Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Amatller Chocolate a la Taza


I had been meaning to post this for this month’s round of Sugar High Friday, a blogging event in celebration of sweets started by the Domestic Goddess. This month’s host is the esteemed David Lebovitz and the theme he has chosen is Chocolate…by brand. Food bloggers were invited to make something with chocolate (but of course!) and talk about the brand used, and why it was chosen. There are many reasons to choose a certain brand of chocolate, but one of the reasons David mentions stood out for me: “…Or you bought your chocolate on a trip and were saving it for some special occasion…” Ah, yes. I did indeed own one such chocolate.

Unfortunately, I am late. Sigh…my brain must have been all fizzy when I read the instructions…especially the part about the deadline. Of course, I was not going to let a little tardiness keep me from enjoying a delicious hot drink made with a very special block of chocolate, bought during a very special trip. So here I am…with a luscious hot chocolate made with Amatller chocolate a la taza.

I came upon this little treasure on my honeymoon. We visited one of my absolute favorite cities in the world…Barcelona. Barcelona vibrates with a special beat and rhythm all its own…and it has a fair share of excellent chocolate. Although I already have my favorites, this new discovery was much welcomed. Here’s a little bit about this chocolate's provenance as taken from my previous post:

Casa Amatller is one of the three buildings that make up the famous “manzana de la discordia” (block of discord or apple of discord). The “manzana de la discordia” is made up of what is said to be the three finest modernist buildings in the entire city: Casa Batllo by Antoni Gaudi, Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and Casa Lleo-Morera by Lluis Domenech i Montaner. The three buildings can be found side by side on the Passeig de Gracia, each stunning façade competing for your attention (hence the discord). The building was bought in 1898 by chocolate industrialist Antoni Amatller, and you can buy their chocolates inside. Entranced by their gorgeous packaging, delicious looking offerings, and the girl at the register telling me my Spanish was very good, we happily purchased the following: Amatllons (which are what they call their catanies), more dark chocolate, and a block of chocolate for drinking (which is their own special blend with a touch of cinnamon). You can find them at Passeig de Gracia 41.

Casa Amatller (along with Casa Batllo and Casa Lleo-Morera) is magical. Its whimsical, almost fairy-tale like façade hosts many little creatures in nooks and crannies, all operating instruments used in the early days of chocolate making. So if you do see it, take time to really explore the detailing. Although the house itself is closed to the public, they still sell the Amatller chocolates on the ground floor. (I have heard rumors though that Casa Amatller will be opened and that a lot of the original furniture is still intact! That will definitely be something to see!)

As instructed, I melted 2 small blocks of the chocolate in 1 cup of milk that I had been heating on the hob. Then, in a fit of chocolate madness, I tossed another block in. At first glance it looked like regular breakfast chocolate, milky and not too dark. But as I took my first sip, and let its delicious-ness shimmy down my throat, I was totally won over. Not as thick as the hot chocolate made here or the classic ones you get in the old granjas, but it is rich nonetheless, perfectly suited to sipping, and kissed with just a wee bit of cinnamon (as the very amiable girl at the shop promised).


In line with it being a special occasion, what with me bringing out the little cache of honeymoon goodies, I decided to enjoy my chocolate in my new pot and cup set, a belated wedding present from one of my favorite cousins. Isn’t it adorable? The best part is it stacks up nicely and you can place it on display instead of storing it in your (already overflowing) cupboard. It’s made by a very talented local artist named Impy Pilapil who works with all kinds of media and has exhibited all over the world.

This may not have made it to this month’s SHF, but it definitely made for a cozy afternoon, where both the reminiscing and the chocolate exuded a special warmth. What more could one ask for? :)

28 comments:

angelika said...

Oh my God, what a beautiful china ! Joey, can you please tell me the brand, this is exactly what I have been looking for ... for my new kitchen and dining room, the colours would match perfectly, and the design is not run out of the mill at all.... Have a great day, and yes, chocolate is so good for sanity... Much love and hugs, angelika

angelika said...

Oh my God, what beautiful china ! Joey, could you please tell me the brand since this is exactly what I have been looking for... this would perfectly match my new kitchen and dining room furniture, and the design is not at all run out of the mill... Have a good chocolate day, angelika

angelika said...

sorry it's me again, and sorry for the confusion ... the first comment did not show up at first, so I rewrote it ... now you have got two and even three....
Another hug....

Shelly said...

LOVE your dishes! So cute!!!

oggi said...

That's a neat pot/cup design, very pretty. I was also planning to submit a cherry chocolate cupcakes recipe to David but was too busy and forgot the deadline.

Barbara said...

I want one.

Paz said...

Better late than never. Beautiful chocolate concoction, beautiful dish set, beautiful photos.

