Sometimes we look at a box of chocolates and all we see the chocolate and the cardboard surrounding it. But rarely do we ever think about the journey the chocolatier has taken to get these treats before you. Although the back history of Sylvain Mussy doesn’t contain anything remarkable, but reading his biography the effort it must have taken to win the first prize in the Festival International du Chocolat becomes evident. What is also mentioned is his desire to bring more rustic, traditional flavours into his work, and you just cannot argue with that.
Whilst listening to Albatross by Fleetwood Mac it seems apt to not stress about photography, but to enjoy each in turn as I randomly choose a bon bon from this hotch potch of irregular shapes. Some indicate what is contained within such as the Citron Vert, Cannelle, whilst others enforce a lucky dip approach to chocolate eating – and I’m happy to chance my arm.
The first has ‘Colombey-les-Deux-Églises’ printed on the top. This is a historic municipality in what is now the Juzennecourt canton and the location of Sylvain’s first chocolaterie, as well as being the home of the founder of the fifth French Republic: Charles de Gaulle. This was a two layer pistachio praline which, although a touch dry, had an incredibly rustic characteristic that is a world away from the highly polished bon bons you’d expect from chocolatiers such as Pierre Marcolini. The flavours are most certainly there, and the right degree of intensity to make this a very enjoyable first encounter.
The second was a more traditional praline but which had an amazing under-current of flavour which I just couldn’t place. Perhaps it was mint. Whatever the flavours were they were incredibly well-balanced. At first I thought it was in the mould of Leonidas, but I couldn’t be further from the truth, there is real character with this praline
The third was an intense, bitter dark chocolate ganache that really wouldn’t appeal to people that have to have chocolate designed by committee. This is full of rough edges, with an alcoholic (Cognac?) tone. The flavour is incredibly long lasting and just fills your mouth with an authentic bitter-sweet chocolate flavour. The texture doesn’t lend itself to being consumed en masse, it is, however, most delightful.
One of the triangles was an almond paste infused with what seems like triple sec or some other curaçao. Again the texture was course, but the flavour simple, but effective. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason for the contents of this selection. It seems to be the creation of someone just having fun with chocolate and ingredients and the experience is all the better for it.
I finished off with a sweet milk chocolate ganache coated in dark chocolate. Although it’s certainly nowhere near as off the wall as the others, it most certainly is divine. The sweet flavour centres your taste buds. Everything above your neck is focused, like a laser, on that sense. Its crisp, clean and utterly delightful.
I think Sylvain Mussy proves that you don’t have to have a factory full of the finest gimmickry, nor the marketing department the size of Pierre Marcolini, nor the web presence of Hotel Chocolat to produce chocolate that really should be taken notice of. If you like good, honest chocolate, made with passion and freedom to explore flavours then I implore you to seek out his shop if you’re ever in Paris.
This selection box couldn’t have been further removed from the Hugo & Victor semi spheres yesterday. These are nowhere near as polished as the previous. And if you asked me, I think I prefer these purely because they tasted more authentic and had a much wider variety of flavours.
I started off listening to the mighty Mac, but I think this is the perfect song for these chocolates: