Our First Stop in Brussels

...will be to the Pierre Marnolini Chocolatier for some real Belgian Chocolate.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a chocolate snob. No Hershey's for me.

Here's what the Marcolini website recommends when tasting good chocolate:

Look at the chocolate. It should be an evenly colored shade of deep mahogany or brown and should be free of cracks, air pockets, streaks and bloom. Sugar bloom, an ashy, rough coating of the face of the chocolate, is a sign not of poor quality but of chocolate that has been subjected to multiple changes in temperature.

Enjoy the aroma of the chocolate. The initial aroma should be a pleasant and complex fragrance. It should not an overwhelmingly strong scent but rather one of cocoa, vanilla, caramel and perhaps nuts. As the chocolate melts during the touch phase, take notes of any news fragrances that may be released.

Touch: Hold a piece of chocolate between your index finger and thumb. It should feel silky and smooth and should not be sticky. As chocolate is one of the only foods that melts at body temperature, it should begin to yield to the warmth of your fingers.

Break a piece of chocolate in half. It should make a clear snapping sound and should not splinter or crumble in you hand.

Taste & Texture:
Place a small piece of chocolate on your tongue and let it melt. As it begins to melt, you should experience a burst of the chocolate flavor. It should be initially smooth and buttery and then dissolve into a creamy liquid. It should not be gritty, gluey or waxy. As it continues to melt, the taste buds on your tongue will begin to register the sweetness, bitterness, saltiness, and sour qualities of the chocolate. A good chocolate will have a nice balance of the flavors without any one overpowering the others.

When conducting a proper chocolate tasting, be sure that the chocolates are at room temperature. Additionally, begin with the dark semisweet chocolates and end with the lighter milk chocolate pieces.

Sounds wonderful. I can't wait! But secretly, I'm most excited for the truffles. Yum.

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