There’s a spunky lady over at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, where I spent a few years digging a hole in my wallet getting a higher degree.
She is the famous fine-foods purveyor’s resident “Chocolate Lady.” To most, she’s known as “Duff.” Despite her easy-going personality, Duff is an intense chocolate taster. Her job requires it. She nibbles her away across the world by the bar, bon bon, and ballotine.
Duff has a talent for scouting out the finest and most novel cocoa creations in the world. We both agree that though excellent, a familiar and otherwise straightforward-tasting bar of chocolate, is boring next the many fascinating flavor profiles out there. It was through our mutual fascination with and love of chocolate that we first met.
Now that I’m not longer in Ann Arbor, sadly, we correspond infrequently. Our messages, usually sent via the ether, are sporadic, pithy,and taut summaries of our most recent chocolate-eating experiences.
Among the many holiday packages and purchases I received was an unassuming little packet from Duff. Inside was an entire letter from her and her husband about their 2007. And, faithfully, after all the latest life news was a short, hand-written message rounding up some of Duff’s recent chocolate exploits.
Along with the letter came a bag of my favorite soft licorice candies from RJ’s in the kiwi islands of New Zealand (the *real* stuff that actually tastes like licorice), and two chocolate bars.
The enclosed Malagasy “Mora Mora,” a 73% bar has a creamy, milky tenor and and almost light on the tongue. It has a dry roasted peanut flavor with cherry wood overtones, yet, has an inexplicable natural fruity and grassy sweetness devoid of saccharine. Not straigtforward in the least, I can certainly see why this unique chocolate was awarded the World Chocolate silver medal by the Academy of Chocolate in 2007.
Also inside the package was a coveted bar of Pralus. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I haven’t yet gotten any further than the festive turquoise wrapper annoucing a 75% cocao bar from Cuba. I look forward to sending Duff my short two-liner about this bar in a week.
The next time you happen by Zingerman’s, first, sit yourself down with a bowl of chopped liver and a matzoh ball the size of your fist. Then, go over to the gelato counter and ask for a double dip of their “Chocolate Heat.” And, don’t leave without giving a shout out to my favorite Chocolate Lady, Duff. Thanks Duff, for the holiday noshers!