The Chocolate Factory- A Visit to The Fresh Market

Back on track. A focus on chocolate as the highlight of my day. While visiting with a friend at lunch today, she suggested that I try the Fresh Market’s chocolate eclair. Perfect. That sounds delish. I love eclairs-especially with chocolate. Just the thought takes me back to Provence. Like a child, I loved to have a little bon bon after school. I didn’t really have a favorite bakery, so I tried whatever came along my walking path. I never had a bad sweet treat while studying abroad…and believe you me, I tried a good 30lbs worth!

I approached the bakery section of the market with grand expectations. Afterall I don’t think I have had an eclair since my France days. The word eclair in french means lightning- perhaps because they are like a little lightening for your tastebud. No one really know how they came to be referred to as “lightning”.

Imagine my surprise when I came upon this…It looked totally processed. The chocolate on top looked like it had been combed on (notice the lines…like a well raked sand trap on the golf course) and I was appalled to see a jared cherry on top with the red syrup oozing onto the whipped cream. The first eclair the baker pulled out was atrocious. I asked her to put it back and get a better looking one- I couldn’t let my fans down with a dowdy looking eclair.  (Note- I did try to help its appearance by taking it out of the grocery store plastic container and put in on a nice silver tray for the “photo shoot”.

I rushed through dinner to get to my sweet treat.  Surely it would taste better than it looked. Oh the disappointment. The pastry tasted like cardboard. The texture was dense  and my pallette screamed “this is stale”. It’s suppose to be crispy not dense. The cream filling tasted like jello instant pudding and the chocolate on top tasted like Publix cupcake frosting (don’t get me wrong- I love a Publix cupcake, but I expected something more from a french eclair from the Fresh Market). To top it off, the whipped cream on top was TOTALLY processed. Reality check…We are not in France. Definitely not worth $2.99. I could have gotten six eclairs of equal quality if I had just gone to Bi Lo. Perhaps I caught them on a bad day. The good news…I only ate two bits. It never hurts to save a few calories.

Now for the good news. I couldn’t help but make a stop at the chocolate section of the store. After all, it was on my way to the bakery section. Imagine my surprise when I saw Vosge Haute Chocolates! www.vosgeschocolate.com  This is the chocolatier from Chicago I mentioned on Sunday’s post. My favorite chocolate. Oh I couldn’t resist. And in the spirit of Commingle, I tried a new “flavor”. The Red Fire Bar: Mexican ancho y chipotle chillies, Ceylon cinnamon and drak chocolate. So- I like Mexican food; I love cinnamon (take two cinnamon vitamins everyday) and of course we all know I love chocolate.

Get this- the bar comes with instructions on how to eat it in order to maximize the experience:  “How to enjoy an exoctic candy bar”.  It looks to be an almost yogic experience. Oh my- all of my favorite things rolled up in one and for the value price of $5.99.

First you breathe- put on soothing music and breathe in (Yes- just like Yoga. I can do this.). Then you observe- dark glossy shine (got it) and you should see some red flecks of chili embedded in the chocolate (not so much…just brown); Smell- I rubbed my finger over the bar to release the aromas- well I didn’t really smell anything. Maybe because the smell of the processed eclair was overpowering.

Dig in- nibble on the chocolate and let it melt to the roof of your mouth. The melting part was a bit of a challenge. You know how easily a Hershey’s kiss melts in your mouth…it’s because of the cream. Dark chocolate melting is a bit more challenging.

Now for the taste- First flavor was bit like sweet tobacco- then for the spice- wowsers. You can feel the pepper flakes as it melts and then my eyes started to water. This is really hot..but sweet at the same time. It almost burned a little as it went down. Ah cinnamon-the final flavor- like cinnaburst gum with the “flavor crystals”.

The finish was more cinamon than chocolate so your mouth is left with a fresh cinnamon clean feeling (rather than that chocolatey coated feeling)- but with some remanent of the tobacco flavor.

What an experience. It was almost like the spiciness lit a fire while the rich chocolate cooled and soothed. This one goes on the keeps list. This bar brings chocolate to a whole new level.

Tomorrow I will be participating in Oprah’s No Phone Zone Day. One day without using the phone while driving. That means no talking or texting. Any one else up for the challenge?

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