When you take a bite of one of Laurent Gerbaud’s chocolates you notice a progression of flavors in your mouth. First the chocolate, creamy and dark, from cocoa beans cultivated and collected for their intense flavors from Madagascar and Ecuador. Then the subtleties of the flavors emerge – fruity, nutty, sweet. But wait. Gerbaud is known for using the smallest amount of sugar possible to keep the chocolate stable.
After a stint in China, Gerbaud, who comes from a family of pastry chefs, found he had lost his sweet tooth. He began experimenting with the old Belgian chocolate recipe to find a recipe using no sugar, which allowed the true flavors of the cocoa to come through. The shelf life of such a product is extremely short, however, so he worked with a food scientist to find a balance of stability and simplicity, and the result is a line of chocolates with intense flavors matched perfectly with nuts, fruits, and spices.
During our tasting we sampled chocolates with ginger (very popular with the ladies, Laurent assured us), a type of fig from Ismir that is harvested in small batches of 2000 and dried and used in the same year, Zerach (a berry from Iran), and black pepper. My favorite was the Piemontese – hazelnut and cashew.
Age: All ages
Admission: free to enter, chocolate prices vary
Group tastings can be arranged by [email protected] Minimum 10 and maximum 15 people. Cost: starting at 20 euro per person for the basic workshop, additional cost for wine pairing or special focus
Hours: Boutique: Monday – Sunday 10:30 am to 7:30 pm; Atelier: Monday – Friday 9 am to 6 pm.
Getting There: Rue Ravenstein 2D, Brussels 1000. Metro: Central Station
If you are still hungry after your chocolate tasting, you have several options nearby. For a fantastic view of the city from a stunning art deco building, head around the corner to the top-floor café at the Museum of Musical Instruments (MIM). Just have a coffee or quick snack there; the meals are pricey and not the best in the area. The nearby Ciabatta Mania offers fresh juices and sandwiches in a comfortable setting.