I am no stranger to coincidence. I find things, things find me. For example, I managed to locate an old friend who had moved to Milan just by looking on the internet. That, however is not the coincidence that concerns us here. It just so happens that right across from my hotel, on the Via Suzzani, is a small artisan chocolate shop run by a gentleman by the name of Franco Aguzzi.
In the interests of research and in order to avoid any more obvious flavours, I picked out only four of the hand made chocolates. I was also given a small slab of white chocolate studded with coffee beans as an extra sample.
The first chocolate I tried was called ‘Passito’. Franco told me that it was made with a wine that is widely available in Italy and has its origins in Sicily and Tuscany. The chocolate shell barely survived cutting for the photo. It just fell away from the rich, dark truffle filling. When I tasted it, I was immediately impressed with the intensity of the cocoa flavours. Dark, rich cocoa with light citrus topnotes. The wine truffle filling added a wonderfully complex extra sweet note to the mix. It’s a sweet, dessert wine like flavour which blends with the citrusy notes in the chocolate. Superb.
The second truffle was a “Pinot d’oltre Po” which contains a more local, Tuscan wine. The top of the shell was wafer thin, with a good solid base. As the top part of the shell disappeared, a mildly alcoholic, orangey, lemony, flavour complex came flooding out. At it’s peak this chocolate tasted almost like alcoholic pineapple.
The last of the truffles was the “Tronchetto alla Grappa” and, surprise surprise it contained Grappa. You can’t get more italian than that eh? (Well, aside from chocolate pasta I suppose). The shells were slightly thicker than the previous two, and the filling absolutely poured it’s alcoholic, slightly spicy flavours over my tongue. It’s very like a classic liqueur chocolate but without the liquid centre. Milder than a brandy truffle and with a uniquely warm flavour, I really enjoyed this one.
Last up in the dark quartet, I tried a few “Ciliega Candida Ricoperta” – candied cherries to you, matey.
They’re very similar to the cocktail cherries you can buy in the UK. Preserved in sugar and wrapped in the same dark chocolate as their alcoholic brethren, they were definitely sweeter treats. I enjoyed the chocolate more than I did the cherries (but there again I used to eat cocktail cherries when I was a kid).
A slab of white chocolate would never be my finish of choice, but it was recommended to me to try, and well, Italy IS quite well known for coffee, so I accepted. Because they’ve used crushed, roasted coffee beans, the coffee flavour really doesn’t get to come out and play until the chocolate is long gone and I found myself cheerfully crunching the beans for ages, whereas I had merely been waiting for the sweetness of the white chocolate to clear off and leave me and the coffee to our own business.
You can email Cioccolato e Sapori – and I’m willing to bet that Signor Aguzzi will be delighted to send you some of his fine products. Alternatively, if you’re ever in milan and looking for an unusual present for someone, trot on down to Via le Suzzani 12, just on the outskirts of the centre of Milan. Well worth the cab fare.