Posted by: thehungryrunner | January 9, 2008

Another Review of UNBELIEVABLE Chocolate: John and Kira’s Chocolates, Part 1

As with the hot cocoa (“Chocolat Chaud”) I had recently reviewed, this too was a gift from a couple of kind-hearted souls to me.  To say these chocolates put me into orbit is not even close to describing what an ecstacy-inducing treat this was for me.

Admittedly, while I sometimes enjoy exploring unusual foods and flavors, I can also fall into an impenetrable pattern of choosing the same, safe, good ol’ stand-bys for myself.  Maybe it’s partly because I watch my calories fairly closely, which suddenly puts my culinary real estate at a premium.  God forbid I go out on a limb and either feel “meh” about a particular food item — or worse, decide, after giving it a fair shot, that I truly don’t care for it.  I get cranky that I “wasted” those calories on something so unfulfilling; I feel like demanding a do-over!  Yeah, that’s the little 2-year-old spoiled brat in me coming out, but I’m sure it’s a major reason I have my general list of reliable favorites, and tend by and large not to steer too far off course from them.

But I also know how good it is for me — not to mention deeply rewarding at times — to walk on the wild side and Give Different A Chance every now and then.  This was one of those times that not only reaffirmed this notion, it made me want to climb a mountain and joyfully scream, “Vive La Difference!”

What epicurean delicacy could move such a mountain, you ask?  Why, that would be the divine divinities of John & Kira’s chocolates.  A category in of themselves and the new standard from which I will measure my future chocolate experiences (my condolences to all other chocolatiers).

First, I should describe the care package my gift was delivered in:  two wooden boxes, each with a metal latch, reminiscent of a jewelry box.  And considering the “jewels” that were tucked inside, I dare say this was a befitting container, indeed.  In one box, the smaller of the two, were these exquisite chocolate-covered dried figs (I’m a nut for figs and other dried fruit), which I would later discover are also filled with a creamy, Whisky-flavored chocolate ganache.  Are you getting a sense of the sublime adventure ahead?  The fragrance alone was enough to make the head spin.

But of course, man (at least, this woman) cannot live on fragrance alone.  Jewels are made to be eaten (or something like that).  Following a sensible dinner and a cup of tea to cleanse the taste buds, I surveyed the nestlings and dantily picked one up, displacing the fluted brown paper cup that cushioned it’s seat.  A perfectly round, smooth “bon bon with a stem,” almost as if this were a species of fruit, having been plucked from the Tree of the Gods itself.  I gingerly took a bite, closed my eyes, and inhaled lightly as I began to chew, my tongue zinging to full life as it began its attempt at diciphering and savoring.  Oh my.

The figs had just the right balance of chewy and tender, with the harder outer chocolate coating and the melt-in-your-mouth filling mirroring the textural contrast between the fig’s tougher skin and the moist, sweet fruit inside.  But happily, while the taste was enough to induce the kind of zeal that could easily inspire an urge to devour the rest faster than you can read the ingredients on a package of Fig Newtons, the required chewing of the dried fig (it turns out there’s no such thing as “popping” figs, one after another, in the same way you would, say, M&M’s) and the complex mix of curious flavors provided for ample time for the mind to slow down and comprehend the full sensory pleasure happening at that moment.  Predictably, when you enjoy a food in such real time, the need to splurge on high quantities diminishes (or even vanishes); I found it quite easy to close the lid after one (okay, two) sumptuous samplings, ensuring I wouldn’t be negating the joys of the palette with subsequent digestive miseries of the stomach.

Now that was, in of itself, enough to sway me to the John and Kira’s camp forever more, but what came next is really what is special about their chocolates.  And for that, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for Part 2!

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