As I slowly plough my way through the spoils of last year’s road trip across Europe, I’m remembering the stops we made, the people we met, and finally I’m tasting some of the chocolate as well.
While wandering around Venice on a day off, about to head off in search of a hotel somewhere away from overpriced tourist hell, we passed a chocolatier – or should that be cioccolateria, since we were in Italy? Opening the door and escaping from the heat of an early summer afternoon, the cool rush of air conditioning was almost as welcome as the blast of rich cocoa flavours from both stock and new chocolates being made on the premises. The VizioVirtù ’boutique’ is a classy establishment in a rather lovely part of Venice. The web site has directions to the shop (an essential if you’ve ever wandered around Venice) and a brief overview of some of the products made on the premises.
As one might expect from an Italian choco-boutique located in Venice, the produce was rather pricey, and given the heat of the day and potential transportation and storage problems, I resolved to choose just one bar from the myriad on offer. This one caught my eye for two reasons. One, it’s made using organic ingredients (the cocoa, cane sugar and cocoa butter are all ‘biologico’) and two, it contains violet flavoured sugar crystals.
As a young lad suffering the hardships of living in a sweetshop in the 1970s, I ate mor than my share of parma violets (among many things) and while previous attempts at nostalgic sweetie-tasting have been less than satisfying (too much sugary, perfumey sweetness for me these days) I did think that a sprinkling of violet flavour tempered with a good hefty dose of Dominican Republic cocoa might be worth investigating.
In the style of many handmade bars, the ‘extra’ stuff is studded into the back of the bar, as you can see. (Or is it the front? I tend to think of the top or front surface as being the one with the squares, but this packaging seems to contradict that. Answers on a postcard.)
This chocolate is a light, soft flavoured confection with fresh, creamy properties not unlike a full bodied milk chocolate. There’s a very subtle underlying bitterness and acidity to the finish, but in the main this is a surprisingly soft and delicately flavoured bar. The sugar crystals do pack a sizeable amount of violet flavour, but they don’t hang around for too long, blending well with the darker flavours of the chocolate and enhancing rather than overpowering the taste experience.
I was expecting a more hefty cocoa taste from a 74% bar, but this proves that good quality chocolate doesn’t need to overpower the palate in order to deliver. Soft in the mouth, well rounded, and with a clean, mildly acidic finish, I liked this a lot. Shame Venice is a bit of a hike from Berkshire really. Still, if you ever find yourself in Venice, do pop in. It’s a welcome relief from carnival masks and coloured glass ornaments!