Monday, December 17, 2012

Looking East: Chocolate and the Former Soviet Bloc

The farthest east I've ever been in Europe is Vienna, home of the Hotel Sacher and its namesake Sacher Torte.  But I come from a family of Eastern European Jews, who came from the various places that were variously parts of Russia and the Soviet Union in the 20th century.  A Ukrainian baker I know, in a gracious gesture toward our shared heritage, recently went home for vacation and returned with a bar of something called either "Climor" or "Cbimor."  The wrapper I'm sure identified the bar as a Nestle brand but the unmemorable chocolate appears to be impossible to track online using the Latin alphabet.

It wasn't until I was browsing the shelves at Chocolátl in Amsterdam, though, that the Lithuanian-made Naive chocolate (also available at Fernandez and Wells in England but nowhere particular in the US yet) tipped me off about a burgeoning artisan chocolate scene within the borders of the Warsaw Pact.  A. Korkunov produces chocolate in Russia and provides extensive information online and in Russian.  Academy of Chocolate award winner Rózsavölgyi in Hungary has a bilingual website, an extensive product line that includes Porcelana origin bars and hazelnut dragees.  Polish Manufaktura Czekolady (also known as Chris and Tom) has equally impressive packaging and ingredients, with a website that prompts enrollment in a immersion class.

Yet another trip to add to the wish list.


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