Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Lindt 99% Cocoa Bar

(this blog is courtesy of my good friend Mike. I turned him onto the wild world of gourmet chocolate a while ago and apparently he's still enjoying the ride. He told me about his experience with Lindt chocolate so I asked him to share. Hopefully he'll continue to blog here, but his main blog is called Mike's First Real Blog. It's a really fun read, so check it out)

Hi, my name's Mike, and I was asked to guest blog here by the lovely Chocolette on my experience with the holy grail of supermarket chocolate, the creme de la creme of casual chocolate, the Lindt 99% Cocoa Bar! As you may recall, Chocolette blogged earlier about her experience with trying flavored Lindt bars. Well, I've never tried their flavored chocolate, but I've always been a big fan of their plain chocolate; I love the taste, the texture, and the sheer amount of it that you get (the sizable quantity along with very solid quality makes Lindt bars a very solid casual chocolate purchase; you get a lot of bang for your buck).

I've always purchased Lindt bars in supermarkets while shopping for regular groceries, and the purest I had seen in the past was 85% chocolate. However, the other day I was in a hoity toity grocery store (World Market, to be precise), and for whatever reason they had a huge variety of chocolate. And sitting on a shelf, gleaming in the sunlight reflected by the big open windows behind it, was a truly glorious sight.

Once I snapped out of my trance, I immediately picked it up, and drove home quickly, eager to try the ultimate Lindt bar. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

I knew this was something special the minute I opened the packaging. Instead of the standard metal wrapping, there was a gold metal lid of sorts, and it had a warning (translated into three languages, no less)! The warning included the following text:

Excellence 99% Cocoa is a unique chocolate that reveals all the strength and richness of cocoa beans. To fully appreciate its flavor and texture, we recommend that you progressively develop your palate through our range of high cocoa content chocolate bars, starting with Excellence 70% cocoa, then 85% and finally 99% Cocoa.

Thankfully, I had undergone the Lindt Rite of Passage and had become accustomed to the 85% level. I was ready. This was what my years of eating Lindt bars had prepared me for. It was time to have the Ultimate Lindt Experience. I opened the lid, and noticed that the square divisions were tiny compared to other Lindt bars, and that the chocolate looked MUCH darker. I broke off a piece, and popped it into my mouth.

The first thing that happened was that my eyes involuntarily shot open from the intensity, and my jaw dropped slightly. My senses were a bit overwhelmed at first; this was by far the most intense chocolate taste I had ever experienced. It was bitter at first, but the taste acclimated quickly to a pleasant but very strong and unrelenting chocolate flavor. I followed the instructions and let it melt in my mouth, which took some time. Once it had melted, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the aftertaste was roughly the equivalent of having just drank a very good, strong cup of coffee. In fact, the aftertaste was so good I didn't really want another bite of the chocolate for a while.

I've been enjoying the chocolate for the past several days, and give it my highest recommendation. You will almost certainly have to go out of your way to find it (like a specialty chocolate store), but if you're a chocolate fan, you can't pass this up.

One note of warning: whether psychosomatic or not, the chocolate has kept me up at night from the amount of natural caffeine in it (for some silly reason, I've been eating the chocolate late at night). I know chocolate doesn't have a lot of caffeine in general, but this is so concentrated I have a feeling the impact of the caffeine is more dramatic.

Well, thanks a bunch for reading, and thank you to Chocolette for the invite to contribute to the blog. Until next time... :)

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