Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chocolate in Minsk

I don’t generally like the chocolate here, and regularly bring a few bars of dark chocolate with me when I enter the country. I prefer chocolates made in Europe and according to French traditions. Russian and Belarusian chocolates contain less (or no) cocoa butter and the beans probably aren’t fermented at all and the chocolate not conched in the way I prefer. OK, you get it. I’m a chocolate snob.

I tried all the local stuff and gave up on it. Until now. The other day I noticed a new store between our apartment and the dance school. The name of the store is in Belarusian, and it translates to something like Old-school Masters of Chocolate. Not really, but I like that translation and I’m sticking with it. They have a cocoa pod in their logo. Since most people around here probably have no idea that chocolate comes from cocoa pods, I thought this might be special.

The next time I walked past the shop it was late, nearly 11 p.m. A light shone in the window, so I approached the door. Yes! They were open, and two employees lingered inside. One left as I came in and began to interrogate the other about his ingredients. I don’t know where he got those ingredients, because he uses the good stuff; chocolates that I don’t know how to obtain in Belarus. It turns out I was talking to the owner, and we presently switched to English. He’d been an exchange student in Ohio at one time, and he speaks English like an American. It turns out in addition that he makes chocolate like a Frenchman.

I bought four of his darkest truffles, one with two kinds of dark chocolate, one with cognac, one with ginger, and one with some kind of booze I never heard of. I tried the one I never heard of first. It was good. Really good. I moved on to the others. When I got to the ginger, my head nearly exploded from intense pleasure. I rushed back in to buy a couple more, squeaking in under the wire as he closed the register. These truffles aren’t cheap by local standards, but they’re priced fairly considering what’s in them and how good they are. In fact, I think they’d be a bargain in some American cities. Anyway, I’ll keep telling myself that as I go back.

Стараменская Майстэрня Шакаладу
Киселёва, 4, Minsk 220029

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