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'Chocolate anchorwoman' Grace Li tastes chocolates from around the world

'Chocolate anchorwoman' Grace Li tastes chocolates from around the world

Translated by Ann Lee

Self-proclaimed "Kitty Anchor" Grace Li, currently the midday news anchorwoman for Era Channel, is a fan of food and drink from the world's different cultures. Through her blog, she shares her personal
views about gourmet food and chocolate. Many of the articles she posts in this blog have exceeded the 80,000-visit mark and are very popular with web surfers. This month, she shares some of her greatest chocolate experiences with Taiwan Fun readers.
Blog: UDN "Kitty's Gourmet Corner" http://blog.udn.com/yachien1210

Years ago, La Maison du Chocolat founder, French mistro Robert Linxe, once said, "Chocolates don't come when they are asked; they never go into the hands of those who doesn't understand chocolate." His words inspired me a great deal as a high schooler in the U.S. and deepened my curiosity for this sweet treat. Back then, each year when I would come back to Taiwan for summer vacation, I would stop in different places in Japan, like Tokyo's Theobroma in Shinjuku, Decadence du Chocolat in Daikanyama and Le Chocolat de H in Roppongi, just to interact with and study those chocolate connoisseurs, whose interpretations and excellence in the art of chocolate were so inspiring to Japanese women. In more recent years, many top European brand chocolatiers have arrived in Taiwan to make their sweet culture a big hit among Taipei consumers.

As busy as I am, chocolate and I still enjoy our times together. Famous chocolate connoisseurs Chloe Doutre-Roussel and Chantell Coady have come up with a list of hundreds of top-notch chocolates that can now be purchased in Taiwan--a list that I will share with our Taiwan Fun readers.


* Amedei Chocolates from Italy

Maker of gourmet Italian chocolates, Amedei came into existence in 1990. Their chocolates originate in Tuscany and are created with pure Criollo cocoa beans from Venezuela. This dreamy chocolate brand, with its complex textures and flavors, especially chocolates originating from Chuao, is one of my personal favorites.
Breeze Center: 39, FuXing S Rd, Sec 1; (02) 6600-8888, ext. 7324

* Amedei Chocolates from Italy * Amedei Chocolates from Italy

* Cacao et Chocolat from France

This young, trendy chocolate retail chain from Paris opened its first Taipei branch (and first in Asia) a while ago. Named Cacao et Chocolat Salon, the branch offers hot chocolates and handmade Maya Pattern Square Pralines, both signature products. The latter is a specialty chocolate filled with mesmerizing stuffing, with a rich texture that provides a lasting aftertaste.
Store location: 14, Lane 180, GuangFu S Rd; (02) 2775-1106
Xinyi Branch: 19, SongGao Rd, B2 (Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Dept. Store Xinyi A4 Building, B2F); (02) 2723-3023

* Cacao et Chocolat from France * Cacao et Chocolat from France

* Slitti Chocolates from Italy

Michel Chaudun and Andrea Slitti are both experts in sculpting exceptional chocolates. Andrea treats her chocolate-making process as a work of art, in a stunning display I have witnessed in several trips to visit her. The various rich spices she puts into her hot chocolate, together with a chocolate spoon that goes with the drink, truly offers a visual and sensual combination for those who get the chance to enjoy a taste.
35, Civic Blvd, Sec 4, 1F (next to Breeze Center); 02-2711-2709; www.fratello.com.tw

* Slitti Chocolates from Italy* Slitti Chocolates from Italy

*Valrhona Chocolates from France

Wines are differentiated by their place of origin, while chocolate couvertures from the "Pure Origin" grand cru range (see note) use cocoa beans. These ferment over time into multi-layered flavors that really give me a sensual experience as I taste them. Valrhona's Alpaco chocolate, consisting of 66% cocoa, is famed for its delicate, intimate floral aromas of jasmine and orange flowers. Valhrona Tainori is a 64% cocoa chocolate from the Dominican Republic. This bittersweet chocolate bar gradually release yellow fruit flavors, followed by citrus notes before ending with a prolonged nutty texture.
Taipei 101 branch: 45, ShiFu Rd, B1F, CB10; (02) 8101-7821
Xinyi Branch: 19, SongGao Rd, B2F (Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Dept. Store Xinyi A4 Building); (02) 2723-6528
Nanxi Branch: 12, NanJing W Rd, B2F (Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Dept. Store Nanxi [southwest] branch, B2F); (02) 2100-2677

Note: Valrhona created the world's first Gaunaja chocolate in 1986, and "Chocolates du Domaine" in 1999. "Chocolates du Domaine" correspond to a single harvest and come from a selected lot of a given plantation where the bean quality is exceptional. These carry the name of the domain and harvest vintage. These cocoa beans are only harvested once a year so, when packaged and ready to sell, they are usually marked with the production year. The temperature and climate of this year differentiates the flavors of these chocolates, which vary every year.

*Valrhona Chocolates from France *Valrhona Chocolates from France

Tips from the "Kitty Anchor" about chocolate tasting:
First, I try to smell chocolates, to see if their fruity aroma is pure and authentic. When the tip of the tongue touches the chocolate, how does the flavor present itself? Does it have a honey taste or a fruity, syrupy flavor? What is the aftertaste? When I take a deep breath and breathe out, how many layers of flavor does it become? Is the aftertaste long-lasting? How is the overall flavor and texture? What type of flavor is left in your mouth? These are chocolate-tasting questions you can ask yourself.

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