I love chocolate, but I didn’t really experience truly amazing chocolate until I came to Europe. I try not to indulge too much. On the other hand, when I get invited to a Dutch chocolate tasting, I indulge away!
I’ll never forget the day I gave myself a self-guided tour of the chocolatiers in Brussels and had so much chocolate that I made myself sick. There are many countries that make their own chocolate, and some are impressively good. But how good is good? How do you rate a bar of chocolate? Obviously, there are some brands like Hershey’s 3awthat can hardly be dignified as chocolate.
When it comes to Dutch chocolate, there aren’t any major brands. The place I went to was simply called the Chocolate Company. They make their own Dutch chocolate for use in their hot chocolate mixes and other chocolaty treats. I’ll admit it’s been a couple years since I was eating Belgian chocolate in its homeland, but what I tried in the Netherlands was definitely on par.
While in Rotterdam, I met up with two other bloggers at the Markthal (Market Hall). Among the dozens of stalls on the ground floor was the Chocolate Company. The owner, Mario, was there to greet us.
The tasting started off with a hot chocolate. We got to choose which of the 63 available flavors we wanted. I might have been a little silly, but I went with the tiramisu flavor. In addition to all the usual and unusual flavors, there are also a dozen “deluxe” flavors that include a little vial of liquor to add to the hot chocolate.
Mario used the Belgian style of making hot chocolate, where you take a solid block of chocolate on a wooden spoon and mix it into a mug of hot milk until it fully dissolves. It was rich without being overly sweet and the tiramisu flavor didn’t overpower the chocolate. I could have gone for another, but we had many more items to try.
Along with the hot chocolate, we were each given four truffles with unique flavors such as lavender and ginger. How do I describe that kind of pure chocolate, especially when I grew up thinking that M&Ms were real chocolate? Each of those pieces was an artistic creation. If I didn’t know it would have made me sick, I’d have stayed there all day eating truffles.
Next came the “ice blended” chocolate. That was really interesting. Mario simply took a large, stuffed bonbon and blended it with water and ice cubes. I was surprised at how well it mixed into the ice water. It put Nesquik to shame!
Finally, we came to the killer brownie. Yep, it’s a downright murderer. I don’t know how they packed so much chocolate into that little slice, but it was almost too much, especially since I’d yet to eat anything else that day. Persist I did, and the plate was scraped clean by the time I was ready to go.
As a parting gift, Mario gave us all another hot chocolate spoon to take along. I got “Sex on the Beach” which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t resemble the cocktail at all except perhaps the alcohol is vodka and the chocolate has some red food coloring to make it look peach.
A couple of weeks later, I could resist going back for more. I actually ran across the main cafe where they have a full menu of food, in addition to all their chocolate products. I went with the strawberry Belgian waffle with chocolate fondue and whipped cream. Decadent? Hell yes! Almost more so than the Killer Brownie! It was a good thing I had a three-hour bus ride right after the breakfast and could slip into a food coma.
The chocolate fondue is a big seller for the Chocolate Company. The Dutch use it for barbecues, coating meats with it; similar to a Spanish mole sauce. If I didn’t have luggage restrictions while I travel, I’d have taken a large bag of Dutch chocolate away with me. Luckily I’ll be staying in the Netherlands for a couple more months, so I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy more of it!
What’s your favorite chocolate? Have you tried Dutch chocolate? Why not come visit me while I’m still in the Netherlands and we can go get some together!