When you mix wonderful presentation, fantastic people and a Ballotin of mixed chocolates then you just know you’re on to a winner. At various events I’ve been lucky enough to try Laurent Couchaux’s creations, but never have I had the opportunity to try them in my own bubble with Mazzy Star playing in the background and unwinding after a hectic day on the road. There’s just something special about Rococo Chocolates, and that’s more than many people that may think when they walk past their boutiques and see the wonderful chocolate art inside, for Rococo is a delightfully, soft, unpretentious and unmelodramatic chocolaterie.
Put to one side the Chocolate Cows, the and the New Potatoes and put yourself behind a ballotin of their ganaches, rocher and caramels. Close your eyes and randomly lift one out at a time and savour the flavour, enjoy the texture and explore the aroma. Allow yourself for the new few minutes to have a brief chocolate dalliance that will make wrestle with your conscious about whether you should have “just one more”.
Exploring the contents of the ballotin and matching up the three dimensional delights with the artistic and monotone menu is an experience in itself. If you do choose to experience them with your eyes open, you may have trouble deciding which to try first. I went for the Pistachio, Hazelnut and Praline – just because it looked the most unusual. And the physical appearence was continued with the flavour. Pistachio can so easily offer an intense flavour that that is more akin to confectionary that artisan bon bons, but here the flavour is subtle and understated. It’s still recognisable, but it’s more of an amuse bouche than an abuse bouche. The praline is delightfully smooth and carries a fantastically clean flavour beneath that of the pistachio. Some may prefer more robust flavours, but I prefer this style of praline.
I know some don’t like the combination of violet and chocolate, but call me old-fashioned, but I love it – just as I did with the Matcha Lotus Selection. Here, when combined with the blackcurrant it produces a sort of acidic Refreshers flavour, and even feel. I just love it how it makes the insides of my cheeks feel as they recoil with the fruity acidity. The flavour is clean and, funnily enough, very refreshing. I’d say that this is the perfect summer chocolate treat – if only the weather was obliging.
The Orange, Mango and Passion Fruit was next and was another triumphant fruity creation. The flavours combined offered another refreshing experience. This summer I paddled in the River Avon and it this bon bon gave the same sort of fresh, exhilarating sensation. Some chocolatiers like to knock your socks off with flavour, but these are more like a soft, sensual full body massage.
To restore some sort of balance I had the house dark truffle which had much more of a dark, broody, earthy feel. They tasted a touch alcoholic, although they probably weren’t. Also you may get a very long lasting, Demerara sugar flavour on the tip of your tongue, which when combined with the darker flavours to the side, give a very enjoyable experience.
The last I tried (I want to leave some for my wife and to enjoy over the next couple of days) was the Raspberry Madagascar which upped the acidic stakes a notch or two, but continued the wonderful theme of the previous fruit ganaches. The strange thing was that most of the fruit flavour could be found in abundance at the very beginning and then quickly dissipated to live the mildest of flavours at the side of the mouth. All I can say here was that it was another delightful ganache.
A chocolate ballotin doesn’t have to produce a post-coitus glow to be incredibly enjoyable. Sometimes a kiss and a cuddle is enough to fill a need and that’s exactly what you get here. You’re not left exhausted, just incredibly satiated. Far too many chocolatiers try to push the boundaries of the chocolate world and don’t quite make it. Here Laurent doesn’t try to put a man on a chocolate moon, he doesn’t try rocket science, he just manages to perfectly execute the personal favourites of a massive number of chocolate lovers – and succeeds.