February 3, 2005

all spiced up

As if I didn't have enough chocolate while in Japan, I brought back some more chocolate from there... this time a bit more luxury one.

I got this rather small box of chocolate called Les Quatre Elements at a Tokyo Godiva shop. I had seen it on their website since last autumn but could not find it in Hawaii - I suspect they don't have it in the US. In Europe Godiva does have one, although they simply call it Les Elements. I wonder why they added "quatre" to its Japanese version.

Anyways, as its name "four elements" indicates, there are four pieces of chocolate nested in the box, each representing one of the four elements: fire, water, earth, and wind. And all of them are designed and flavored inspired by the respective elements, as follows:

Fire - passion: bitter chocolate ganache with ginger and cayenne pepper
Water - relaxation: white chocolate ganache with dill
Earth - concentration: milk chocolate ganache with rosemary
Wind - vitality: bitter chocolate ganache with 13 spices of curry

As far as I can remember, this must been the first time for me buying a Godiva chocolate for myself to eat. Honestly, it is a "when I buy it it's for someone else, and when I eat it it's from someone else" kind of item to me at least. Besides, I have never really been tempted to buy a Godiva chocolate anyways (personally I much prefer Neuhaus if I'd choose a Belgian chocolate). But since it was a mix of spice & herb chocolate, I had been very much tempted to try.

So I tried everything of course (I did share them with him, though).

Frankly, they were all good, really got a flavor of respective heab/spices - even curry one. Chocolate with curry may not sound highly palatable, but it was only slightly curry-like; there was just a hint of all the different kinds of spices, and actually I wouldn't even have figured it was "curry" flavor if I hadn't known. Well I particularly liked "fire" and "earth", probably because I love ginger and rosemary. Only thing I would complain is a) they are a bit too expensive to buy a lot and b) they aren't available in here anyways.

And speaking of chocolate with spice, I got a bar of dark chocolate with wasabi, ginger and black sesame seeds called "Naga Bar" from Vosges in Honolulu, at Neiman Marcus in Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Well I bought it before heading for Japan and never even opened it, and it was right before leaving for Hawaii when I read Heidi's post about brownie using Naga Bar, and thought oh! I got this!

In the end I took it all the way back to Hawaii again, and just recently opened it, finally. When I opened the package, it didn't even smell of spice, but there was just an aroma of good dark chocolate. One bite, hum, it doesn't taste like ginger or wasabi... and then, all of sudden, a kick of wasabi emerged, and lingered on for a while. Now I could definitely tell the taste of wasabi, even if it was still a lot more subtle than I had expected. I didn't taste too much of ginger in it, either. It was very discreet.

Black sesame seeds were visible at least, and the chocolate itself was neatly designed by the way (mouse over the image). I browsed their website and was really excited with all the flavors they have, and nearly splurged on a box of exotic truffles, only to realize the shipping charge was just ridiculous. Twenty-five dollars for a box of truffle might be acceptable especially if it was for a special occasion, but a shipping costing more than that can't be an option for me... I will probably have to wait till next time I am in Oahu maybe.

So the wasabi-ginger chocolate is gone, but I still have a stack of spicy/herby chocolate from my last trip to the mainland. DAGOBA's got a pretty appealing line of chocolate of uncommon flavors, including lavender and blueberries I tried a while ago. This time I got more:

Chai (milk chocolate with chai spices and crystallized ginger bits), mint (dark chocolate with mint and a hint of rosemary), xocolatl (dark chocolate with chili, cacao nibs, maca, nutmeg, and vanilla), lime (dark chocolate with lime and macadamia nuts), and lavender. I have tried them all (eh, I got two of each) and they were all good - I really liked mint (w/rosemary) and xocolatl among others.

Since I read the above-linked post by Heidi, I have been wondering how it would turn out if I make chocolate cake/brownies using such herbs and spices instead of using readily-flavored chocolate bars. Chocolate cake with chili has been known to be good, then how about wasabi chocolate cake? Rosemary brownies, maybe? I should give it a try one of these days, as I happen to have more than 2 pounds of Valrhona dark chocolate!


