Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pistachio in My Moustachio

In Italy, I ate many pistachio desserts: an incredible pistachio cannoli in Milan, pistachio gelato in multiple cities and a tourist trap cookie in Venice. But the best (somehow surpassing the cannoli) was Cioccolato al Latte Bianco con Pistacchio, a white chocolate bar by the Tuscan chocolate maker Amedei.

I first heard about Amedei from Lauren, the owner of Seattle’s Chocolopolis, who told me that many chocolate aficionados consider Amedei to be the finest chocolate maker in the world. This reputation equates to expensive chocolate. (How expensive? Let’s just say two bars cost more than my train ticket from Florence to Cinque Terre.) While Amedei is a small company in Tuscany, their products can be found in fine chocolate stores in other parts of the world. Yes, the price will cause you to do the math and determine the cost of each individual square. But don’t be deterred! Buy it, then have a seat, eliminate distractions, unwrap the chocolate, inhale its scent, take a bite, let it sit on your tongue and experience the glory of fine chocolate. You will quickly learn that one of these chocolate bars can be (and should) amount to several servings due to its high impact flavor. Amedei is a must try for dark chocolate lovers.

Lucky for me, I had experienced the euphoria that is Amedei once before my trip to Italy. Because of this, I allowed myself to purchase one of their products that wasn’t their famed solid chocolate. Having never seen pistachio offered in any candy before, it was a quick and easy decision. So excited about the prospects of pistachios in chocolate, I completely overlooked the word “bianco” (“white”) on the package. In fact, you may have already dismissed this bar upon hearing the words “white chocolate,” a candy racism I, too, once subscribed to. (Some are not even convinced because white chocolate is only chocolate by name. By definition, it is cocoa butter extracted from the cocoa bean.) But listen, brothers and sisters! From first bite, I knew it was one of the best pieces of candy I had ever been witness to. The white chocolate used here provides the perfect creaminess to compliment the subtle pistachio flavor. The amount of sugar added to the white chocolate is just enough to equal the saltiness of the featured nut. And crafted with pistachio in mind, white chocolate is never the dominant flavor.

It’s not often a person can call a dessert life-changing or say that they have learned a valuable lesson by eating it. But Amedei’s Cioccolato al Latte Bianco con Pistacchio has done just that: This bar has helped me see the error in rejecting a chocolate based on its color. And to any naysayers pooh poohing my words, maybe it can do the same for you.

Next time: An expert explains chocolate!

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