Last week we visited a chocolate shop called Tout Chocolat in the Condessa neighborhood of Mexico City. It took some work to get there: dragging the kids through the busy Mexico City subway system was no fun, neither was getting turned around several times before getting the map right. We were hot, tired and disgruntled by the time we got to the shop and we made it just before the afternoon rains.
Luis Robledo, owner and chocolatier extraordinaire was there to greet us as we stumbled into his shop. Cool, mellow and self-effacing, he instantly made us feel welcome and at ease (Darius later pointed out that Luis shares these characteristics with many other chocolatiers we’ve met). He seemed genuinely surprised that we made the trek to visit his shop after reading an article about him which counted him as one of the 10 best chocolatiers in North America. In appreciation he gave us a plate of his favorite chocolates to try.
We, of course, ravaged them, fighting over the ones that peaked our curiosity such as the lime caramel and the white peach and apricot(the one for which he was now famous). They were all amazing. The lime caramel blew me away with its intensity. The spiced caramel was rich and complex and so was the single origin ganache made with 100% Mexican chocolate. It was exciting to taste these bold flavors and meltingly smooth ganaches and centers. His execution was nearly perfect every time. This is not by accident; Luis Robledo has an impressive CV. He has worked with Daniel Boulud, Francois Payard and Canada’s own Thomas Haas in New York. He also counts Le Circque and the Four Season’s New York as his past employers. Little did we know, but we watched him compete for Mexico at the World Chocolate Masters at the Salon du Chocolat in October!
[See the photos that we took of him in Paris at the end of this post.]
Since I was fresh out of chocolate, I needed to stock up for the next little while. I bought a large box of chocolates (the largest), a couple of bars (he uses Valrhona) and some fruit and nut bark (which ended up being one of my favorites).
These items brought us great pleasure over the next few days in Mexico City. I might even go so far as to say I had a revelation about chocolate while tasting his spiced caramel bon bon. But more on that in the next posting…
[Mini Gallery of Photos from the World Chocolate Masters at the 2011 Salon du Chocolat in Paris]
Churreria “El Morro”
The first thing we did when we got to Mexico City was go for churros and hot chocolate. Mexico City is crowded and hectic and I couldn’t face it without some ammunition.
El Moro is an old school Churreria that’s been around since 1934. The atmosphere is no nonsense cafeteria style with good cheap eats. The restaurant is large, with at least 50 tables that were all full when we got there at four in the afternoon.
We found a table and ordered off a board that gave us four choices of hot chocolate, each accompanied by 4 churros. The choices were, Especial(bitter with cinnamon), Frances(vanilla), Espanol(sweet and thick), Mexicano(with water and vanilla). Since there were four of us, we ordered all of them. They came fairly quickly with a family sized plate piled high with churros. I tried the hot chocolates first and they were all yummy, although the Spanish one was a bit too sweet. The “especial” was my favorite, which was good for me since it was the one I had ordered. The real winner, however, were the churros. Freshly made and piping hot, they were sweet and crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. The sweetness of the hot chocolate was perfectly balanced by the not too sweet churros center. It was a heavenly combination that fortified me to venture out amongst the masses.
As you probably know, Kerstin’s Chocolates has been bringing great chocolate to Edmonton for the last 8 years, and I would like to thank you, our loyal customers, for your support. I began my journey offering specialty chocolate through chocolate education workshops in 2004 and then began manufacturing my own brand of bars, called Chocophilia which were sold in specialty shops in Edmonton and around western Canada. In 2008 I began selling them along with other specialty chocolates in my downtown shop on 112th st. It has been an exciting ride in which I learned many things and met many wonderful people, but the time has come for me to begin a new chocolate adventure.
It is with a sad heart that I must tell you that Kerstin’s Chocolates will be closing its retail shop on April 14th, 2012. There are several reasons why I had to make this decision. The first one is that due to family circumstances, I will be moving to Germany in September. The second reason is that although I enjoyed many aspects of owning a retail store, I don’t feel it fully expresses my potential as a chocolatier. As my family and I travel around the world this year visiting plantations and chocolate makers, I have been learning more about the sources of great chocolate and the complex web of relationships that exist around chocolate. I hope that I find new ways of using chocolate to make a greater impact on the quality of people’s lives. There are many impoverished cocoa growing regions out there where there is a potential to develop sustainably through cacao.
I feel that this is not the end of Kerstin’s Chocolates but the beginning of a new journey. I hope that you will continue to support us as we grow and evolve. Please stay tuned for updates on our web site.
Beginning Tuesday, March 13th, we will be discounting items throughout the shop by 15-40%. Stop by the shop to find out what’s on sale and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily specials. Our final day at the shop will be Saturday, April 14th. *Please note that discounts do not apply to Easter items.*