The term ‘passionate’ is much over used when describing someone who makes a living from doing what they love (and god knows I’m as much to blame as the next person for it’s over use) hence, it just doesn’t have the impact it perhaps should, but I recently had the fortune to meet a man who is this description incarnate. In fact scrap that, this man is just plain obsessed, with chocolate, full stop. And if you don’t believe me check out his personal blog www.cocoaskiss.blogspot.com The man in question is Geert Vercruysse and he is the Belgian chocolatiere and patissier with the business Parisserie Vercruysse.
I had the good fortune to meet Geert at a chocolate tasting evening hosted by Chocolate & Love earlier on this year. The chocolatier had travelled over to London to research our very own chocolate culture and visit our chocolate shops (he seemed totally bemused by our fixation with the salted caramel, saying he was offered one in practically every shop he entered……what? It’s bloody amazing stuff!) and had been roped into coming along by Richard since his trip coincided rather neatly with the evening. He had brought along with him a small selection of his chocolates to sample, and after a taste of several of them I found myself desperate to get hold of a selection of my own to enjoy.
Alas, based in Belgium, his chocolates are currently unnavailable in the UK (although I know he is working on this), but we exchanged emails, kept in touch and before long I discovered he had a small quantity for sale at The Chocolate Festival just prior to Easter. As you can imagine, it didn’t take me long to hunt them down and before long I was reassured to have a small box in my possesion.
I haven’t taken too many pictures as they didn’t travel well and really didn’t enjoy the unnexpected Easter heatwave as much as I did. I’ve been meaning to write about the selection for ages but seeing as you’re not able to get them over here, there seemed no urgency and I’m afraid the post kept getting pushed back to the end of the queue. In fact, I almost didn’t bother writing it at all as I was enjoying the choclates just a little bit too much… Suffice to say they dissappeared months ago and there is nothing left now but my scribbly, chocolate marked notes; but don’t worry, you’ll get the gist…
The reason I’m bothering to write this is they were outstanding; superb, exquisite and every other superlative invented for amazing. Every single little piece bursting in the mouth with individually vibrant flavours. As I explained, those chocolates are distant memories but reading my notes brings them back to the fore. I’ve tasted plenty of ganaches but never ones that quite explode with clarity and depth of well defined flavours like these did; a clear testament to his skill, and dedication to his craft.
I’ve never been overly fond of the transfer pattern style of chocolate ganaches but they seem to be popular and to be honest I’m getting used to them. They look good, even though mine are obviously slightly battered, but quite generic and certainly don’t belie the delights within. I’m also rather distraught to discover a lack of menu; a real pet hate of mine as it removes a vital ingredient, that for me, is part and parcel of really enjoying a box of chocolates; that of poring over the descriptions and making my informed selections.
But all this is easily forgotten on tasting. Each of the chocolates was beautifully orchestrated; in my selection I was thrilled to taste a delicate lavander praline, exquisite in it’s elegance, sweet and lightly crunchy from the nuts. There was, what I believe, an apricot ganache, silky smooth and dark, it equally surprised and delighted with it’s beautifully fresh and subtle notes. The pistachio praline was unnexpectedly and deliciously sweet and chunky, packed full of gorgeously chewy caramelised nuts, a plain marzipan was ethereally light and almondy. I found amongst the rich and sumptious ganaches floral notes of geranium and another reminiscent of bergamot. Many of the chocolates are dual layered; a chocolate ganache or praline with a strip of praline or marzipan below, I love this contrast of textures and flavours within each piece, and once again the balance is spot on; rich and fruity ganaches tempered by mellow praline and little bursts of salt.
So, you may not be able to enjoy these yourself just yet, but it’s a name to keep your eyes out for. Geert’s been working closely with ethical chocolate company Original Beans this year, using their outstanding chocolate to create a range of single origin ganaches. I believe it’s these sorts of collaberations that set him apart from other chocolatieres and will keep his product contemporary, and that’s really refreshing in this industry where I find a lot of chocolatieres seem to work in isolation, this I find very exciting!
I believe he’s back in the UK this month, so I for one will be keeping an eye out for any future projects.Tweet