Dining at an upmarket restaurant in NYC, one of those über-priced temples owned by a rock-star chef. The dessert menu lists an Amedei hot chocolate beverage.

Which Amedei?

The waitress snaps back with “Chuao”, (pronounced ‘chew-wow’), “and we’re one of only a few select restaurants in the world that have the privilege to work with Amedei.”

Oh, the chosen few. Whoa… accompanied by crumpets. OK. Good presentation including a votive candle underneath to retain its heat.

Let’s take a sip… then a quick spit… Chew-what?


Perhaps a shaving or two, but mixed with some grating metal additive (alkalized something or other); only a ghosting of the pure stuff.

Please take it away… which she says she’d be happy to but it’ll have to remain on the bill citing “house rules”, imploring to give it a chance & learn to develop a palate for “fine chocolate”, & that “discriminating connoisseurs & chocophiles proclaim this is the best in the world.”

Hmmmm… poor us, apparently just not prejudiced enough.

We keep the chatter going & here’s a… well, frankly never one to carry a business card but let’s exchange contact info, maybe get together for a cup of cocoa sometime, & she reacts at the C-spot™ email. “No way. Get the frack outta here. You must be kidding. Is this some reality show? Are we on Candid Camera? Have I just been Punk’d?”

She checks out the room then swirls toward the kitchen.

A few minutes later, rock star chef pops out, apologizing & acknowledging that yes, the drink had been “fortified” with cocoa powder. A Nestlé’s Quik™ maneuver.

We discuss the kitchen trisomy of chopping up Chuao for cooking chocolate, smothering its profile in cream & bowls of sugar gilded with cocoa powder; basically vandalizing the crown jewel in Amedei’s collection. Even chocolatiers who’ve employed it well – re: William Curley – do so by applying restraint to the ganache, letting the varietal speak mostly for itself.

All told, this makes for a pretentious mention on the menu & good PR in the cut-throat competition of Manhattan’s downtown restaurant scene except it’s a tasteless move considering Chuao lacks the super deep-throated tanninic structure to cut thru as a base for a drink (that belongs to war horses like ancient Ecuador or an Amazonian strain), & the other ingredients simply wipe out its high fruits. I wondered of the chef “what’s next… uncorking Haut Brion to pour in wine coolers?”

Whether as a draft or dessert, from now on all chocolatarians should demand the same respect for cacáo as given grapes (in wine, for instance). Request a taste, inspect the label, & then decide whether to accept the offering.

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