I have talked about Sepp Zotter and his chocolate a couple of times before. His artistically packaged chocolate bars and wide range of bold flavour combinations make him a unique name in the world of fine chocolate.
Although my first taste did not really win me over, I remained curious about the creative streak of this Austrian chocolatier. The fact is, Zotter manages to make you approach chocolate with a collectors mind. Whenever I see his chocolates on sale a part of me turns back to the eight year old who loved to trade football(soccer) cards: I wonder if there are people out there who actually trade Zotter's wraps. It wouldn't surprise me. For those, like me, who are more interested in the actual taste, the almost sixty flavours give plenty of reasons to go back for another pick over and over. And even if you have tried them all you can be sure some new creation will enrich the collection of the coming year.
In the past year and a half, the number of shops selling these chocolate bars around Jena has increased dramatically and so it has become easier to find a wider range of Zotter's collection. About a week ago, I somehow ended up with two chocolate bars I had not really intended to buy while shopping for a wine bottle to go with our dinner. A third one joined the others just the next day, equally mysteriously. I am starting to believe there must be some chocolate pixies around here.
I am a strong believer in second chances, but sometimes a third go (with three tries) is even better. Doesn't luck come in threes after all? If I had stopped at two, I would have never tasted the chocolate which is definitely my favourite among Zotter's and also one of the best flavoured bars I ever put between my teeth: dark chocolate with a filling of celeriac white chocolate, port ganache and truffle oil. The bar is dedicated to Zotter's master, Werner Matt, and I imagine extra care went into this creation. The result certainly suggests so: the celeriac aroma is just an undertone giving the white chocolate a more complex dimension and the luscious Port ganache offers the fruity freshness needed to round the taste perfectly. My only minor grudge is that the truffle, so strongly publicised on the package front, is not noticeable at all. After all its absence did not decreased the quality of this chocolate bar in any way.
Since I got the chance the chance, I also gave a go to the combo that intrigued me most since my discovering Zotter, i.e. the bar flavoured with coffee steeped prunes and caramelised bacon. It sounds like a bold match yet everyone knows bacon and prunes work great together. Would they work in chocolate too? For me, the combination is fine, but just that. The prune taste is clean and pleasant and the almost insubstantial salty note of the bacon is a welcome distraction from the earthy taste of this bar. Unfortunately the bacon adds more fat to an already rich mouth-feel and lacks something that works as contrast. The combination is still interesting and I am sure others would love it. It is just not my cup of tea.
After such richness, the straight Simply chocolate bar was a welcome change. The description on Zotter's website tells it all: "roasted cocoa pieces rolled in noble dark chocolate, jump onto a layer of dark chocolate nougat. Wrapped in noble dark chocolate." The "noble dark chocolate" for some reason brings pictures of a cocoa bean riding fully armoured on a stallion and Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" as soundtrack. Knights of the round table aside, this is a very nice bar as a whole, good dark chocolate taste from fine ingredients, as you would expect, though it does not reach the heights of the best Valrhona's Crus or Domori's Porcelana (my all time dark chocolate favourite, unfortunately discontinued). Still a good choice for the lovers of pure chocolate taste like me.
Now I've just another 52 sorts to go through, so stay tuned....