by Musette the Embarrassed
American Midwest, circa 1962: we had Hershey’s Chocolate Bars. Life was good. Then came M&M Wafer Bars (the precursor to Kit Kat)…and for a brief period of time, Hostess Fingers (I swear that’s the name of them but this was in the Jurassic Era – the cupcakes were 12cents and came on the little paper slab with the cellophane wrapping. The fingers were cooler – the same cupcake/filling/icing combo, but elongated and narrow – 4 to a package. I think they were 24cents.
I was in chocolate heaven.
Brussels, circa 1980. My first pot du creme. Chocolate, of course. I nearly fainted right then and there. This was chocolate, unlike anything I’d ever tasted. Next up, hot chocolate made with pastilles instead of milk and Hershey’s syrup! Who knew?
I went dark,darker,darkest….and it was good (except for the ‘darkest’ which got a little gnashy for me – I’m happy as a chocolate clam around 65%)….fell in love with Recchiuti and learned the joys of sea salt and Bourbon vanilla…and bourbon…and smoky caramels….but still stayed within ‘safe’ and ‘accepted’ zones….no odd pairings – and I have never cottoned to the idea of fruit and chocolate (yah, I know. I’m a weirdo)… the occaisonal orange or raspberry-infused something is o-kaaay..but my heart is never really in it.
So last year, I got this box from a pal in Switzerland, during the craziness of Swapmania. In addition to the incredible decants of incredibly fabulous perfumes, there was a package of chocolate bars! Some really smooth stuff in there….Bourbon Vanilla, milk and creme – wonderful, comfortable, expected tastes and I dove in! There was an orange one, which I sort of looked at, then put aside to
share give to a friend.
And then, at the bottom of the hefty stack……a dark chocolate LEMON PEPPER bar.
I stood there, stunned, trying to figure out who on earth would even begin to contemplate a concoction like that. Lemon and Pepper belong on Fish. On Chicken. On fresh, new asparagus and spinach. Chocolate? Oh, you freaks. Oh, HELLZ naw! I put the bar back in the box and shuddering, went back to munching on the safe, acceptable (and fabulous) Bourbon Vanille…..
…and slowly grew ashamed.
See, I pride myself on my gustatory adventurousness, even though I know I am not really that adventurous. But I have worked in so many commercial kitchens, sous-ed (albeit as intern) under so many interesting chefs…. heck Charlie Trotter taught me how to correctly dice an onion! So I’m supposed to be adventurous, the ethnic, female version of Anthony Bourdain, because I am Just That Cool, right? Surely I am capable of trying a lemon pepper chocolate bar! Well, I’m embarrassed to say it took me nearly 4 days to work up the nerve to pop that wrapper. But when I did! OMG!
Now there are those in the Posse family who are, doubtless, doubled over in laughter at the thought of the MightyMightyMusette quailing before a chocolate bar, big fat sissy that she is. But it was just such a weird thing to contemplate. Who knew this could be such a sublime combination! The little fleck of lemon zest and the zing of the pepper augment the sweet smoothness of the Frey dark chocolate, which is not too dark – I am not a deep dark varietal chocolate lover and prefer a lot of smoothness and a decent amount of sweetness in my dark – this is a classic, eatable mainstream dark chocolate – full of flavor without tipping over into saccharine.
And the lemon! The pepper!
And wouldn’t you know it? After a short stint at Target it seems as if you now cannot get those damn things in the US for love nor money. And forget about the Frey website. Some hamster got ahold of a Flash program and ….well, if you can navigate it you are a better web-er than me! So I’m stuck begging for scrabs of bars and hoping I can trade ridiculous things, come Swapmania. But I just wanted to put that little taste-worm out there for y’all! The whole Frey line, apparently available in groceries all over the EU, are just lovely – and none moreso than this absurd pairing!
What is the world coming to? What’s next? Chocolate and Strawberry? Oh, the humanity!
What are your favorite chocolate pairings? What is the weirdest pairing you’ve experienced? Is there something you simply cannot imagine pairing? (mine would be squid and chocolate). And how in the blasted blazes do I get Frey to distribute in the US again?