“If it is good for your palate, it cannot be bad for your soul.” – Bonnat Chocolatier’s motto since 1884! Now that’s a motto I can fully embrace!
I first heard about Bonnat through Chloé Doutre-Roussel’s 2005 book entitled “The Chocolate Connoisseur” and it has taken me a decade to finally try this chocolate for myself! Was Bonnat the forefather of the single-origin & single-estate concepts? It certainly seems so; since in 1902, Bonnat’s first dark chocolate bars were made with beans from specific countries (Venezuela and Madagascar) and they were the first to propose a range of 75% cacao bars, each made with beans from a specific country. In 1983, they also introduced a single-estate bar, which has since been adopted by others.
The rare, coveted and expensive Porcelana is the purest form of the Criollo bean (one of the three main types of beans in the world) and grows in an ancestral planation located South of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. Immature Porcelana cacao pods are said to be pale, translucent, smooth and enamel-like in color and the unripe beans are also pure white. Here is a link to an article with photos of the pod & bean: http://www.somachocolate.com/blogs/news/18222553-porcelana-finally-after-a-decade-of-waiting
As you may have noticed, in addition to learning about different chocolates, I wanted this project to be an opportunity to delve into details that might otherwise be overlooked. One thing usually leads to another & it is easy to lose track of time, falling through the “rabbit hole” of research. Today I was able to satisfy my curiosity on most things, but some remain elusive mysteries…like this coat of arms:
The top reminds me of a rook chess piece or castle wall, there is also a deer-like animal featured with what appear to be two gold rings on the shield surrounded by a wreath of leaves. Hopefully further research will answer the burning questions I still have and provide a back story to the family’s history.
What I did learn was that the Bonnat family comes from a long line of liqueur makers, confectioners and pastry chefs (ancient professions working with sugar and plants). Being unfamiliar with Latin, I was curious about “vis mea in labore” and didn’t really trust Google’s “my business is in trouble” translation…so I turned to a couple of my friends for their assistance. It seems that the translation is closer to “my strength in effort” or “my strength is in work.” Since chocolate making is very much an art, it makes sense that their coat of arms motto would refer to the labor needed in their craft.
Unwrapping the bar from the shiny inner silver foil you see 32 nearly perfect rectangles and the imprinted logo where the center 4 rectangles would have been. “Voiron” caught my eye as an unfamiliar name/term. A Google Maps search led me to a 2012 photo of Ėglise Saint-Bruno de Voiron – a cathedral built in 1864-1873 that just happens to be 0.1 miles away from the Bonnat Chocolatier shop in the village of Cours Senozan in France. I can only imagine what it must be like to daily see the gorgeous gothic architectural gem that is featured at the top left corner of each bar’s outer wrapper.
There was a delicate aroma along with the uniform visual appearance. Separating the rectangles from each other produced a nice snap. Overall the mouthfeel was silky, buttery and smooth probably due to the cocoa butter that was used. Initially, there were earthy and almost coffee-like flavors (maybe based on how the beans were roasted?) Secondarily, there was a subtle fruity, but not overly sweet taste. Despite all these positives, I was a little underwhelmed by the hype of the Porcelana bar and feel guilty, thinking that I should like this more than I did.
As the outer wrapper says, these chocolates are “to be enjoyed” – so follow me on Instagram as I sample seven other Bonnat flavors over the next few weeks (or maybe months?)
To learn more, check out: http://bonnat-chocolatier.com/en