A Melburnian Chocolate Welcome
I recently returned to Melbourne, Australia, the city that I currently call home. I also recently celebrated a birthday. I received a wealth of gifts from my friends and family, including a book from Chris: Epicure Chocolate, the latest culinary collection put out by the editors of Melbourne's The Age newspaper. With sumptuously-styled photos, profiles of revered Aussie food writers such as Jill Dupleix and Stephanie Alexander, and chapters dedicated to every area of chocolate cookery (biscuits, cakes, other sweets, and savoury dishes), this is an ideal chocolate compendium for Melbourne locals (and even for out-of-towners). The cookbook's only drawback is that Australian cakes still tend to rely on cocoa powder where the far more complex flavors and textures of couverture chocolate could be used. Various recipes instruct home cooks to look for chocolate "with at least 70 per cent cacao solids" or to simply "use the best you can afford," but it stops short of instructing readers about the important difference in quality between Nestle baking chocolate and the Lindt "Excellence Collection," or the subtle taste differences among gourmet brands like Callebaut and Pralus. Any local chocolate lover who's curious enough to dirty up his kitchen with some of The Age's chocolate recipes (I tried the "Cheat's Truffles," a great success) would do well to additionally experiment with the various couvertures (Valrhona, Michel Cluizel, Kennedy & Wilson) available at The Essential Ingredient and Simon Johnson.