Here's the entrance:
Well, that's pretty much the highlight of the exhibition. I mean, except for the gift shop.
Okay, I'm jaded. I've been to Hershey's Museum and Chocolate World. I've see the chocolate fountain at the Bellagio. I've toured chocolate factories. I've watched chocolate videos. This just wasn't all that. Maybe my hopes were just too high.
But the NC Museum of Natural Science has some educational events around the exhibition, and I went to one last week. It featured local chocolatier Hallot Parson of Escazu. I'd been into Escazu - it's a tiny shop which seems geared more to catering than to the random walk-in customer. No problem, I'm a die hard capitalist and want these small chocolatiers to make money.
Now you all know how much I love chocolate and how excited I get when I meet cool chocolate people. I loved watching them make the bourbon cherries in Kentucky, had a blast at Just Born in PA, and adored the tour of A Chocolate Fetish in Asheville. (And you know about my crush on Chuao Chocolatier Master Chef Michael Antonorsi.) Hallot Parson is a serious buzz kill.
I was so bummed when I stopped by the shop and tried to get him to talk about his chocolates. Ho. Hum. He was SO serious. I thought maybe I was keeping him from some important task - like saving the free world. I chalked it up to him having a bad day.
Well, Hallot is just like that. His presentation was interesting but he sucked all the joy out of the room. The auditorium was crowded, by the way. Crowded with chocolate lovers just waiting to laugh and have fun and learn. Not with Hallot. He's the most dour chocolate maker I have yet to meet. He didn't smile once - not even in the slides he showed us of him at the cacao plantation. Is this allowed? Shouldn't the fumes alone keep a chocolate maker in a perpetual state of bliss? Apparently not. I don't think Hallot would be fun to hang out with. All the other chocolatiers are the opposite - I would love to be able to pop in their shops and buy what's new and just bask in their coolness. Hallot is more like an Ooompa Loompa than a Willie Wonka. Bummer.
They do have a great logo:
And some lovely chocolates (although I think their bars are really where the action is). They have a sea salt bar that's terrific. But check these out:
I got these on a very hot summer day, so the bloom on the diamond shaped piece was unavoidable. The bad part is that because Hallot was such a grouch, I can't even remember what all these are. He was no fun to pick them out with - and they were not cheap.
The flat disk is a very thin delicious dark chocolate, but whatever is on top left an aftertaste like dirt. Ugh. Not so good.
The diamond was okay - it didn't blow me away, but it was good.
The tiger stripe brown dome was bad - I'm not sure if something happened with the heat. It reminded me of that horrible blue cheese Vosges truffle.
The small yellowish one has cool Aztec-inspired design work and was good, although it's white chocolate. I wish I had more details as I know there were some interesting flavors I couldn't quite identify. I love it when the boxes have identification or the chocolate shop employees fill out a card for you. I wasn't about to ask Hallot to do anything like that.
I really liked the gorgeous Easter egg truffle:
Not only is it visually breathtaking - look at those delicious layers of chocolate - white, milk, ganache. This was a true work of art - both visual and culinary - delicious!!
The personalities of chocolate are fascinating!! Tomorrow we'll meet Fritz Knipschildt - festive but egotistical. WHEEE!!!