Just recently, I had the good fortune to be contacted by Richart chocolates, wondering if I would be interested in meeting with them to do a chocolate and macaron tasting!
What?? Are you kidding? Do you think I even thought twice about that? Not on your life!
Hey – I really like this job!! I could do this all the time!
The funny thing is, they found this blog, liked what they saw, and contacted me out of the blue. What they didn’t know is that we have a long history with them. You see, we received one of their boxed set of truffles from a vendor as a holiday gift probably 15 years ago. We loved them! Not only were they delicious, they had these very interesting graphic designs on the top of each truffle representing the various flavors inside and they came in this box with three drawers. They were beautiful, wonderfully packaged and tasted great! Now you know my day job is brand design, which includes graphic and package design. At the time we received this gift, we were working on a brand design and marketing program for a very high-end wealth management firm. We drew inspiration from these designs on the chocolates to create cover designs for the marketing pieces for this firm, using several hits of black ink and varnish on black paper. To this day, this piece still looks exquisite, inspired by Richart chocolates!
So the week before last, Madeline Johnson (public relations), Michel Richart (second generation – he says his son is now his boss back in France) and Benjamin Auzimour (U.S. CEO) all came to visit with their treats.
First off, they still make amazing chocolates. These new ones have a liquid bubble center with different flavors such as roasted hazelnut, black and green teas, vanilla with a hint of peppermint, raspberry, citrus and rose caramel, orange with a hint of mint, and “far east market” of seven spices. This drop of flavor infusion bursts in your mouth (must be eaten in a single bite!) and then mingles with the textures of the ganache and the fragile crisp shell that holds the liquid. They’re a wonderful surprise to savor!
Now the macaroons are another story, some savory and some sweet and all so very interesting and delicious!! These are the flavors, in the order they are meant to be eaten: melon; strawberry; ”Marseille” with almond, lemon and star anise; lavender and olive oil; tomato, sweet bell pepper and basil; goat cheese and herbs from Garrigue. The Marseille (although I am not fond of the city) is a conflux of amazing and surprising flavors!!
And the goat cheese, as Caitlin said, she would actually search the city to find more of those.
But what is most amazing is that Michel (a lovely, lovely man) has come up with this whole multi-sensory tasting process, “QuintesSense™“ with steps to achieve a goal they call overall flavor. This is a method of tasting that involves all of our senses and reflects our memories and emotions as we share our knowledge and thoughts with every bite.
Step 1 is proper presentation. (you know I believe in this!) Foods should be well stored and the presentation should be maximized. The tasters have to concentrate a little, too, and be ready to taste. As Michel says, “To eat is an act that gives energy to our body, but to taste is to give energy to our soul.”
Step 2 is knowing the background of what one is eating, down to the provenance of the ingredients, if known. Knowing the back-story for each ingredient helps you to know the final product. As a taster we have to be curious and to ask, says Michel.
Step 3 is sensory analysis. Every one of our five senses will talk to us and we have to learn this special language to understand. In Lyon, Richart has developed some tools to help with this, including a dictionary of words to express feelings.
Step 4 is listening to your heart. This is harder and they don’t have tools for this. You summon memories triggered by the tasting. “This reminds me of…” It’s an emotional analysis of the tasting experience.
It truly makes you slow down to really taste all the flavors and components. This way you have maximum enjoyment of the whole experience. None of just rushing to fill you up can occur.
And he is very clear that his mission in life is to give pleasure to his customers.
Isn’t that great?
You can find Richart chocolates and macarons online at http://www.richart-chocolates.com.
You should really seek these out!