Paz

ChichaJo said...

Hi Angelika! Thanks for all the nice comments :) The more the merrier right? ;) I love the cup set too! It’s so unique and funky, and it puts a smile on my face when I use it. It's designed by a local artist called Impy Pilapil and her website is www(dot)impypilapil(dot)com. The brand of the set is Makopa Art Gifts Inc. (makopa is a common fruit here) I can’t find the china on her website though…but perhaps you can email them. Yes, chocolate is a cure-all!

Hi Shelly! Thanks! I’m quite smitten with them myself :)

Hi Oggi! I hear ya! Those cupcakes sound good though…are they like Nigella’s? And I hope you still post the recipe!

Hi Barbara! Heehee :) Charming huh? :)

Hi Paz! Thanks for all your nice words! Yes, it’s never too late for chocolate! :)

in-JeN-iosiTy said...

Such a shame this didn't make it to the SHF Chocolate by Brand. I've read soooo many entries and this should have been one of the nicest! Your post makes me wana grabe a cup of hot coco myself! ;P yummmmmm.... Maybe we can beg Mr. Lebovitz to bend the rules a bit? hahaha But as you said...its not a waste for you enjoyed your lovely chocolatey drink along with sweet nostalgia =)

Thank you for shring it with us!

Midge said...

The china is just plain gorgeous, Joey. Oh, and chocolate con canela ~ ! I'd offer you cannelles from JiPan to go with that; so soothing!

Ipshi said...

hey joey!! ur such a master with food and words that it amazes me... i just got some time today to read up ur blog and ironically my editor approached me to write an article about spanish cuisine :) .. guess i know one expert that im gonna refer to!!

Lera said...

Beautiful & colourful china! Joey I 'm gonna try out your Apple chutney, it's so irresistable:))will let you know ,how it turned out!

christine said...

Awwww it's super adorable! So perfect for those solitary (or not) moments of coffee/chai/hot chocolate indlugence. It's so pretty I almost forgot about what's inside. But only for a short while since you described it so deliciously I could almost taste it! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jen! Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a nice compliment :) I'll just pay more attention next SHF :) Ah yes, nothing that has to do with chocolate is ever wasted!

Hi Midge! Yes, I fell in love the moment I opened the package...ok, that's a lie...I had been eyeing it in the store a long time before that! Heehee :) Must get to Jipan soon!

Hi Ipshi! You are too sweet...thank you :) I can't say that I'm anywhere near an expert of Spanish cuisine, but I'll help in any way I can :)

Hi Lera! Thanks :) Yes, please let me know how it turns out...and if you want the original recipe let me know as well :)

Hi Nens! Yes, it's really cute no? I almost jumped on Ysy's lap when I got it! :) She is such a sweety! We must have some hot choco soon :)

Brilynn said...

That dish set is the coolest ever!

bea at la tartine gourmande said...

Better late than never! I love this idea! Such a cute orange on your china!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Brilynn! Heehee :) I am still so tickled everytime I look at it...my happy thought tea set :)

Hi Bea! Thanks :) Never too late for chocolate ;) Subconsciously or not, I actually have a lot of orange (and green) in our flat...and that's my blog's colors too! Total coincidence :)

Lori said...

Oh Joey, this is a post after my own heart. I love hot chocolate, you know. And that stackable cup/teapot ... I love it! How different is this hot chocolate from popular Spanish brand Valor (sold at Terry's?)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lori! I know...you are the queen of hot choco! :) I haven't tried Valor yet but I will grab some next time I'm at Terry's :) This one has a touch of cinnamon...I don't know if Valor does...

Linda said...

Delish! thanks so much for sharing!

love your blog! I'll be back soon!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Linda! Thanks for dropping by and for the nice comment :)

sha said...

am pretty much the same joey I buy chocolates on my trips not exactly knowing what am going to make out of them.... love the pot!!!!

sha said...

am pretty much the same joey I buy chocolates on my trips not exactly knowing what am going to make out of them.... love the pot!!!!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Sha! We have that in common! :) But I am sure we always manage with our loot, no? ;)

Matt said...

I also love the dish!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Matt...it is quite adorable, yes? :)

Anonymous said...

I'm from Barcelona, and I'm impressed by your vast knowledge about the city, its history, architecture and customs. You discovered the "granjas", which are just magic. I wish all tourists we have would appreciate our city as well as you did. Thank you!

ChichaJo said...

You lucky anonymous person you! :) Living in Barcelona would be a dream for me :) I love this city and have been there a few times...I have family there too...hence the knowledge I suppose :) But really, how can anyone not fall in love with Barcelona? :) It is history and art and passion and secrets and nooks and crannies filled with magic!