How Perfectly Bittersweet It Is

I have fallen in love with a new chocolate--perhaps the best I've ever tasted and because it will be in short supply I even hesitate to promote it!When I arrived at the ValRhona tasting, the tables were set with 2 small chocolate bars and a small plastic container holding 4 squares of unwrapped chocolate. Once the presentation started, and Vanessa Lemoine, Valrhona's Sensorial Analysis Manager and Pierre Costet, Chief Cacao Sourcer, indoctrinated us into the growing, producing, and tasting of chocolate, I started hungering for a taste (the very word chocolate always does this to me). And very quickly I went through all 4 pieces in the little container (usually I can restrain myself far better than this) and started eyeing my neighbor's sample. (Arlyn Blake, a darling friend eventually offered me 3 of them!) Somehow this chocolate, instead of satisfying chocolate craving, induced more. THE PORCELAINA BEAN We were taught about odor perceived through the nose versus aroma perceived through the mouth and about acidity perceived on the sides of the tongue versus bitterness perceived in the back of the tongue and throat. And when finally we were given the green light to taste the squares of chocolate and were asked whether we thought it was acidic or bitter my unhesitating answer was delicious. Vanessa agreed saying it was both acidic and bitter and indeed it was perfectly balanced, with creamy texture and just the right amount of sugar which was 64%.

CLOSE UP OF THE PORCELAINA BEAN This chocolate comes from the "criollo bean, poetically named Porcelaina and grown only in Venezuela in very small quantitites. The chocolate Valrhona has produced from it is called Palmira. It has been available in France since 1991 and is soon arriving in the U.S. Look for it on the Valrhona website or in specialty stores and try a bar. It will be more expensive than other Valrhona chocolates but see if you agree with me that it is an experience not to be missed. As Arlyn said when she ate the one piece she didn't hand over to me: "Now this is chocolate as it ought to be! MY SWEET FRIENDS: CHOCOLATIER JEAN FRANÇOIS BONNET OF TUMBADOR IN BKLYN AND HIS WIFE PASTRY CHEF DINA BONNET