My view of chocolate is that its future lies firmly with the imaginative and those chocolatiers that are able to match a great level of inquisitiveness, technical ability and marketing nouse will succeed and be the winners in this highly competitive industry. I sure I’m right in thinking that this business is worth something like £4bn (or so) a year and by looking at a small niche and doing a great job can still prove particularly rewarding. And Katie’s Matcha Chocolat selections do just that.
The Lotus Selection is my third review of her selections after the Emperor’s and the Jade selections but between then and now I’ve reviewed some outstanding selection boxes, so does this new one compete? Well that’s have a look.
Well nothing has changed with the packaging, it’s still simple but effective an immensely informative. This is the area that so many chocolatiers fail. To my mind, and I could be wrong, it’s essential that everyone should know what they’re about to consume. And if you’re as fussy as my wife, you’ll generally not try anything you’re not sure what it contains. Katie, however, gives a wonderfully simple menu of the ganaches where she shows, without any ambiguity, which one is which. And one of my biggest “bug-bears” when reviewing selection boxes is not knowing which one I’m actually reviewing and having the fear that I’m saying it is one thing when it’s completely different! Thankfully I won’t, I hope, make that mistake here.
I think I must have sort of OCD or something as I always start with the top left in any selection box, and here its’ the ‘April Snow’ ganache which has been infused with white tea liquer which (I think) gave it a wonderfully sweet aroma that had an orange edge. It may not look anything special as it’s a simple white dome with the white ganache inside, but the flavour was anything but average. In fact, Katie offers a new paradigm with her chocolates which just leaves me without any sort of reference point. I couldn’t mention any other flavour that it reminded me of. Even with a gentle roller-coaster of flavours which transitions through a variety of tones, I couldn’t give you any sort of similarity. But, if I was pushed greatly then may be almonds, horseradish and grilled flat mushrooms. But don’t let that put you off, they’re deliciously sweet.
And now it’s the time to move onto a wonderfully patterned dark chocolate enrobed square which has a filling infused with Ganmaicha tea. And this was sensational as I love intense flavours and here it had a mocha type nature which just managed to give you a sweet buzz without going over the top. It was completely different to the first and just was, to be honest, more “down my street” as I prefer slightly more bitter ganaches.
I’ve tried the Masala Chai before and I still love it. The ginger adds an important dimension as without it may be a touch mild, but the ganache does compliment it well by adding more subtle notes to the flavour range – I can just sum it up as ‘delicious’.
Next I tried one with what looked like space rock on the top, but in actual fact was the Secret Garden. At first it reminded me of sherbet dab or some other flavour from my childhood, but fully expect it to be the violet flavour which was just sensational. More people should use violet in their chocolate as it gave a wonderful characteristic. It’s in the same bracket as rose which seems over-used these days, but I feel violet offers a much more pleasant and regal tone – everyone try this one! Very sweet, but gorgeous.
And lastly it was the turn for the Keemum Mango which a milk chocolate demi-dome with a milk chocolate ganache infused with Keemum tea with a piece of dried mango adorning the top. I do love fresh mango with vanilla ice cream, but have never got on well with it with chocolate before. Here it offered another mild alternative to the others in much the same way the Genmaicha did. In fact it works in much the same way as a sorbet does in the way that it sort of cleans and refreshes your pallet.
I don’t know why, but before I reviewed these I had the belief that these couldn’t be as interesting as Katie’s others, but there were some absolute corkers in there that introduced me to flavours I’ve not tried in this context before, and I’m grateful for the experience.