You have not lived until you have tasted real chocolate. I’m not talking about the candy bar variety you get at the stores. Those are nice to eat in their own way – if you like to eat chocolate bars made of sugar, vegetable oil and chocolate substitutes.
No, I am talking about chocolate truffles that are made of cocoa butter, chocolate ganache and dipped in cocoa powder chocolate shell. Handmade and done fresh too.
I recently visited Truffs, a ‘chocolate atelier’, tucked away in Telok Ayer Street. It’s the place that makes these little heavenly morsels. I suppose it is called an atelier because making truffles is machiam like French art.
I have to admit I was apprehensive. I mean, their shop is called an atelier leh! I was afraid I would be revealed as a total chocolate ignoramus instead of the connoisseur I should be. I had no idea what tasting high-end chocolate truffles would entail. Would I need to take a bite, chew a little, gargle and spit it out, and then declare that 1979 was a great year for Honduran cocoa beans?
Fortunately it was all rather easy and pleasant. It was only a matter of a) try a truffle b) say "Wah, nice!" c) try another truffle.
I spent a pleasant afternoon at Truffs, drinking their coffee, trying all their truffles and even their lovely ganache-filled chocolate cake, while chatting with Huiying and Indra, the two lovely ladies who make these chocolate treats. The owner's name is Ei Liang, who has a day job as a hotelier and is a chocolatier by night (not a bad life eh?).
They serve mainly three kinds of truffles: a 55 percent one made with chocolate from the Equator, a 66 percent one made of cocoa beans from the Caribbean, and my favourite, the 70 percent one made of cocoa beans from the Criollos and Trinitarios trees, said to be the best cocoa beans in the world (no, I don't know how to pronounce the names of the trees either).
You may find the 55 percent équateur to your liking if you like 'em sweet. The 70 percent honduras truffle has more chocolate taste, and less sweetness, which suits me fine because I have less of a sweet tooth these days and I really like the taste of dark chocolate.
They also make a mean chocolate cake. It is soft, moist and sinful but by then I had thrown all care and caution to the wind, Diet Be Damned.
I think I may have taken too much coffee and chocolate because I was buzzing with energy and caffeine for the rest of the day. I am already a ball of energy in the afternoons (I am a night owl) so my levels were off the charts by the time I left Truffs. Good thing I cycled back to the office. The exercise helped get some of that buzz off.
One of the challenging things I faced was getting my box of truffles back unmangled. I couldn't strap it down to the rack with bungie cords for fear of crushing them. And this bike had no basket (too girly for me).
I knew that my wife would kill me if I got home with crushed truffles.
"Oh these are the newer kind of chocolate truffles, darling! Very in these days! Truffles Penyet!" I imagined myself saying to her.
I also did not want to dilute the legendary reputation that chocolate has as an aphrodisiac by making my wife angry with my carelessness. So I carefully tied the paperbag holding the box of truffles to my bicycle bag with Velcro straps before setting off.
Back at the office, I reluctantly shared two truffles with my mates. You have to understand – it's $24 for a box of nine pieces. But hey, good stuff must share (also, in the interest of full disclosure, I got this box for free, as review samples lah).
I have to say I admire Huiying and Indra for having the patience to do these truffles. It's not like you can make them in one day. It takes several days to handmake them. And if a truffle is not dipped evenly, it is rejected. "Cannot even have a hole in the coating," the ladies told me.
I think we should have more food that takes heart to make. For instance, it is hard to find fishball noodles that are not made by factory machines any more. Maybe my favourite handmade fishball mee place in Eunos Crescent should call themselves Fishball Atelier too. Then you can buy fishballs with different percentages of fish in them. And even different fish from different oceans.
But then my bowl of noodles won't cost $3 a bowl anymore. Ah well.
mrbrown aka Mr Kin Mun LEE is the accidental author of the popular Singapore website, mrbrown.com, and has been documenting the dysfunctional side of Singapore life since 1997.
Affectionately known as the Blogfather of Singapore, his readers follow his writings closely, which these days range from current affairs, his family, and even his trips abroad.
Currently, mrbrown also hosts the mrbrown show (mrbrownshow.com), probably Singapore's best known comedy and satire podcast.
mrbrown is married to Ginny, his long-suffering wife for 12 years, and is father to three lovely kids, Faith, Isaac and Joy.