1st Things 1st - The last time I reviewed the then NEW Prince's Building outlet, this IFC shop was not opened yet and I was told that the IFC 'outlet' most probably wouldn't sell the Ice Creams. This actually turned out to be a wrong rumour as here it did sell it for a short period..... Although these days it stopped again as apparently they don't have the spare manufacturing capacity to import them into Hong Kong anymore. A SHAME!
Anyway perhaps I briefly wrote on the topic before. I am unfortunately not into La Maison's chocolates (nor Macarons), particularly their ganached filled ones or pralines or truffles. DISCLAIMER- its probably PURELY PERSONAL, as some adore the brand and this even includes certain high profile Chocolate lovers and authors
- whereas my family and friends puts them in a corner of a room and no one wants to touch them again? I find their Dark Chocolate flavour profiling too geared towards the 'just graduated from Cadbury/Hersey' crowd -being too cloyingly sugary and buttery in texture, both in the process destroying any underlying multi-dimensional flavours desired. If I'd wanted that type of easier eating Chocolate, which I also like a lot, I'd prefer buying it from GODIVA or say WITTAMER or DEBAUVE & GALLAIS etc, which are smoother and less sweeter. Even the L.M.C. Dark Chocolate Pieces such as Caracas, Rigoletto, Quito, etc, just don't really click with me and I'm not sure I want to spend $450-600 to try their suggested Tamanaco or Arriba boxed options either. In a way, my personal preference has restricted me to still being highly unfamiliar with L.M.C.'s chocolate options, as I even had to look up the net to remember how to spell the above chocolates!! Their product names are totally unrecognisable to me.
When it comes to serious Dark Chocolatey-Chocolates rather than my other, also loved Milky-Chocolates - I am too much of a Die-Hard Purist fan of Valrhona and Jean Paul Hevin
, both of which have their own pro's and con's in each products and locally I also love VERO. However, probably unknown to many people who subscribes to the "LET'S GO BUY THE BRAND NAME, PRESTIGE AND HIGHER PRICES OBVIOUSLY MEANS BETTER"
theory: in reality and this is usually unknown to the general public since its not advertised anywhere, La Maison du Chocolat also source their original collaborated chocolates and couvertures from Valrhona as well and so does Jean Paul Hevin and many other famous French Chocolatiers, although JPH doesn't hide that fact at all.
I brought up this point because I wanted to show you that preferences by chefs/chocolatiers/patissiers with an 'Engineered, Designed Taste Profile' as well as the ultra important 'Worksmanship and Skills by the Chocolatier', both actually influece the Final Resultant Chocolate products. Its exactly the same with Coffees or perhaps Soybeans or even say Chickens- sourcing the same Top Ingredients, even from the same supplier, is not an automatical guarantee of receiving the Same End Tofu/Chocolate/Coffee or Chicken dish.
PARIGUAN CHOCOLATE BAR - NOIR 69% CACAO :
My only viable option and slightly more affordable choice at La Maison du Chocolat is their pure Chocolate Tablets. Works out to around $110/bar, which is very expensive and bordering on Amedei territory, albeit bigger in volume.
Its made of the highest quality Cocoa Beans from Venezuela and 'vintaged', designed to directly rival those of Amedei's Porcelana (very expensive) and Chuao (no.1 or 2 Chocolate in the world, depending on your School of Thought and whether you're Spanish) and also Valrhona's own interpretation, the very sold-out vintaged Palmira.
So how does my Pariguan perform? Its actually really good indeed and making me regain my respect with the La Maison brand. It is smooth for a Noir, with hints of dark berries and raisins, with small hints of bitterness at the end but a long finish in the end palate. Its not as Venezualuan as I'd envisaged as the Amedei and VERO options are slightly livelier, fresher, more floral and red fruits driven.
Recently I actually enjoy this more than the Amedei Chuao bars of late, the latter seems to have gone slightly backwards in recent vintages, its becoming less complex than before and also starting to carry a very bitter end note, which doesn't make up for its rough 'brittleness' in texture that I was previously willing to sacrifice for the flavour hits. VERO now churns out the better Chuao option in my opinion but u know what? I still most enjoy the original Valrhona's and Michel Cluizel bars on an average day. They just perform better on the whole somehow, equally 'alive' but very approachable and well balanced. I don't need more bitterness in my life.
This La Maison du Chocolate Pariguan bar is very close nonetheless. I would put it into my Top 5 easily for now!
PARIGUAN TABLET SCORE: mid "5"
69% Cacao Content. Terroir: "Venezuelan"
Spending per head: Approximately HKD110Other Ratings:
Value for Money 3