Although I myself am not a well-traveled person, the travels of acquaintances can sometimes yield touches of the benefits I’m missing out on. After spending a week in New York, one such friend informed me she had brought me back some chocolates. I would have accepted any gladly, but imagine my delight at receiving a small box by Michel Cluizel. It seems ages since I’ve had any Michel Cluizel; indeed, it has been a long time–it just isn’t a brand I can find in local stores. Yet it’s one of the top “find brands” I have had the chance to experience.
Chocolates may have been more risky to transport nearly coast-to-coast, but I’m glad of the opportunity they bring since I’ve only had Michel Cluizel bars in the past. The tiny, four-piece box the chocolates came in is beautiful. Its rich brown top receives accents from a bright yellow-orange bottom portion and a matching sunny bow. The bow looked so pretty and everything was so perfect that I hated to disturb it; I just wanted to hold the palm-sized box in the center of my hand and smile at it.
The sight inside was no less perfect to my eyes, so it was at this point that I started to get worried. When I review something under a name I esteem, I worry that I’ll too easily think too highly of it, yet I also want to be sure I’m not trying to hold it to too high a standard. I tried to keep my mind in the right focus as I approached these chocolates. My friend remembered to scribble down the names, and I believe I identified them all correctly:
Bouchons – Because of the pattern on the foil wrapping this one up, I thought of it as resembling a log until I found that the name’s translation is “cork” or “stopper.” Ah. Fitting, then, is the alcohol lurking in the dark chocolate’s creamy center. The alcohol flavor makes it rich, and it melts as smooth as cream while retaining a full-bodied substance.
Gaufrette – The translation here is “wafer,” as in the two wafer discs holding a light brown cream in place. An interesting shape. And hello, there, is that my friend hazelnut I detect? Since there are two discs of chocolate, you can taste their depth of flavor more here.
Palet au Miel – “Disc of honey” goes to the similar-looking piece with the honeycomb-patterned top. Honey being a gorgeous natural substance, honey chocolates can also be lovely. This one defies explanation–at this point I knew I wouldn’t be exaggerating by praising these chocolates. As you slowly let your teeth sink into the Palet au Miel, observe the cohabitation of density and smoothness. Focus on the gentle richness you find–it’s the true taste of honey, golden and sweet, encapsulated in folds of dark chocolates. It’s soft and poetic, but still commands attention because you want so much to listen. This chocolate alone was worth it.
Figaro – At least, I think that’s the name: scribbles are hard to read. In any case, there seem to be other chocolates out there with this name that have a similar striped appearance. The alternating white and light brown stripes here are dipped halfway in chocolate. I hesitate to say it in case I’m wrong, but I think the flavor is hazelnut again. But, oh, my goodness, whatever it is melts in the mouth more beautifully and literally than anything. It’s so light as it crumbles down to a paste and then sinks into a nutty aftertaste. The thread of chocolate doesn’t much get my attention because the lovely, sweet creaminess with its nutty aura keeps me so enthralled.
Maybe it’s just as well I don’t live in New York. A box of these a week would be luxury, and a box of twelve would be sin dangling just within my reach.