Note: This interview was original published on 9-30-16 on my Dark Matters Fine Chocolate Reviews blogspot site.
Richard Tango-Lowy, Dancing Lion Chocolate
Today I am so pleased to bring you this interview with Richard Tango-Lowy, a physicist turned chocolatier, who is the owner, and master chocolatier of Dancing Lion Chocolate. Richard also teaches the Mastering Chocolate Flavor course with Ecole Chocolat. (I learned so much from him when I recently took the course). Oh, and did I mention he was named one of the top 10 chocolatiers in America by Dessert Professional magazine in 2016. Congrats Richard!!!
Richard Tango-Lowy: I didn’t really understand tempering until I came across the phase diagram for chocolate and began to comprehend what was happening at a molecular level. The crystalline behavior of cocoa butter is *incredibly* complex, and tempering is rather mystical until you understand it.
RTL: When I temper by hand, I can easily control the number and size of crystals I’m forming, which impacts how the chocolate will develop in your mouth. Given the physics “law of conservation of energy,” your mouth must expend the same amount of energy to break down the crytalline matrix as I put in when I create it (by tempering).
RTL: I think it’s most interesting that people figured out how to make chocolate at all. Wine’s easier–grapes fermented and the result tasted good. Chocolate requires fermentation, drying, shelling, and grinding; a much more complex process.
RTL: They got it *all* right, although it really began with the Olmecs. The Mayans, however, actively and seriously developed the strains of cacao traded up from Ecuador and Peru into we the spectacular varieties we now know as the “criollos.” They were a sophisticated people. The Spanish considered the xocoatl they experienced to be bitter, but I wonder if that was more a matter of taste norms. I’ve tasted plenty of criollo cacao that wasn’t bitter at all.
VC: What are the top 3 things you look for when picking out a source for the chocolate you’d like to work with?
VC: When designing a new chocolate creation how do you start the process of which flavors to include in the bar, or bonbon?
VC: Is there a country of origin, or a type of cacao bean that you would consider to be the most approachable to someone just getting into buying, and tasting fine chocolate? Why is that?
VC: What tasting exercises would you recommend for consumers to practice in order to improve their tasting palate?
VC: Is it possible to pair chocolate with sparking wine? If so, do you have any pairing recommendations with certain types of sparkling wine, and chocolate varieties? What is your favorite chocolate pairing with a beverage, or food?
VC: Once a consumer gets a fine chocolate bar home what is the best way for them to store it if they don’t eat it right away?
VC: What is the strangest flavor you’ve ever tasted in chocolate?
VC: Other then your own, what chocolate do you like to eat?
Thank you Richard Tango-Lowy for this interview!
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