Box Chocolate Review

Arnaud Larher

Info Details
Country France   (Paris)
Style New School      (Neo-Kewl)
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Intensity
Complexity
Impact
Monogramed initials pure LA / Hollywood (literally; but it’s A.L., no?). Recalls another name: ‘Artaud’ & theater of the mad. All hat / no cattle; all sizzle / no steak... pick whatever image-over-substance cliché & it’ll stick to this branding-trumps-all venture replete with technicolor marketing & gimmick flavors. Only thing missing: the catwalk with a soundtrack.

Is this the new Paris chocolatier scene... looking LA (cosmetic surgery / vanity), tasting Brussels (faded glories living off fumes of the past now that Belgium chocolate stands for ‘slag’; see Wittamer)?

Why do so many pastry chefs, specializing in hot pink & bright blue delicacies that delight children, think they should play chocolatiers?

For trend-whores who fear sacrificing the illusion of hipness by purchasing The Gold Box (Godiva)... this is the bland-line substitute.
Presentation   4.9 / 5
going straight for the modern optic nerves... neon-bright orange ‘n brown visuals, ‘eat ‘em w/ the eyes first’; the real tantalizer dazzlers tucked w/in, starring an array of thin molds & acetate lids, each sized to fit snuggly in their tray holder
Aromas   3.8 / 5
bit of an AC’d cool patisserie edge fumed & fixed in syrup, butter, cream & chocolate
Textures/Melt   8 / 10
Shells: inconspicuous
Centers: bipolar: some yield easily / smoothly; others stuck to the grain
Flavor   38.3 / 50
trad Euro meets neo-American: the dentist's friend -- each piece a sugar-pumped facility; infusion very, as the French say, ‘present’, as in ‘never going away’
Quality   22.1 / 30
Some decent ideas poorly executed. Too many honking contrivances way out in front of themselves. Surely L.A. or A.L. didn’t just swing by the corner grocers for ingredients but maybe he should have & saved himself some $ in the process.

Glam & affected.
Selections
Couverture: no punch; the little chocolate there is overrun by sugar
Palet d’Or - cream & cocoa reach near stasis point for a Milk Chocolate
Inspiration - marzipan the sawdust while lemon, yuzu & ginger ferment a Milk Choc inspired no doubt during a beer hall frenzy; overwrought
Récif - dunno what exactly this has to do with a reef (récif) but nonetheless a signature piece; playin’ w/ the theme... dives headfirst on a coral-stubbed chocolate, followed by butter & thyme, beaches up some Blue Stilton; fluid motion & beyond adept... filleted w/ singular grace then ingeniously alchemized into a main course, the kind of work that creates buzz & establishes a rep
Caulaincourt - marzipan mashed into oranges & doubled over by Grand Marnier; primitive muck... what’s Arnaud thinking of?
MC Caramel übersweet tastes of artificial vanillin & corn syrup factories
Surprise - as in ‘boo’... a decent piece, fun-crunch texture though the almond / filbert praliné rapidly disintegrate into sugar, then fleur de sel; ham-handed
Le 53 - '53' refers to A.L.’s (or L.A.’s?) address on Courcelle though it might just as well commemorate the great 1953 workers strike in France against austerity measures; a cross of sorts between Arnaud’s horrific Caulaincourt & better-executed Surprise pieces except much greater balance of forces playing nice w/ each other (milk choc nougatine & lemon zest enrobed in Dark Choc), incl a pie-crust rush at the finish
Brasil - café; slow powerful release; forte & true
Douceur - plain Milk Choc; soft malt ball material

Reviewed February 24, 2011
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