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In Which We Are Forced To Taste
All Kinds Of Chocolate

We really had no idea that chocolate could be seasonal. After all, will a truffle taste different in June than it does in January? Would a loved one take offense if presented with spring's ganache at the end of the Summer? Could our waistline stand to find out the answers to these burning questions?

The real question is could The Shophound possibly refuse an invitation from La Maison du Chocolat to sample their Summer collection at their Madison Avenue store? In case you are still wondering, we would probably accept an invitation from them to sample a crumb, so we made sure we were first in line yesterday afternoon to taste the famed chocolatier's latest.

MacaronsLMdC First we started with a taste of the Salvador Raspberry Mousse Cake. One of the company's first creations, it is hard not to resist the dark chocolate and raspberry confection, but this was just the beginning. Next up was the Macaron Sylvia (pictured at right). It seems pretty clear that Parisian style macarons are the new cupcakes (a huge step up) and this cocoa and milk chocolate version would be a worthy contender with its honey tinged ganache center.

We were already sort of reeling at this point when we were faced with the centerpiece of the offerings. A collection of five specially flavored chocolates named "Chiberta", after the Basque town that gave us Robert Linxe, the founder of La Maison du Chocolate. They are meant to be consumed in sequence like a flight of wine, and available only until Labor Day. Had we already indulged too much to take on five more pieces of chocolate? Probably, but it would have been horribly rude to beg off at this point, right?

First off was Etizia, a rich milk chocolate ganache with more delicate honey notes. Next came Txokolate Iluna, a can't-miss classic, smoky dark chocolate ganache. Forcing ourselves forward, we came to Praliné Macaron filled with almond praline and bits of dark chocolate macarons. Next came Almond Paste with Patxaran liqueur covered in dark chocolate, and finally, we came to Espeletako Piperra, an unexpected combination of dark chocolate ganache and bright red peppers.

At this point it seemed impossible to go further, but then we would have missed the pink Champagne. When we finally felt it was time to go, a voice called us back. The ice cream was coming out in just seconds, and who would want to miss that? Five choices were offered including Strawberry and Raspberry sorbets and ice cream in Pistachio and, of course, Chocolate, but we went with the ever so subtly salty Caramel. In the end, we couldn't have been more sated if we had been locked in the Wonka factory for a weekend, but in the event that we felt a bit peckish later, we were given a pair of cocoa covered truffles and a couple of those sumptuous macarons to take home.

Ultimately, we still hadn't gotten an answer to our question, but we didn't mind so much. It turns out that chocolate is good. All. The. Time.

La Maison du Chocolat 1018 Madison Avenue at East 78th Street, Upper East Side


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