Forum Activity for @Keith Ayoob

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
11/16/15 03:53:06PM
39 posts

How Credible Is A Chocolate Competition When There Is No Validation Criteria For Contestants?


Posted in: Opinion

Not sure I have a place here, as I'm just a layperson and consumer who likes really good stuff, but to me, "bean-to-bar" is Clay's definition, as he stated above.  Not complicated.  Bean-to-bar is bean-to bar, period.  You have a handle on it from start to finish.  If you don't, then that's fine, too.  Good chocolate doesn't always have to be bean-to-bar, but just say what it is. 

To a lay consumer, a little honesty goes a long way.  And if we find out you're lying or being deceptive.....it's REALLY not good for business.  A company should never play with a customer's trust.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
09/20/15 05:18:22PM
39 posts

List of Specialty Retailers of Craft, Bean-to-Bar Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

I can vouch for the Chocolate Covered store in San Francisco.  Jack Epstein is the owner and he seems to know everything about every bar he carries.  I travel to SF once monthly and he always seems to have a bar I haven't  tried.  If I told you what I spend on chocolate in that shop you'd have a heart attack.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/06/14 10:03:58AM
39 posts

Group Review - Fortunato #4


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Given that chocolate nuances can be many, I'd suggest a more granular scale of 1-100. You could stay with 1-10 and allow decimal points, but decimal pointssmack of a lot of math and that freaks people. People are used to the 1-100 scale, given things like school test scores, the Wine Spectator rating, yada, yada.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
12/17/14 08:32:36PM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

Kind of recalls that adage, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should..."

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
12/02/14 09:41:16AM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

Well, you could have a career as a copywriter. I agree with you. This is probably a case of the emperor having ordinary clothes. Singing poetry to the cacao trees probably won't change the taste of the resulting chocolate from them.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
12/01/14 10:45:01AM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

I ran into someone at a great shop in SF called "Chocolate Covered" that'sabout the best overall variety of high-end chocolate bars anywhere. She said she'd been to a tasting of Toak the night before and liked it, "but I've also had ones that I liked better." We both agreed that we were "not there yet" with respect to valuing that particular bar at the current asking price.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
11/17/14 01:00:16PM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

100 bars? I feel better now. Most I've had is about 20-25, max, and I get heat about that. Part of me would like to compare the To'ak bar to one of my favorite single origin varietals or something similar and see how each one shapes up. A cynical part of me is thinking these makers are sizing up the cash they'll pull in from 574 bars priced at $260 each --a cool $149,240. Not a bad haul for about 63 pounds of finished productso for me, I have to balance wanting totaste this chocolateagainst feeling like I'm being ripped off. For now, I say the maker is getting the better end of the deal, IMHO, but to each his/her own.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
11/17/14 11:34:50AM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

Good for them. There mightcome a day when I buy one but today isn't it. There is a certain niche population that will love being part ofan elite group of purchasers (or maybe they're just curious). I'm sure the chocolate is terrific (or word will spread really quickly to the contrary!) and they would have no regrets about the purchase. As for me, I was never one to line up days early to buy the latest iPhone either. Great marketing however and sure to sell out.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
02/22/14 02:03:16PM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

You're probably right. One thing that would tip the scales (and this is unlikely to happen, but...) is if a particular varietal chocolate was found to have unique benefits. It would have to be something special, such as lowering cholesterol better than a medication, boosting libido, curing XYZ condition, etc. and would have to be unique to that particular chocolate. Taste alone, at least at this point, may not be enough of an impetus.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
10/28/13 09:47:20AM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

I often tell people who wince at what I pay for an 80 gm bar that it will last me longer than the bottle of wine they bought and will drink within a few hours. That said, I can agree with both Tom and Paul: it needs to be a "destination" but also one that people can reach fairly easily. It also needs to be in a region where there are multiple options so people can go on e "cacao crawl" as it were, and sample several in a day or two.

