On a chilly Wednesday afternoon last week I joined fellow blogger friend Alex for a chocolate tasting she organized at Neuhaus, a chocolaterie inside of the Milli Joe Coffeehouse in the 400 Preston Building in downtown Charlottesville.
Is there a better way to warm up from the cold?
Our Cville shop is the sister store to the famous Frenchman’s Corner in Culpeper and is operated by Yonathan, the Frenchman’s son!
Yonathan’s family is an independent dealer of the famous Neuhaus chocolate from Belgium. The company, founded in 1857, is known for inventing the praline, the first filled chocolate, in 1912. Read more of the history of Neuhaus chocolate here!
Yonanthan took us on a chocolaty adventure through 5 special pieces. While you’ll probably read this post in less than 5 minutes, it took us a good hour to savor all 5 pieces. We discussed all kinds of flavors and textures along the way.
Our first chocolate ended up being my very favorite (isn’t the first bite always the best!?): the Classic Truffle.
Check him out in the front here:
The Classic is filled with chocolate buttercream, rolled in dark chocolate and dusted with a raw cocoa powder. It was bitter and drying on the outside (from the cocoa) and perfectly sweet on the inside – but not too sweet. A true palate experience.
We sipped a classic black tea from Milli Joe’s line to cleanse our palates – this one had notes of tobacco.
Chocolate 2 was the almond-shaped chocolate in the front here – the Art Nouveau. I loved how hard the outer shell was compared to the luxurious ganache inside. Unlike ganaches that I have had for dessert, this one was slightly sticky and almost caramely in taste, which might have been the notes of grilled hazelnut in the ganache. It poured out of the chocolate upon first bite. I loved chomping down on the last bit!
We tried the Suzanne next. This chocolate featured a whole fresh raspberry infused into dark chocolate ganache that was encased in dark chocolate and topped with dried raspberry. Neuhaus believes in using the finest quality ingredients, and in this case the highlight was simply raspberry. It reminded me of the super flavorful raspberries I get mid-summer at the farmer’s market – it was hard to believe there was no artificial flavor involved.
Fourth we tried the Grand Place, named for the original store in Brussels where Neuhaus was founded. It was perhaps the most interesting chocolate on the tray – a rich dark chocolate ganache infused with a savory spice called nigella and then dusted with crystalized Belgian beet sugar. The flavor reminded me of soy sauce and black pepper! I declared this a pre-meal chocolate rather than a dessert : )
Our final delight was the Violetta, ganache flavored with violets and decorated with pieces of crystallized violets from Toulouse. The flavor of this chocolate was best described as “the color purple.” I’m not sure I had ever had violet before, but it reminded me of grape-flavored candy. Yet of course it was pure as can be.
I ended the tasting with a new respect for chocolate (and chocolate makers!) and also a desire to eat more slowly. As a mom chasing a toddler around, sitting down to savor food is not something I do much of anymore, so this was such a treat.
I bought a few extras to bring home to Matt and enjoy the rest of the week:
A Tiramisu truffle, a Marc de Champagne truffle (Champagne Marc butter cream dusted in powdered sugar), the Desdemone (vanilla cream) and a Grand Place for Matt to try.
I couldn’t leave Milli Joe without saying hi to my favorite cheesemonger!
Nadjeeb was busy at Flora with his newest arrival – check out this log of cheese!
He gave me a taste and then I left with some more of my favorite Caveman blue!
Happy Food Eating to you!