Chocolate Roundup #8: Switzerland, Italy, USA

It’s time for another chocolate roundup !  Way too much chocolate tasted in the past few months (weeks even) not to share a few highlights…

Reichmuth Von Reding SchokoladeKöniglich Kaiserliche Schokolade

No place to start other than here in Switzerland.  And with the very best.

Reichmuth von Reding is the ultimate in dark chocolate, and many would agree there’s simply nothing better.  I love how his initials RvR are emblazoned on each thick, shiny square of chocolate because I consider this the absolute Rolls Royce of dark chocolate.  I’d say it’s as elegant as I’ve ever seen chocolate to be – the sturdy, solid colored boxes (each color hinting at the corresponding flavor), and the bars themselves with 15 squares that always break cleanly with a loud snap.

Each box has a plethora of information on it, including the cocoa content and the origin of the cocoa beans, and even on some bars, the hours of conching (up to 72 !). What it doesn’t say is that they use chocolate from my all-time favorite, Felchlin in Schwyz, *the* chocolate of choice of professionals in Switzerland.  There are a few bars made with cocoa beans from Madagascar or Ecuador, and even wild beans from Bolivia, but most use the top of the line Criollo bean from Venezuela.  Variations on the latter have hazelnuts, ginger, coffee (love this one) or almonds, as below.  In the almond bar, there is one whole California almond in each square, a fresh, perfectly caramelized nut that gives you sweet, crunchy, creamy, rich and dark all in one bite.

Reichmuth Von Reding SchokoladeReichmuth Von Reding SchokoladeReichmuth Von Reding SchokoladeReichmuth Von Reding SchokoladeReichmuth Von Reding SchokoladeReichmuth Von Reding Schokolade

Another favorite chocolate of mine is also dark (naturally) and also Swiss.  And no surprise here then, also using Felchlin chocolate.  Not very well known, Nobile Cioccolato from Bätterkinden (near Bern) certainly should be.  Especially the bar, Nusskrokant Maldon Salz.  Little pieces of crunchy nougatine made with California almonds, Sicilian pistachios and Piedmont hazelnuts are in a thin bar of excellent, smooth 71% dark chocolate (whose cocoa beans are from Ecuador and Madagascar) with a touch of Maldon sea salt from the UK.  Need I say more ?!

When Lee of Chocolate Reviews asked the very fun but difficult question of naming your favorite chocolate bar, Nobile was my answer.  And I mentioned this bar in particular, not Nobile’s milk chocolate bar you may recall from a previous chocolate roundup, with kiwi, pine nuts and curry ! You can find their bars in a few select shops throughout Switzerland, and apparently in Harrods in London.  Anyone across the Channel want to check that out ?  You will be rewarded if so… with this bar below !

Nobile CioccolatoNobile CioccolatoNobile CioccolatoNobile Cioccolato

In a stark contrast to the two chocolates above that are the epitome of smooth, Sicilian CioMod is doing something at the opposite extreme.  When you open a bar of their Neropuro chocolate, you may be quite shocked and probably not too tempted to try it.  It looks downright unattractive and perhaps bloomed or old.  It may be lacking that glossy shine we look for, but there’s nothing wrong with it, au contraire !  It’s simply chocolate in an ultimately pure form – nothing more than two ingredients: cocoa mass and natural cane sugar.  Lacking the elegance of Reichmuth von Reding, the four pieces of this bar are thick and rustic, with a very sandy texture that leaves crumbs like a sablé (shortbread).

The reason for its gritty appearance and mouthfeel is the lack of cocoa butter and conching (the process whereby frictional heat gives chocolate a stable, smooth and liquid form).  Using an old Sicilian tradition of chocolate making and “antique, artisanal methods,” the chocolate is cold pressed, leaving you with a rather intense hit of cocoa, whereby one small piece may be enough.  It makes for a very different taste experience, that will have you appreciating chocolate as a pure product – and also appreciating the invention of the conch (thank you Rodolphe Lindt).

CioMod Cioccolato Nero PuroCioMod Cioccolato Nero PuroCioMod Cioccolato Nero PuroCioMod Cioccolato Nero Puro

When a friend told me she was traveling through Mississippi and had some southern chocolate to send me, you can imagine how curious I was to try it.  A couple of bars from Tennessee made their way to Zürich and I loved Olive & Sinclair‘s packaging and the look of their logo on each square of the bar itself.   Reading about the company, I was reminded of fellow American bean-to-bar chocolate maker, Askinosie, as well as Taza, the first “stone ground” chocolate I had come across.  (You can watch a short video of the native Nashvillians making their “hand crafted, small batch, slow-roasted and stone ground” chocolate.)