Of course, there was a lot of talk on the news this morning about the huge increases in cocoa prices over the past year, what with India, Russia, China, and other co8untries getting in on the chocolate craze and hiking demand. This could lead to more chocolate planting in the long term (and I hope it's good quality stuff that is planted). That $100 bar may not be as far off as it originally sounded.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
12/12/12 11:31:04PM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

Have you seen Valhrona's El Pedregal Porcelana? It's also dark. They even say it's all "estate-grown". If they're saying it's Porcelana but it's actually a blend, isn't that illegal? Not sure, just asking. I always thought Valrhona was pretty upstanding.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
12/05/12 10:25:30AM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

Interesting point. As I see it, to get to the $100 bar, the quality would have to be exceptional. It would for wine, and people are already used to paying big for wine. They're not used to paying that much for chocolate though, so it would need to be something exceptional and consumers would have to really be able to taste the difference. It would also have to be something not easily replicated, to minimize the chance of having a "cheap knockoff."

As for chocolate bars, good idea, long overdue. There are the beginnings of such, and the Bittersweet cafe in San Francisco is an example (although they never seem to make hot chocolate hot enough, it's usually tepid for some reason). But if people see a chocolate bar in the same way they see a coffee bar, then the $100 chocolate bar may have some trouble. People won't pay $100 for even a whole pound of coffee, let alone a fantastic cup.

My point regarding the $100 bar is just that -- what's the point? If it's to make totally exceptional quality that is truly noticeable, then great. If it's to get the industry all ginned up, then it's harder to support, but it might still work with certain consumers who get caught up in status. We all know a huge company thathas done a lot of that -- pretty gold boxes, high prices, etc. and personally, I don't think they have a truly superior product. They've even been known to include some vegetable fat for cocoa butter. Ick. And it does nothing to help the industry, even if their bottom line may be good. Again, I'm not in the industry, just a consumer, but it may be good to hear from some of us, too.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
12/04/12 03:53:12PM
39 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

OK, so it would appear that Clay's $100 bar is perhaps closer than we think. My opinion on this is from that of the consumer, not as an industry insider and is thus: "Have you lost your minds? Expensive chocolate, I'm there with you. But 'non-believers' still can't fathom us paying $10 for a good bar. Up it by 10-fold and it starts to look like the consumer, even the elite consumer, is just getting screwed. The actual cost of a $100 bottle of wine may not be greater than that of a $10 bottle of wine, to be sure. And there may be people who will gladly pay $100 for a bar of chocolate. But there are also people who will pay $800 per couple to eat at Per Se in NYC. The question then is, what are you paying for? The same quality meal could be had elsewhere, but there's the view, the cache, etc. A bar may not be able to claim all of that. And wine does get people feeling no pain. Chocolate makesus feelgood and all, but not sure it's the same thing. (Personally, I prefer the effects of chocolate over those of wine, but I may be in the minority.) At the endof the day,a $100 may be good for the industry, but it also may not. If the public rejects it as being toooutrageous, thenit may end up being discounted at some level. That wouldn't help either side of the industry/consumer coin and it would make those few who paid full price look like idiots. People never like thinking they got taken to the cleaners.

Just thoughts fromsomeone who lots of people think spends too much on chocolate.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
02/16/12 12:50:32PM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Thank you for this reply, Irina. It appears that chocolate occupies all the "extra space" in Chloe's diet. I'm with you -- still very much an apprentice. I'm off to Prague today -- any suggestions about chocolatiers there? To be safe, I'm taking some Pralus with me.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
02/06/12 12:40:01PM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I looked at your ratings. Ow. You've been at this a while. I visited Pierre Marcolini and bought several bars there but I don't remember them being as expensive. With the prices you list, it's cheaper to fly to Paris to buy them!

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
02/04/12 10:21:09PM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Oy. I just realized that, at about 50 gm per day, I'm eating a little over 18 kg per year. I'd rather say in eating 50 gm per day. Sounds nicer. To be fair, the research on chocolate is reasonable. I totally burn it off, and if you're eating 70% or higher, it's actually got a reasonable amount of fiber. I do skip it some days, but I find myself wishing a nice restaurant just offered a few squares of good chocolate rather than all the fancy desserts. They're nice, but the chocolate would be even more satisfying and have lots fewer calories. Anyone outdoing me on the consumption end (and willing to go on record?!)

