Saturday, January 13, 2007

Blue Mountain Chocolate

The Australian Blue Mountains are Sydney's great wilderness escape. The deep-hued landscape is so lush and vast that it took British explorers more than 25 years to cover it in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, visitors take the two-hour trip from the city to find captivating geological structures like the Three Sisters, indulgent resorts like Lilianfels, and inventive fine chocolates. According to the August, 2006, issue of Delicious, "Chocolate has long been a Blue Mountains tradition, but a recent boom has seen things turned up a notch."

Here are the shops I discovered on my recent trip:

Blue Mountains Chocolate Company: The chocolatier is a European import who crafts over sixty varieties of bon bons, offers chocolate-making classes, and curates an on-again-off-again chocolate museum inside the shop. While there are some over-sweet country-candy-store creations on sale (strawberry fudge comes to mind first), a knowledge of real chocolate prevails.

Josophan's: The most sophisticated of the Blue Mountains chocolate purveyors, Josophan's stocks artisan chocolates from around the world (including an impressive Valrhona selection and the 28-piece Michel Cluizel 1er Cru de Plantation set), chocolate-themed cookbooks, and elegant chocolate-based desserts, in addition to their own bon bons. The signature Tahitian vanilla bean truffle has a stellar local reputation, which is well deserved.

The Paragon: "We're the original Blue Mountains chocolate shop," the proprietress declared when I walked in the door--whether proudly or defensively, I couldn't tell. She runs an odd business. The old-fashioned Aussie tea room has two glass cases, one displaying dusty antiques arranged on doilies, the other showcasing hand-made chocolates. The confections may have been "fancy" a generation ago but they now seem awkwardly out of date. Still, you can't go wrong with the rose and violet creams.

For those who can't make the trip, the Mountain Devil Blue company will put together gift boxes full of chocolate exclusively sourced from the Blue Mountains.


Post a Comment

<< Home