The bar I tasted was Salt & Pepper, the latter in that duo raising a red flag for the supertaster I am (I’m not boasting, it’s an actual label).  One small bite and…“water !” So I called on my #1 taster here to give me his objective opinion.  Even for someone who seasons his food like confetti, it was still too strong for him.  The taste of pepper was overwhelming and lingered for way too long.  That said, if you like heat (a lot of it) and a serious kick of it with your chocolate, then this is for you.  Me ?  I’ve got my eye on their Sea Salt and Coffee bars; anyone ever try those ?  The new white chocolate bar with buttermilk sounds interesting too – and oh so Southern.

Olive & Sinclair ChocolateOlive & Sinclair ChocolateOlive & Sinclair ChocolateOlive & Sinclair Chocolate

If you think pepper in your chocolate is strange, what about… carrots ?!  Genusswerkstatt (gourmet workshop) co-founders K+K, chocolatier Markus Kunz and master distiller Ruedi Käser call themselves creative food artisans.  They created a platform for high quality, sustainable products from NE Switzerland, especially the Frick valley.  Once I learned that Frick is in the canton of Aargau, it came as no surprise that they have a dark chocolate bar called Rüebli-Schoggi, local dialect for carrot chocolate.  Aargau happens to be the carrot capital of Switzerland and even holds a market festival dedicated to the root vegetable in the fall.  (I hope to be at this year’s Rüeblimärt on November 2nd.)

But carrot in chocolate ?  I bought this hand-numbered bar at the Viadukt market when it caught my eye – carrot liqueur 50% alcohol and carrot jam in the ingredients list ?!  I have to say, it’s not as weird as it may sound.  Sure it’s still weird, but oddly enough, the bright orange, caramel-like filling in a thin, rich dark chocolate shell was quite nice.  It’s not all vegetables though, this line of Königlich Kaiserlicher chocolate has other fillings flavored with pear Williams, wild cherry, grappa, quince, wild raspberry or whiskey.  I like my chocolate sans alcohol, but always fun to try different things.

Rüebli (carrot) chocolateRüebli (carrot) chocolateRüebli (carrot) chocolateRüebli (carrot) chocolate

What chocolate have you tasted lately ?

~

Good thing chocolate never goes out of style.  Here are the previous chocolate roundups,… and stay tuned for #9 !

Chocolate Roundup #1: Croatia, USA, Austria, Switzerland
Chocolate Roundup #2: Switzerland, Spain, Italy
Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland
Chocolate Roundup #4: Caramel & Salt
Chocolate Roundup #5: France, Belgium, Switzerland, USA
Chocolate Roundup #6: Please Pass the Salt
Chocolate Roundup #7: France, USA, New Zealand

17 Responses to “Chocolate Roundup #8: Switzerland, Italy, USA”

  1. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    I do love your chocolate round ups. I am constantly surprised at how much chocolate is out there.

    I always learn a thing or two from your posts, too. Like conching? What was that? Now I know! And I didn’t know that Felchlin is the choice of chocolate for professionals. I love all the packaging of the Olive & Sinclair chocolate.

    But best of all, I think I like the full, big fillings of the Reichmuth von Reding chocolate. What a delicious mouthful each piece of that would be.

    Thank you again for this wonderful roundup!

  2. Victoria (District Chocoholic) says:

    I had a very similar experience with the Olive & Sinclair salt and pepper. The flavors just didn’t blend well or uniformly. They have a cinnamon-chili bar that is far better, and for a nice salt-pepper chocolate, I enjoy Taza.

  3. Emma says:

    I recently tried Olive & Sinclair for the first time, but I chose the Sea Salt bar. I thought it was fantastic; nothing was overpowering to me. I made sure not to get the Salt and Pepper bar as my first of theirs for taste-testing, per Victoria’s recommendation.

    From this roundup, I’m equally interested in CioMod and the carrot chocolate – both sound crazy and unique and delicious. Right up my alley!

    And I have most recently enjoyed an Askinosie bar… but up next? Maybe Fortunato No. 4?

  4. Kerrin says:

    Julia, so glad to hear you love these roundups ! I bet there are some excellent chocolate companies doing very delicious things in Brisbane… voilà your sweet mission to find them ! 🙂

    Victoria, glad to hear a fellow chocolate lover and connoisseur had a similar reaction to the s&p bar. Personally, I’m still wary of the chili in the one you recommend. I’m uber-sensitive to spices. But if you give the thumbs up to Olive & Sinclair, then I’ll for sure try to get my hands on other bars of theirs. Thanks !