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/07/12 11:02:05AM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Actually, I went through Chloe's book again, and when she does her TASTINGS she spits out the chocolate. It's less clear how much she eats when she's just eating for pleasure. She has some errors in there howver -- saying things like ganache being more fattening than chocolate bars. Nope. They both have about the same number of calories. Onemay just have more fat from cream, the other has morefat from cocoa butter.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/06/12 11:12:43AM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

OK, now I feel like an idiot. Thanks very much for this info. Heretofore, much of my bar-buying has occurred at Fog City News in SF, as I'm out there about once a month, soThe Meadow is a real find. Ironically, I was right around there last night for dinner. I was actually unfamiliar with chocomap andhalf the places you mentioned. I should probably lose my chocophile membership card or do penance by being forced to eat carob. Many thanks for the info here!

Keith

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/05/12 10:36:50AM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Speaking of shops around Manhattan, I've haunted La Maison, Michel Cluizel, Leonidas and Jaques Torres. I've had Vosges elsewhere. Anyone I'm missing?

I heard there was a Xocolat shop downtown but can't seem to get any info. I tried their choc/oliveoil bar at Fog City News in SF and liked it. A bit odd, but good.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/03/12 09:28:36PM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Exercising is essential, but not just to allow for chocolate. I just like to be active anyway and it's good for everyone to do what they can to be active. Of course, the benefit is that it provides a nice "ace in the hole" by allowing a few more discretionary calories -- that most of us would prefer to spend discretely (or not) on good chocolate!

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/03/12 09:24:30PM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I agree that chocolate should be it's own food group. I'd take it a step further and say that really good, high-quality, high-cocoa content stuff should be a deductable medical expense, but the powers that be don't seem to agree.

Re: Chloe, like I said, she couldn't actually eat that much on a daily basis. Gotta be way overreported. Unless she tastes but spits out, like the wine and coffee tasters do, but that would seem to be a real waste of good chocolate.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/03/12 12:16:41PM
39 posts

How much chocolate do you eat per day, on average?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

When I read that Chloe Doutre-Roussel in The Chocolate Connoisseur wrote that she ate something like a pound of chocolate a day, I didn't believe it and I still don't. I just wondered how much people usually eat per day, on average. If there's aforum/discussion about this, I missed it, so please excuse.

I know that for myself, a 100 gm bar lasts about 2 days. That's way more than the "per capita" consumption, but in a group like this, it might be far lower. Just wanted to find out how it is for you all. If you respond, just be honest. No one's making any judgements here. Hell, many of my friends think I'm insane for spending $11 for a 100 gm bar of good stuff. I usually counter that they'd spend much more on a bottle of wine that wouldn't last as long, but I digress. If you're on this forum, then I'm assuming good chocolate takes you to your happy place (maybe good wine, too).

Good stuff should be savored, in my book, so I try to take my time eating it. Usually I find that after an ounce or so, I'm good for a while, but that may be just me. Mind you, I'm not inquiring about how much you COULD eat, just how much you do on average.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Cheers,


updated by @Keith Ayoob: 04/10/15 05:43:50AM
Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/03/12 12:59:20PM
39 posts

Cocoa Beans Shells, What can you do with it?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Many of the nurseries near my home sell it in large bags -- 20 or 30 pounds or so -- for mulch, but Antonino is right. It can be deadly for dogs, and since I have two, it's out of the question. It does smell great however. You go by the pile of bags and it smells of cocoa. The tea thing sounds interesting.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/03/12 11:51:55AM
39 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

Do the tasting BEFORE brushing. OK to have some water, but room temp water -- nothing cold, or the chocolate will take longer to melt. It's the most intense way to taste chocolate -- even if it's impractical for most people. Also not good if you're not a "morning person".

