My journey to discover chocolate begun some 20 years ago, in the kitchen of a dear friend

His father had just come back from a business trip. I had shared with him my feelings for chocolate earlier and he invited me to have a taste of a pastry that he brought from Paris. He asked me to taste it, slowly, allowing my mouth to really capture its full flavors. It was like a jolt. I felt the full intensity of those flavors, a real symphony of feelings. Indeed, a real symphony, every good chocolate is a full composition of flavors, a composition of unique keys. I think of that moment like when I first listen to Miles Davis’ “A Kind of Blue”, a breakthrough full of grace and a silky intricacy. The pastry was the iconic creation of an internationally renowned Parisian pastry master chef. A pastry chef that, through the years, has been emulated repeatedly all over the world. The following year, I personally went to visit his store in Paris to again experience that same emotion. From then on, that trip became a ritual to feel again and again that magic emotion.

That was the beginning, a first step, followed by many others all aimed at my personal discovery of cocoa.

Rather than driven by the many pastry creations available, my journey found its path through the tasting of dark chocolate bars.

A fortunate choice, bolstered by the recent prominence gained by the noble origin of its key ingredient, and fostered by the chocolate production spreading to new territories from those traditionally devoted to raising the cocoa plant. On the contrary, I have never devoted myself to flavored chocolate bars, except for one case that i will discuss later, chocolates, milk or white chocolate bars; I did not explore pastry or pastry creations made with chocolate, even though I like them. They won’t be part of this journey.

My journey has always been free, purely driven by curiosity. I am not part of the cocoa production or distribution world, I don’t sell it and I am not advised by any commercial source. My journey is the pure harvest of my emotions when tasting products often made by small manufactures across the world. “Bean-to-bar” manufactures that do not sell to big market chains and that cannot be commonly found even in those specialty stores that I visit. There are many of them, it would be impossible to try them all, but, once again, my journey is free from doctrines and it does not want to be all-comprehensive.

I consider myself fortunate for sharing my journey with a dear friend. We share the unique ritual of our home tasting sessions, we discuss the flavors of the bars that we purchase. We both select bars through online sources, sometimes from our trips, and we carefully taste small amounts, attentive to their flavors. It’s a work of feelings not a stomach feast; it requires intentness. He is my key point of reference for all news and an unparalleled source of ideas for growing my experience. I would have loved to be professionally trained, or having undertaken an official path to enhance my tasting knowledge; as of now, I can only follow my personal experience based on my ongoing exchange.

For the last years I also furthered my knowledge by attending the Chocolate International Exposition of Paris, which I am eagerly awaiting to visit again as the circumstances will allow it. This event adds precious suggestions to my usual sources of information.Based on my experience over these years, I candidly affirm that the criteria that i follow are few, personal and fully, peculiarly personal.