Do you like chocolate?
Although not as much as some people do.
How about wine?
Do you like wine?
ELV really likes wine. Perhaps a bit more than he should.
The trouble with both wine and chocolate is once you’ve had the good stuff, there’s no going back.
Rave all you want about Two Buck Chuck (or even Thirty Buck Behrens and Hitchcock) — once you’ve tasted a Grand Cru Chablis, or a very old Barolo, satisfied no more will you be with supermarket swill.
Chocolate is the same way. If you’re like ELV, you were raised on Hershey bars and Almond Joys. Then one day, as a young lad, you went to Europe and discovered how much better British chocolate is.
Then a few years (actually a decade and a half) later, you started going to Europe all the time, and you fell in love with what the French and Belgians do with this magical elixir.
For about ten years, until the late ’90′s you went around telling anyone who would listen how superior these sweets were to what we had in the States.
Then, around six or seven years ago, you started hearing about gourmet chocolatiers like Recchiuti, and Vosges Haut Chocolat, had a few tastes, and decided you didn’t have to fly to Paris, Brussels or Milan to get the good stuff anymore.
For a while, some of the best chocolates we’ve ever had were sold at Fredric Robert‘s tiny shop at the Wynn, which, to the everlasting shame of its Food and Beverage Department, closed a couple of years ago. FYI: The best chocolate we’ve ever tasted was at Bernachon in Lyon, France.
These days, we have Vosges Haut Chocolat in Caesars Forum Shops to keep our palates sated with the silky sensuality of roasted, conched and sweetened cacao beans. Although, simple this silkiness isn’t.
This is swimming in the deep end of chocolate making and tasting. Restless souls like Vosges founder Katrina Markoff (a Vanderbilt grad BTW – go ‘Dores!), push the envelope by combining dark Venezuelan (or a 66% bittersweet) with everything from cheese to kirsch to curry.
Her whole inspirational rap is waaaay too New Age-y for a crusty old salt like ELV, but there’s no denying the intensity of what her company makes.
This is risk-taking chocolate, made with the best ingredients in the world. There are hits and misses — but that’s half of the fun of trying whatever combinations are put in front of you.
Like Viognier with a coconut milk chocolate truffle. Perfume and minerals characterize the wine, and it compliments the smooth and silky chocolate perfectly. As did the fortified Banyuls with the Traverse City, Michigan dried cherries — fortified on their own with a little kirsch. Use their suggestions as a jumping off point, and you can start creating your own combos to impress your friends at your next tasting or party.
Vintner Grill has featured a tasting of Vosges’ chocolates since it opened, but for our dinero, sitting in this cool little shop on a hot summer’s day is the perfect place to learn about the marriage of fine chocolates with good wine.
Be forewarned however: Once you start down this path of luxurious, consumable connoisseurship, there is no turning back.
VOSGES HAUT CHOCOLAT
In the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109