Fresh out of university I decided to travel around Europe on my own. I connected the capital cities by train like a giant game of dot to dot. One of my favourite destinations on my month long sojourn was Budapest. The people were friendly, the company outstanding and I had the best few days of my life. Back then I wasn’t much concerned with finer things in life. I swapped great wine for 3 litre plastic bottles of ‘plonk’ bought from the Nyugati train station across the road and as an alternative to Hungarian delicacies I consumed Big Macs as if they were going out of fashion. As I returned home a stone lighter I certainly needed the calories.
As I meandered through the gorgeous historic façades I probably passed the current location of Rózsavölgyi Csokolade on Királyi Pál several times but then there was no indication then that Hungary could ever produce chocolate that’d be willing to travel back for. Back then the extent of my chocolate knowledge had progressed somewhat from Dairy Milk on to the dizzying heights of Lindt and Green & Blacks. Then I couldn’t countenance anything so fragrant, flavoursome and gorgeous being produced behind the Iron Curtain I so avidly studied the year before and which prompted my visit to the former Soviet Bloc countries.
A few years ago I wrote an article about how great American chocolate had become, but following a session with the Porcelana chocolate bar and some other chocolate from the region I feel the need extol its virtues.
Many chocolate lovers would hold the Porcelana bean with some sort of mythical status, perhaps just below that of Chuao. I wouldn’t go that far. I do agree it can produce great chocolate, but with so many organisations now producing chocolate from the bean I almost believe it’s become a bit per se. This Rózsavölgyi Csokolade 71% interpretation, however, has reinvigorated by love for it though.
But before I get on to the chocolate itself, Rózsavölgyi Csokolade has created perhaps the finest packaging I’ve ever witnessed. If you can read Hungarian there’s a fantastic amount of information about the bean and how they operate. The reverse shows in fine pen that this bar is 139rd out of 1700 to be made, its batch number P3801 and has a Best Before Date of 30th April 2014. I contend that they’ll never last that long.
For some reason reverse psychology plays on my mind when I see chocolate bar with an Academy of Chocolate logo emblazoned on it. I’ll leave my reasons for private audiences, but what I do know is that in this circumstance this bar thoroughly deserves its award and actually deserves more than the ‘Bronze’ it was given.
The finish to the chocolate is fantastic, there were a couple of bubble holes which, for others, may tarnish the bar, and to me it makes no difference. The mould is ornate and interesting and certainly adds character. The aroma is beautifully acidic and reminiscent of the heat of summer in an incredibly fragrant English Heritage garden. It’s almost like sitting in a huge bag of lavender.
The solidity of the texture is somewhat special too. It takes a life time to melt. It’s tacky like tar as it does so. It just keeps wanting to deliver the fruit intensity of its payload. You should get tones of cedar wood, orange, caramel and cinnamon. I just absolutely adore this chocolate. It may not evolve with such rich intensity as some Chuao chocolate, but this meant to be a softer, elegant experience, and it certainly achieves that.
Later in the year I’ll be spending a week holed up in a Peak District cottage and I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than having a bar of this on the go with a log fire and a good book. To me that would be heaven.