I was thrilled to be invited by Discover Paris! to a chocolate truffle tasting this past weekend. The people behind Discover Paris are Tom Reeves & Monique Wells, recent publishers of the book, Paris Insights - An Anthology.
They wanted to research different truffle makers for their upcoming February newsletter, just in time for Valentine's Day. I was more than happy to participate in such a difficult assignment!
Here's how it worked:
1) Discover Paris! collected "truffe nature" samples from five different chocolate shops in Paris. These are natural truffles, without any added flavorings such as alcohol, nuts, etc.
2) They assembled a few people around their table, including Pastry Chef Alison Johnson (of 1 Michelin star restaurant Jean), Michel Cloes (President of Chef Culinary Network), and myself.
3) The truffles arrived at the table, one at a time, identified only as Truffle A or Truffle B, C, etc. We privately commented on each truffle and rated it on appearance, touch, smell, taste, and mouth feel. We then compared notes & talked about our impressions. Finally, the scores were tallied up and a winner was announced.
Here are the truffles we tasted:
Unfortunately, I can't disclose the conclusions yet, because in all fairness, it is Discover Paris! who deserves those honors! However, I can share a few thoughts:
- Side-be-side comparisons have a way of highlighting a flaw that might otherwise be less noticeable. It is perhaps for this reason that a well known chocolatier disappointed me so much. Either that, or they've changed their recipe (admittedly it's been 2 years ago since I last bought from them...).
- No matter how many different people you have tasting something, everyone is going to have their own opinion!! That's the nature of something like cooking or pastry or chocolate making....these are highly subjective professions!
- Despite these differences, a trend could be found.
- There was a surprise entry in this tasting....it turned out to be quite the highlight of the event for me!
Thanks again, Discover Paris!, for hosting such an insightful & delicious event!