|The source of Micah's smile? I'm guessing it's his magical chocolates.|
|I'd have eaten the whole tray if I wasn't in civilized company.|
OK: I already knew a thing or two about chocolate. Mostly, that I like the way it tastes. In France, there is no shortage of dark chocolate for vegans to indulge in, so I do it regularly (as in every single day). And with the opening of Un Monde Vegan, I even have access to white chocolate, and non-dairy-milk chocolate. C'est magnifique. But I digress.
Last month I was invited to attend a chocolate-making class by a visiting American and fellow vegan who would be teaching three workshops in Europe. Two of them happened to be in Paris, and while I didn't have a specific story in mind for this experience, I figured I'd come up with something. (I eventually did.)
|One of a few "super" ingredients that give these chocolates that|
extra special something.
|It's hard to let go when the chocolate tastes this good.|
|Micah and fellow raw chocalatier Frederic Marr turn on the handsome, |
just like that.
On a balmy July afternoon I cycled across town to ChocoLatitudes, a new-to-me chocolate boutique on a quiet street tucked between Montparnasse Tower and Montparnasse cemetery. I arrived just in time for introductions; there were approximately 10 of us, an equal mix of Anglophones, Francophones, and one Italian to round things out. Initially, I sat myself at the back, thinking that since I was here to observe and report, I wouldn't need to be in the thick of the action. Laurence, ChocoLatitudes' owner, thought otherwise, and positioned me in a front-row-center sort of spot, with awesome views of the chocolate yumminess and the choco-maestro himself, Micah Intrator.
|Enter ChocoLatitudes if you dare to be tempted by chocoholicism.|
|One of many vegan treats that await at ChocoLatitudes.|
|Laurence, fellow vegan and ChocoLatitudes' lovely owner.|
Micah began dabbling in chocolate-making several years ago, mostly as an experiment. He wanted to package all the goodness of the superfood smoothies he made for himself each morning into a compact, portable form that would allow him easy access to sustained energy throughout the day. Turns out chocolate was the perfect vehicle. Today, he makes exquisite confections and sells them at artisan shops in and around his hometown of Chapel Hill, NC.
|I won't stop staring until you let us taste.|
|How long until those are ready?|
Throughout the two-hour class, Micah tutored us in the fine art of chocolatiering, making it look easy, fun, and kinda cool--in spite of the goji berries. Using interesting and unfamiliar (to me) ingredients such as maca, mesquite, and lucuma, he created some of the best-tasting stuff I've ever had the joy of devouring. As a "reporter," I hadn't anticipated active participation, but all professionalism fell by the wayside when the samples started making their way around the room.
With the first taste, I morphed into ChocoMonster. Hadn''t Neal Barnard written in one of his books that chocolate (like cheese) has opioid properties that mimic the same intoxicating feeling you get from heroin? This chocolate was so intense I could practically feel the opioids rolling around in my mouth. Especially in the Chocolate Caramel Crunch bars. Heaven on a stick. (Without the stick.)
|The Italian contingency sampling the secret ingredients.|
Stepping out into the street after the workshop, I had the sensation of soaring on a chocolate-covered cloud--one from which I hoped never to descend. I finally did, though, hours later. And since then, I've been dreaming about those chocolates, and remembering that chocolate high with a bittersweetness matched only by the dark, chocolately goodness of those magical confections.