"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Debauve & Gallais - April 3, 2011

The proud pharmacist-turned-chocolatier seems to suffer from a dissociative identity disorder: One is the haughty and lofty purist; the other a self-aggrandizing megalomania, with a secret desire for the sweet and bitter world domination. To prove this point, Debauve & Gallais even have two websites (see below).

Their Palet Earl Grey bonbon was a testament to their imperial heritage; the Chataigne (chestnut) bonbon the refined grace of craftsmanship. Sadly perhaps, it was the traumatic experience of having to withdraw from the East 69th Street operation in the aftermath of the financial crisis; the balance of D&G’s mind seemed to have started to deteriorate. When I ordered a box of their chocolates in early 2009, requesting the earl grey and chestnut to be included in the pre-packaged box, the gentleman on the phone apologetically assured that they would do their best: “their best” meant only the early grey was included. However, simultaneously, their ambition was boiling: it was at this time a series of shops in China had been opened. Curiously however, neither website openly admits this fact: One ostensibly claims only two shops in Paris and admits the existence of other shops worldwide as of 2009; while the other names only two in China – Beijing and Chengdu – although I have a witness (me) for and an evidence (a picture) of the shop in Shanghai.

Truffles (60% cacao) were silky but bewilderingly light, considering the percentage of cocoa. The Salambo Lait (praline in milk chocolate) was a little too sweet, albeit very savory. The Palet Framboise was lovely with the fruity and fragrant raspberry jam. The Colombien (coffee) was acceptable but average. The Griotte Or (kirsh cherry) was like eating a “shot” and had as much poise. 
The noble Earl Grey was still delicate and exquisite. But the Montelimar contained shockingly bad nougat, which should have been barred from leaving France.

I challenge anyone who can distinguish between the Fleur de Lys (caramel with 60% cacao) and Duo (French caramel with 60% cacao) under a blind test (and no touching because fleur de lys is indeed shaped after its namesake); they were equally forgettable and forgotten already. Most aggravating was the Delice Lait: I wish I had simply taken advantage of the “Rocher” special at Hong Kong Supermarket in Chinatown – three 20-pc boxes for $19.95.

Lastly, the Marron Grace. Even after making concession as to the toil of time – I did not eat them until several weeks later – which does negatively affect humans and marron grace alike, they were still the hardest marron grace I had ever bit into (and failed). They stirred slightly and reluctantly as if from a hibernation after being subject to the hot tea treatment for 30 seconds. However, I should have just left them to continue their fossilization and donate them to a museum for later study, as these candied chestnuts had as much flavor as the ammonites anyway.

Debauve & Gallais
Address (USA): 56 Babbitt Road, Bedford Hills, NY 10507
Phone (USA): 914-244-8998
Websites: http://www.debauve-et-gallais.com/v1/?lg=en; http://www.debauveandgallais.com/main/bonbons2.asp

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