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
01/02/12 02:16:24PM
39 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

Hi Brad, and Happy New Year,

For some reason, your post of several months ago escaped my attention, and in many ways I agree with you. It's fine to differentiate your products from those of your peers. Terrific and good for you -- I'm acapitalist, too. But you can learn to do the same thing without turning people off. Your passion for your chocolate comes through and I like that. But if you can make an elite chocolate and do so without elitism, and people will not only love your chocolate -- they'll love your company. The approachcan be made to beas easy to swallow as the chocolate, is all I'm saying.

As for Recchiuti, he does some nice things with chocolate,andsome of his bars are are very good, and I wouldn't want to have standards that are so incredibly high that I never eat anything but bean-to-bar. An analogy: do youforego buying a car until you can buy a Rolls? Of course not.

I absolutely agree with you on this: there are plenty of "chocolatiers" who probably make their stuff from Baker's chocolate or some such stuff,pretty it up with lots of interior decorating, and jack up the price. Big mistake, to be sure, and it does muddy the field for legitimate people. BTW --I actually DO seek out companies that make their own chocolate. (I'm with you about Lindt, and regarding Godiva, well, the empress has no clothes and hasn't had any for ages.)

Indeed, I actually tried to purchase SoChoklat online, but it would appear that you don't deliver to the US, because I couldn't arrange delivery anwhere but Alberta. Do you market here? If not, it's a bit like saying "we're the best anywhere, and you can't have any." See what you can do to sell some to us.

BTW -- I fully agree that a side-by-side tasting of several bars from one company is a great way to go. I've even done it first thing in the morning, as recommended by Chloe Doutre-Roussel. At first I thought the ideawas nuts, until I had bought some bars while on a business trip and I did the tasting one morning in my hotel room. I was blown away by the heightened acuity in my taste buds. I highly recommend the early morning tasting idea, but it's not for the faint of heart.

Cheers,

Keith

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
07/08/11 12:41:14PM
39 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

I'm not an authority, just a chocolate lover who is fascinated by thegrowing, making, tasting of chocoolate and the whole experience. That said, I was REALLY disappointed (but I totally blieve it) to learn about the ridiculous snootiness of the chocolate maker in question. I don't care if they "re-melt" the chocolate. If we could rely only on bean-to-bar, then none of us would be eating it. Recchiuti makes great chocolate. Period. So do many others. Enough with the snootiness. What's next? "My mother can beat up your mother?" Quality matters to me, and I'm glad there's attention to that from many more chocolatiers.
Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
12/04/14 04:08:01PM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

People have expectations that chocolate will always be sweet. I've eaten unsweetened chocolate bars (or pieces of them, and only if it's REALLY good stuff) by choice, because I wanted something less sweet. No one eats a potato chip and complains that it's not sweet because the expectation is that it will be savory, but with chocolate, they always expect it to be sweet. Takes a more open-minded chocolate eater to be receptive to chocolate as an ingredient in more savory stuff.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
05/05/14 04:17:29PM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

The only camel's milk chocolate I've tried is Al Nassma. Ironically, I brought a bar to work today. Only 2% camel milk powder, so not sure if what I'm tasting is camel milk or the honey they also add to it, but it's interesting.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
02/26/14 03:56:18PM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

These sound great. I must admit -- not sure if anyone else feels the same -- but when I pay high-end prices for good chocolate, interesting flavors are awesome to have, but I'd prefer not to have a lot of groceries mixed in. Paying in excess of $50 per pound of chocolate is one thing, but I don't like paying that much for all the lower-priced "particulates", reason being that I'm actually getting less chocolate.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
09/19/13 11:15:11AM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I have to butt in regarding camel milk. If the company actually says is has less lactose, fine, it may. If they say it has more insulin, then they're big-time confused or just misleading you. No milk has insulin. Further, it wouldn't matter if it did because you can't take insulin orally. If you did, it would be digested and denatured as a protein and would therefore have none of the effects you'd expect from insulin. For a diabetic, they'd probably be better off with chocolate with higher cocoa content than milk chocolate, which has more sugar than very dark chocolate. Sorry for the distraction -- I just don't like anyone being mislead, even unintentionally. OK, back to chocolate!

