Monday, March 15, 2010

When Chocolate becomes something more – zChocolat

France is famous for its cuisine, wines and Chateaux and also as one of the finest makers of chocolates. French chocolate has absolutely no equivalent and as they say once tried never forgotten. Thankfully with zChocolat, you no longer have to travel all the way to France to experience the world's best chocolate. Packaged in a luxurious Sapelli wooden box, decorated with a gold engraved plaque and beautifully designed labels, you'll find a delectable assortment of the finest quality French chocolates.

zChocolat was started in 2000 by husband and wife team, Jean-Philippe and Valérie, who saw the opportunity the internet provided to share their love for high quality, hand-made French chocolates with the world. Seeking out the top regional French chocolatier, they have created chocolate unlike any you ever tasted before. The French believe that chocolate shouldn't be about sugar and fat, but instead made with the finest pure cocoa and other quality ingredients that allow more of the natural chocolate flavour to come through. This means that the chocolate you get from zChocolat will be unlike any chocolate you have ever had. is presented in mostly black with many graphic aspects, with a menu bar in a deep, chocolatey brown with the occasion hint of gold. Over all it is very subdued but at the same time portrays utter elegance and luxury. Selection offers chocolates packaged in ballotins, in which you can hand-select each chocolate included, elegant boxes hand crafted of Sapelli wood in Provence, and large luxury boxes. The collection of chocolates that zChocolat offers is huge, but they range from a teaser four piece taster box to an impressive four hundred piece extravaganza of chocolate.

There are a few basic categories of products with many choices in each. Tasters boxes, Minis and Survival Packs: These three are generally the least expensive options for chocolate. The Taster’s boxes and Minis come with only four chocolates in a fine Sapelli wood box and as such make for good party favours or as a “test” order to see if zChocolat’s are worth the premium they command (they are). You can order Minis in large quantities if you want. The survival pack (a fairly new addition) is more like a traditional “box” of chocolates, except that inside you will find an assortment of fine French chocolate and other treats. Signature and Deluxe Signature Series Boxes: These boxes are the capstone of the zChocolat experience. Each Sapelli wood box is filled with a number of different zChocolats. The deluxe series boxes are designed specially to accept refills. These boxes make quite a statement! Refills: Refills fit the Deluxe Signature series boxes. One refill fits in a single drawer inside the box. Refills are cheaper since you don’t need the expensive wood box.

Flavors ZChocolat’s are hand made by the finest French artisan chocolatier Pascal Caffet. Pascal Caffet is a serious chocolate man, having won numerous awards and credits for his work. The site actually offers a brief biography on Pascal Caffet, his work and his life. At zChocolate you will not find every flavour you can imagine and then some. However, what you will find are thoughtful, classic, rich flavours with a few unexpected twists thrown in to tantalise the pallet. zChocolat offers 15 differing chocolates, most of which are nutty, but there are also a few ganache or caramel based fillings as well. Service Immediately after placing my order I received an e-mail from zChocolat confirming that they had received my order. I got another e-mail when my order shipped. Included in the messages were links to track my order and to double-check it as well. zChocolat prides itself in its 3 day delivery service from France, but I being in Australia was expecting a longer delivery time – I was wrong. Exactly 3 days after the order was placed I received the chocolates. The chocolates arrived in silver coolant travel box. Upon opening the box a beautiful lavender scent filled the room. The scent came from a small green bag full of Provence Lavender packed with the chocolates.

Upon removing the lavender bag I discovered a fabric bag contain the chocolate box. With a small pocket on the front of the bag was a personalised card and a small brochure detailing the chocolates that lay within. Upon opening the bag I found the chocolates wrapped in gold paper with a white silken ribbon tied with a gold wax seal.

Under the wrapping lay my particular chocolate box – the Orpheon. The box itself is a beautiful French handmade Sapelli wood box with an ornate zChocolat logo on the top and as well as a quality seal and on one side an etching of a Parisian street scene. Also, a small gold plaque etched with my name – very personal and oh so luxurious.

I removed the side panel of my box, having to break the quality seal, in which revealed three delicate drawers filled with 45 delicate chocolates – the aroma was overwhelming. After opening the drawers and revealing them from their refillable paper boxes I found they had arrived in absolutely perfect condition with no signs of spoilage or that horrid white stuff on the chocolate.

…and the taste! Wonderful!

These were truly the best chocolates I’ve ever eaten though. Smooth, rich, chocolate unspoiled by the cloying sweetness that is so common in American candies. Textured, complex fillings with hints of nut, spice, fruit, and more. Each of the forty five was a delight to savor, for these are not to be gulped down, but slowly nibbled, rolling each bite around in your mouth. The Verdict Does CoutureLiving recommend Absolutely yes! For the chocolate lovers in your life you will not find a more satisfying, luxuriant gift. The packaging, product, and service all ooze classiness.

zChocolat is quality. zChocolat is exceptional customer service. zChocolat is delicious.