Sunday, February 1, 2009

Richart, Ginza

My friends, the whole editorial team here at EOITwJ has been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of eating we've been doing, as well as the precarious nature of the world economy and its follow-on effects for our earning and saving potential. As a result we're on a self-imposed vegetarian, no-alcohol, no restaurants kick for a few days (2!). Nothing but lentils, spinach and cabbage. Well, almost nothing.

Fortunately, chocolate is vegetarian, or at least I don't know about the meat in it. That means the lovely little chocolates from Richart that I've been thinking of trying for several weeks now are quite acceptably on the menu. And when they showed up unannounced at my door on Friday...well, it would have been impolite not to invite them in and eat them. In keeping with house policy of reporting on expensive chocolates along with food, here we go...

These are beautiful, aren't they? I love the look (silk-screened cocoa butter), and I love the aesthetic. Each one is a dark chocolate shell filled with a ganache or praline, and they only come in flavor-themed collections. This is the, er... Green collection. No, it's actually not - it's Les Herbaces, the Herbals (sorry about the missing accent). Other collections include Spice, Floral and Balsamic, as well as the more traditional Fruit, Citrus, and Grilled (nuts). Herbal probably would have been my first choice (because it sounds weirdest), so I'm pleased that that's what eventuated.

The shells were quite fresh. I assume they were delivered from Paris, but Richart seems to be very picky about freshness - one of the products on display in the store is an $800 set that includes one of each flavor collection plus a customized humidor to store them in. I suppose the humidor is reusable, but how long do you really want to keep these things around? The fillings were also fresh, clearly better than the Theobroma chocolates from a few weeks ago.

For the record (and excessive completeness), Herbal includes Jasmine Tea, Green Tea, Thyme, Anis & Fennel, Basil, Rosemary and Herb Bouqet. Jasmine Tea was weak, Green Tea was artificial matcha-tasting, and Herb Bouqet was dull. Basil was decent but tasted too much like dried basil (maybe it's not possible to make them from fresh?). Anis and Fennel was delicious, and Rosemary was wonderful - these are things that should go with chocolate more often.

You won't understand the size until you see them in person - the photo is fully macro-ed, but the real things are cubes of about only 15mm. If I could buy a whole box of A&F and/or Rosemary (which you can't), and the price was a lot, LOT lower, I would love these. But at Y55 per gram, they're almost 3 times as expensive as the jou-est wagyu I've ever seen (that's Kobe beef, Mr. America). I'd still like to try Oriol Balaguer for completeness, but I don't see the value equation in high-end chocolate. Pastry, sure! Chocolate, no.

Emphasis on the Richart...

Some final, self-serving, and unnecessary notes unrelated to eating out in Tokyo:

If we're on speaking terms, I'm sure I've already regaled you with this, but the saag paneer I made from the lovely and entertaining Mallika's recipe (except with fresh spinach, thank you) was revelatory, for me at least. Who knew saag paneer could taste like spinach? Certainly I've never had such a thing in a restaurant.

As for the paneer, observant readers may be wondering where I got it. Paneer is a truly wonderful thing when cooked properly, and I've spent years in Tokyo wondering where to get it. Restaurant experiences have been mediocre, and the Indian groceries I've visited haven't had any. Well, the search is over, and I have found an excellent source. It's in my kitchen. A batch of fresh paneer takes all of 30 minutes to make, and is fun too. Next step - cheddar?!

1 comment:

  1. Richart's chocolates are among my favorites - the flavors are so fresh and vibrant.

    However, on my Tokyo trip, I discovered Le Chocolat de H in Roppongi Hills - *those* are the best chocolates I've ever tasted.