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
09/19/13 11:08:23AM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

This combo actually makes sense to me. The ouzo is kind of licorice-fennel flavor and the hot chili. I've occasionally eaten a bar from Vice chocolates in California that's 65% cocoa and is topped with dried figs and fennel seeds. I'd like it a little higher in cocoa content but I'm quibbling. Very good.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
06/10/13 09:59:14AM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I also happen to like the taste of smokey cocoa beans, at least those I've tasted. I'm sure there is "good smokey" and not-so-good smokey. I'd probably take such a bar as you described over one that was just bland. For me, it's how it tastes at about the 75% level. At 50% of below, you can disguise a lot.


updated by @Keith Ayoob: 06/12/15 05:23:20AM
Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
05/09/13 12:52:31PM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I think I tried chocolate covered bees when I was in high school, about a hundred years ago. Friends actually held me down on the floor and forced it on me. They're dried and granulated, so you could not detect any bees per se or even individual bee parts, only the knowledge of them andthe crunch that comes with granules of any kind. I didn't know much about chocolate then, so it was probably run of the mill quality. People do eat with their eyes and their heads however, so the thought was enough to cause me to not want it again. There are so many ingredients people have added to chocolate, I have to ask myself the point. More specifically, what doyou (the chocolatier) wish to get out of the combination with chocolate? If it's just to sensationalize the end product, fugettabout it, in my book. (The poop thing comes to mind here.) If to produce a real flavor sensation, terrific.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
05/08/13 03:19:06PM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

OK, please tell me they dry it out and compost it first. Please. Of course, if it's composted and dried out, and they only add a tiny bit, it may be relatively harmless (although I still wouldn't recommend eating it). I know that when people speak of eating "alternative protein sources" such as termites, roaches, etc. these are often dried and ground into a course meal texture, so you really don't recognize the original ingredient. I'm adventurous, but poop is where I'd really draw the line, even if it's been autoclaved.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
02/28/12 05:12:52PM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

OK, the breast milk thing takes the cake. There was a chef in Brooklyn, I think, that was written about maybe last year or so, who used the extra breast milk his wife produced to make cheese, ice cream, etc. and served it in his cafe/restaurant until he was stopped. I thought donating it would have made more sense. Combining it with pralines and chocolate? No -- although I think there's at least enough material to do some stand-up comedy with the idea.

I didrecently have a taste of a John Kelly habanero & jalapeno truffle fudge bar. Much more heat than the usual ancho/chipotle mix that is used by some chocolatiers. It doesn't hit immediately, but when it does, it's definitely not for the faint of heart.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
12/01/11 11:31:45AM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I recently tried dark (about 60% I think) with rose water essence. I liked it but my other half didn't. He doesn't like rose essence anyway -- says it tastes like soap. While I did like it, it's not one I'd want every day, the way I like good plain, dark every day.

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
11/07/11 01:48:16PM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

2 questions:

1) Where can you find the Artisan's buffalo milk chocolate and

2) When pairing cheese and chocolate (OK, maybe a stupid question, but I really don't know this) do you taste them together or separate, and if the latter, which goes first?

Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
11/02/11 10:44:29AM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

I googled "biltong" and found it was a type of cured meat. This kind of makes sense that it would be good, as the whole salty-sweet thing is very popular now (salted caramel with chocolate, bacon bits on chocolate, etc.).
Keith Ayoob
@Keith Ayoob
10/17/11 11:39:14AM
39 posts

Weird Flavors and Inclusions in Chocolate


Posted in: Tasting Notes

Hmm...I'll be in SF this coming weekend and I'll look for the Zotter. The weirdest flavor for me was truffles in ganache. I think it was Oriol Balaguer but I got it in that shop on Park Ave and about 58th street about a year ago. It was vile. Expensive and vile, and I'm pretty adventurous. I did like the olive oil/gray salt thing by Xocolatl (sp?) and I didn't expect to. This stuff is really getting expensive when you open it all up and there's basically a single portion (~50 gm or so) inside. When it's great I don't mind at all. When it isn't (as with the truffle chocolate) it bites.
updated by @Keith Ayoob: 06/21/15 05:19:52AM