When is posh chocolate not posh? Does good quality chocolate have to be expensive? Do you really only get what you pay for?
As part of my unstinting quest for the best chocolate, I decided to visit… LIDL.
For those who are unaware, LIDL is a ‘pile it high, flog it cheap’, no frills supermarket chain which sells what can only be described as a bizarre assortment of goods. For example, last week we had a LIDL flyer advertising equestrian goods and accessories!
So what prompted me to consider this as a potential source of quality cocoa-based goodies? Well, LIDL import a lot of their goods from Germany, and Germany – being part of the European continent, and neighbour to France and Belgium, has a good choccy pedigree. This despite the fact that as a boy my Polish grandmother would give me bars of the worst tasting ‘ersatz’ chocolate ever created – stuff that doesn’t even deserve to be called chcocolate (and which probably had never seen a cocoa bean in it’s short and tragic life)
So in I went, on a mission to see:
- if there was anything worth getting
- if it was worth eating
- would it be expensive?
Would I come home with something gloriously tasty, or would I find the Victoria Beckham of chocolate – posh in name only?
Well I can report that there’s an awful lot of confectionery to be had there, and most of it consisted of bags of garishly coloured sugar based stuff, the likes of which fuel the ASBO accumulating hyperactive offspring of council estates across the UK. There are also the usual Twix-alikes, Kinder bars, and Euro-copies of well known UK bars. Not very appealing at all.
However – nestling in among the nastiness, I espied a selection of tall packages embossed with gold writing. What appeared to be Ecuadorian single estate chocolate, 70% cocoa. Bingo!
A quick look at the blurb on the back told me that it was indeed Ecuadorian plantation chocolate, made from the Arriba bean, and that “The varying tropical climate together with a wealth of experience in the cultivating of this high class cocoa bean, gathered over generations, and not least the the excellent combining and perfecting of the best wholesome ingredients, are all factors which make up the secret hidden in the blissful depths of the fine J. D. Gross Plain Chocolate.”
Phew – a big enough mouthful in itself!
So let’s get down to a hands-on analysis. The packaging is very high quality. Rather than a standard ‘box’ you get a ‘book’ type package with a front flap that opens to reveal a gold foil covered bar, which slips out to the left. The bar itself is a very good looking product. Large, thick squares embossed with the J. D. Gross name and crest.
The Sniff Test confirms the blurb – dark, rich coca smells with a slightly bitter edge. Yum!
The chocolate itself is, quite simply. delicious. As good as any I have tasted recently – and that includes the stuff wrapped round the Hotel Chocolat selection I was given at Xmas. (Admittedly, the HC fillings were what sets them aside from all other chocolates). There is no denying that this is the Good Stuff. Proper, cocoa rich dark, bittersweet loveliness – and all for under 90p.
My advice – hit your local LIDL as soon as possible. There are some real treasures in there, folks.