|From Wikipedia - yay, Creative Commons!|
The state of chocolate in Taiwan - nay, most of Asia - is a sad thing indeed.
I'm not really talking about the crappy local chocolate - I don't bother with most chocolate cakes (there are a few exceptions), those waxy-brown gold foil chocolate ingots or the cheaper candy bars.
I'm not talking about the fairly good - although in my opinion still not quite up to European standard, but still good - local artisanal chocolate by companies like Awfully Chocolate and Black as Chocolate (I happen to think Black as Chocolate is slightly better, but that's just me).
Which, by the way, there are still plenty of good sweets to be found in Taipei. I always suggest a visit to Red on Tree, the purveyor of the amazing desserts available at Caffe Libero.
I'm not even talking about the locally made chocolate that's meant to be good but isn't really - think "chocolate cafes" like Chocozing (which I believe as closed) where what you get really isn't as good as what you were hoping for (their "rich dark hot chocolate" is about as rich and dark as I would expect from a standard hot chocolate. I do not drink crap from a packet).
I'm talking mostly about imported, "should be good" chocolate that's just terrible, because whoever imports it doesn't know what the **** they're doing.
Picture the scene: you go to Dean&Deluca in the basement of Breeze Center on Fuxing N. Road. You're surrounded by interesting chocolates from great places - European chocolate, good chocolate from Africa and South America, chocolates with different fillings and flavors. You spend not a small amount of money to buy a small selection (2-3 small items could easily run you NT$400). You get home. You greedily open your chocolate, mouth watering...
...and it's covered in frosty white stuff. It's still "good to eat", as in it won't kill you, but the flavor's not quite right and the texture is all kinds of funked up.
Or you buy a box or selection of Lindt truffles at City Super, only to get home and realize that some of them have melted slightly and then reconstituted themselves, so while they taste generally fine, they're a bit grainier and waxier than you're used to from a generally good company with a wide distribution and otherwise adequate QA like Lindt.
Or you pick up an interesting treat for Christmas - say one of those pieced-out chocolate bars with nugget-like pieces filled with whiskey or liqueur. They're too sweet as it is (they definitely add sugar to the alcohol - a whiskey chocolate bar shouldn't be that sweet), but the one you got has been on the shelf far too long and tastes...fine...but only fine. Not sublime.
Or you buy a bag of basic chocolate chips for cookies, muffins, truffles or cupcakes. Those too are covered in white film. Fortunately, baking fixes this problem and you can still use them without worry, but it shouldn't be that way: I understand that the occasional bag or bar will get the white film, but in Taiwan it's like every single chocolate item you buy has it, at least if it's imported.
Seriously, who is in charge of this? I'd like to punch their lights out. What kind of subpar storage or shipping facilities do they use? Or is it stores, who don't know how to properly display and sell chocolate? What is it? Why the travesty? Why the heartache?
Why not just do it right?
For the prices stores charge for good chocolate, you'd think they could afford quality shipping and storage for imported items.
Why do I have to say a little prayer every time I open a bag or bar or unwrap a truffle, hoping that this time, it won't be screwed up?
Oh well. If you'll excuse me, I'll be at Black as Chocolate or Red on Tree at Caffe Libero.