know where Galler is buying most of theirs
The other time when I was in Paris I finally had the time to visit the small shop of Pierre Hermé at Rive Gauche, St Germain. It was at that time when I got intrigued by hunting down what chocolate these world class chocolatiers were actually using. Previous efforts trying to demistify a Callebaut, Belcolade or Chocovic in chocolatier stores got me angry faces more than once
People queueing outside the street made clear where the action was. The store was looking gorgeous: small, clean, modern with a lot of sobrely designed wood putting all of the macarons and chocolate creations right in the centre of your attention. What caught my attention really were the prices! I don’t even dare to mention some of the ganache and truffles! On the shelves I spotted some bars including a “Origine Porcelana”, priced at a fat 10€. Wow, that is what I’d start to call really expensive stuff! I’ve bought Amedei at that price knowing that it was worth it, but here it was an investment for the truth. Turning towards a employee asking what the bar was made of, to my pleasant suprise he instantly revealed it was from Valrhona. I was struck by his open attitude as if he was used to answer the question. It even made me buy the overpriced Porcelana and some other bars to check out this Valrhona creation.
I don’t know what Hermé or Valrhona did wiht the bar, but I frankly was dissappointed. Where’s the taste gone, even the pacaking was rather cheap, with a bar coming wrapped in plastic foil. I had tasted much better Valrhona from their Plantation series in 2005 and 2006, but this one didn’t even come close to Porcelana As Magritte would say: ‘This is not a chocolate bar’. Lesson learned: if you want bars, buy bars from passionate bean-to-bar manufacturers.