    Emma, and you too – thumbs up for Olive & Sinclair ! How did I guess that you’d like the carrot chocolate, haha ! And aha, Moonstruck’s Fortunato is next on your tasting agenda – you’ll have to let me know what you think…

  5. Jenn says:

    Oh these all look so wonderful Kerrin!! Ha I’ve learned more about amazing Swiss chocolate to try by your posts than I think I have actually found on my own living en Suisse – yum! And that Silician one looks so intriguing, would love to taste unconched (is that a word?) chocolate 🙂

  6. valentina says:

    This is one of those posts that I have to read at least twice. First time with a notepad to write things down. you educate me on the chocolate front. I feel humbled by all the knowledge you have. There will be a future post with proper feedback. Amazing post. So many new things to me.

  7. Ilana says:

    Anywhere in NYC that I can get RvR??? Looks heavenly! PS – next chocolate roundup, I expect you to include those special eggs I told you about 😉

  8. Christian Langenegger says:

    Absolutely beautiful shots!

  9. Kerrin says:

    Jenn, thanks ! 🙂 We’ll have to compare notes on chocolate we see in your French speaking side and my German speaking side. The unconched (yup, a word !) Sicilian chocolate is really interesting, not what I grab when I want chocolate, but something to taste for sure.

    valentina, thrilled I could share some chocolatey knowledge – my favorite subject ! Looking forward to your thoughts, part two 🙂 Obrigada minha amiga.

    Ilana, hmmm, excellent question. I don’t think RvR is available in New York City, let alone many places outside of Zürich. I’ll have to find out about that. You can always order from their website (http://www.rvrtee.ch/shop/chocolat__gebaeck). Or if you know anyone here in Zürich, they could probably hook you up [wink wink]. 😉
    Meanwhile, the only place in NYC I could see carrying it would be…
    https://mykugelhopf.ch/2008/10/surprising-nyc-destination-for-chocolate/
    As for the *eggs* – haha !!

    Christian, danke vielmal !

  10. Sam Sidney says:

    You are missing one kind of chocolate in this roundup…

    https://sweeteethchocolate.com/

    Maybe you need to take a southern detour and check out this stuff… Of course, I have yet to try it but it does look delicious and I see it all around town. Next time, I will pick it up and mail some our way!

    xo.

  11. Silvia says:

    I had a similar aha experience (Aha Erlebnis) when I discovered that the Reichmuth von Reding chocolate is actually Felchlin…
    I have to try that Nobile bar.

  12. Kerrin says:

    Sam, ooooh I need to include the USA in another roundup for sure – more southern chocolate ! 🙂 But silly girl, how come you have not tried Sweeteeth yet ?! Ok, there’s your mission… “Sea is for Caramel” – love that bar name !
    http://sweeteethchocolate.com/shop

    Silvia, thanks for the comment – excited to discover your site and all those chocolate reviews of yours !
    http://truffesdujour.wordpress.com/chocolates/
    Yes, definitely try Nobile and I’ll try Mitzi Blue.. and we can compare notes ! 😉

  13. Lani says:

    So many wonderful chocolates to taste thru the computer! I do love the impressive package of R&R…definitely looks like Rolls Royce and I probably would love it too. I never knew about conching chocolate. It doesn’t look that exciting to taste but I would certainly love to try. You know what chocolate I had the other day….M&Ms…..what do you think?

  14. Bolinhos de chocolate com framboesas « Trem Bom says:

    […] meu paladar tem vivenciado novos sabores, novas sensaç?es. Agora mesmo ainda estou zonza com o último post dela que é sobre chocolate da Itália, USA e Suíça aonde vive. A caderneta está cheia de notas […]

  15. Valentina says:

    As part of my attempt to try new chocolate bars, after reading your post I bought two bars of Montezuma chocolate. One of them is a new flavour called Bean Machine. It’s White and dark chocolate with coffee. I was expecting the coffee flavour to be mixed with the chocolate, but instead you actually bite into tiny powerful coffee particles. A big surprise and a rather nice one. By the way, something left a comment in my blog saying that in Sao Paulo where she lives , she took part on a chocolate course and your blog got mentioned by the tutor. Have a great weekend.

  16. Nicole Urdang says:

    Hi Kerrin,
    Fabulous write-up, as always!

  17. Kerrin says:

    Lani, oooh M&M’s – that can’t compete with all this chocolate here, not even the Rolls Royce ! M&M’s are in their own category – and oh do I love them ! 🙂

    Valentina, I actually have a bar here of Montezuma’s very dark 73% chocolate that I haven’t tried yet. Now you have me curious ! That Bean Machine sounds so good (minus the white) – I love chocolate with coffee, as long as it’s not too strong or bitter. I just read your fabulous and gorgeous post (http://trembom.com/2011/06/07/bolinhos-de-chocolate-com-framboesas/) and I can’t believe about the chocolate class in São Paulo – LOVE hearing that and what a fun coincidence !! 🙂

    Nicole, thanks so much ! So much interesting stuff on Chocolate Ratings lately too.

Leave a Reply

* Required (email address will not be published)