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The Well-Tempered Chocolatier shares how to truly taste chocolate and who are Vancouver's best chocolatiers.
While most people in Vancouver were watching the Canucks win Tuesday night, I spent an hour with the Well-Tempered Chocolatier (a.k.a. Eagranie Yuh) at Kafka’s Coffee and Tea learning about chocolate, how it’s made and, most importantly, how it tastes.
Much like wine tasting, there are many factors beyond taste that make good chocolate good.
Chocolate is grown in what coffee aficionados refer to as the bean belt—which works equally well for the cacao bean—the band around the equator between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
From there, the farmers on the plantation:
Then, the chocolate makers:
It’s a complicated, often global, process that, as Eagranie puts it, “has a lot of steps that you can mess up—or deliberately cut corners.”
Eagranie Yuh presented a spread of various high-quality chocolate bars and cacao nibs for tasting, “snapping” and smelling.
Throughout the evening, we tasted five different chocolates as well as some nibs. The nibs were surprisingly delicious, naturally sweet and nutty; not at all bitter as I expected them to be from my experience with high-percentage cacao chocolate.
As we tasted each of the chocolates, Eagranie told us about the history of the chocolate maker, whether they were Old World or New World (i.e., European or American—Eagranie described many American chocolates has having a bold “I’m-making-chocolate-bitches” taste) and the percentage of cacao.
It turns out that the most useful thing the percentage indicates is the amount of sugar (e.g., if a chocolate is 64 percent cacao, it is likely 36 percent sugar) because the packaging doesn’t indicate how much of the cacao is the butter and how much is the powder.
Eagranie is a former chemist, pastry chef and chocolatier. She runs these workshops once every couple of months (but if there’s more interest they’ll be more frequent). The best way to be in the know is to contact her and subscribe for her updates.
Eagranie Yuh is the Well-Tempered Chocolatier
According to Eagranie Yuh, the best chocolate makers in Vancouver are:
Probably the most recognised chocolatier in Vancouver and with good reason. Find Thomas Haas in Kitsilano (2539 W. Broadway, Vancouver. 604-736-1848) or on the North Shore (Unit 128, 998 Harbourside Dr., North Vancouver. 604-924-1847).
La Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle FranceAnne-Geneviève’s beautiful little shop on the corner of Main and 21st is a step back in time and a step forward in taste.
Cocolico (a.k.a. Wendy Boys)
Better known for her desserts at Lumière, and as the consulting chef at the Cactus Club, Wendy Boys has her own line of chocolates—Cocolico—available online, at Edible BC on Granville Island or at Whole Foods Supermarkets.
Not technically a chocolatier but a phenomenal chocolate retailer and a great source for all things chocolate, Xoxolat is located at Burrard St. and 8th Ave. and offers purists’-choice French chocolate from Valrhona as well as the complete organic chocolate package from Theo (U.S.A.).
Even with all this new choco knowledge, I still love a Cadbury Black Forest bar. What’s your guilty chocolate pleasure?