Sweet Surprises on the Road
When I had asked the ladies in Paris’ Pralus shop about their signature pink praline brioche – why pink? – they simply said that blue or green wouldn’t have been the most appetizing. They do make a fine point. That said, blue M&M’s seem totally normal to me. As do purple frosting and bright green lollipops. But I was still quite surprised to see a blue chocolate bar the other day, on the road somewhere between Zürich and Lyon.
After filling up the tank at a rest stop, and while my husband usually gets a coffee from the French coin machine, I always take a little stroll around the food mart. This may seem very unexciting from a culinary perspective. Furthermore, once you’ve seen one rest stop, you’ve seen them all. I disagree! I hurry past the bins full of sandwiches with sponge-like bread and mysterious looking cold cuts, and ignore the bags of chips and other fast food. If you look around, there’s always gourmet finds to be had. In any country for that matter – that’s the fun of it. I recall on a road trip across Brazil, I got this fabulous jar of dulce de leche, with 3 layers of fruit puree mixed in. At a rest stop! And when we needed to break for gas and a pick-me-up on the road in Morocco, I found a bag of freshly mixed nuts and dried legumes that topped any I found elsewhere.
On our way to Lyon, my fun find was a long piece of chewy nougat made with dried figs. Delicious! And on our way back to Zürich, it was a bar of blue chocolate! Blue, so of course it caught my eye. But this was no candy company selling to children. It was a bar from Bovetti, a well established chocolate company in France that was at Paris’ Salon du Chocolat a few weeks ago. I had seen their wall of bars, a rather impressive variety of flavors I must say. (On their website, they proudly claim to have over 100 different bars.) Thick rectangles of dark, milk and white chocolate, topped with bananas, coconut or other fruit, a whole range of herbs and spices, nuts, even flowers and assorted confections.
So why blue? The bar I bought was 73% dark chocolate, really just sprinkled with sugar. The pot of sugar happened to have 2 extra ingredients: mint flavoring and blue food coloring. The mint was very subtle and did add a nice aroma to the bar. What I liked most was that the chocolate stayed the same. It remained the glossy, rich chocolate it was before. You didn’t lose anything in the quality by adding flavors or extra sugar to the chocolate itself. It was simply a coating underneath the smooth, creamy chocolate layer.
Next time you’re on the road, and you’ve pulled into a rest stop, take a stroll around; see what tempting treats await. Unless you’ve already done so… in which case, what did you find?