Anonymous said...

The Godiva chocs look so pretty! Like little jewels. The Naga bar sounds especially nice though. And I'd be very interested to see a wasabi chocolate cake. 

Posted by Christina

Anonymous said...

hi chika! it's funny, today i photographed some curry brownies a friend of mine made also based on the vosges naga bar, only using her own curry blend. i thought i might try doing one based on the black pearl bar i received during the holidays. i don't know if those godiva are available here, but they might be; they are pretty!
i think the most beautiful chocolates i have ever had were in enric rovira's planetarium box, which has truffles based on the solar system including a large sun and smaller planets. i don't remember all the flavours but one had earl grey tea-infused dark chocolate covered in milk chocolate, and another had praline and fried corn!
the chocolates i want to try next are from l'artisan du chocolat--the coffee and star anise blend and the marzipan and rosemary blend are tops on my list. 

Posted by santos

Anonymous said...

Hi Chika, there is a spicy chocolate cake recipe from Vosges in Bon Appetit, the reviews are great. You can find it here recipe. I thought you could get these Godiva truffles in the US, actually, I had never heard of Godiva in Europe! The most popular pralines brands is Leonida's in France, but I think Jeff de Bruges are better. Have you tried them? 

Posted by Estelle

Anonymous said...

stop it right now!

Posted by mindy

Anonymous said...

im not a fan of Godiva but those are beautiful, maybe i will get some just to put in a little display case :) lovely chocolate post as usual. mmmm. chocolate. 

Posted by Cat

Anonymous said...

Hi Chika,

I'm visiting Hilo in two weeks. Do you recommend any inexpensive places to eat out?



p.s. Beautiful photos!! :) 

Posted by Kristina

Anonymous said...

Hi all - sorry about my late replies as usual.

Christina - yeah they were pretty, and tasting good, too. I liked Naga Bar a lot, although I wouldn't mind a bit more wasabi-y (just a bit).

santos - aah I saw them! The Spanish "planetarium" chocolate at, actually, D&D in Tokyo. It was too expensive I didn't even take a close look... I also think that I have had l'artisan du chocolat chocolate once. There are so many good chocolate out there to try, aren't they?
How were the curry brownies, BTW?

Estelle - oh thanks!!! I was thinking about making up a recipe for wasabi choc cake on my own, but I might probably just try that one.
I am not certain about Les Elements in the US, as I couldn't find them either in their US website or shops in Honolulu & Colorado. Maybe they do, I don't know. I have tried both of the Belgian chocolates you mentioned, Leonidas even have a shop in Tokyo, too. Theirs are a bit too sweet but good.

mindy - sadly, we have to keep going as there is a whole lot of chocolate left! :P

Cat - they'd sure make a pretty display, but you can eat them, too!

Kristina - I am relatively new to the town and don't eat out very often, so I don't know very many places I can recommend... but if you are into Thai food like I do, Naung Mai Thai Kitchen, on 86 Kilauea Ave. (808-934-7540) is a great place to eat.

I'm not enthusiastic about pizza, but Pizza Hawaii, on 2100 Kanoelehua Ave. (808-959-9932), in Puainako Center, has pretty good thin-crust "NY-style" pizza.

An inexpensive place... Ken's House of Pancakes, on 1730 Kamehameha Ave. (808-935-8711), has pretty reasonable food (not just pancakes/french toasts), I think.

Hope you'll have a nice stay in town! 

Posted by chika

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled in here because I was looking for Les Elements Chocolate from Godiva. I think they're yummy too. If you like spice in chocolate, Michael Recchuti of San Francisco is the master. He's been doing flavors like anise and pink peppercorn, green tea, lavendar, etc. for years. I just wish I still lived in the US and could get some.
- sparky 

Posted by sparky

Anonymous said...

Hi sparky,

I was amused to read your comment as Recchuti chocolate was exactly what I was going to write about in my latest post. I really liked them, too, and wish I was near them! 

Posted by chika