Take a Shelfie: Marou Chocolates
When we chanced upon the The New York Times’s flattering review of Marou, we promptly Googled the Vietnamese artisanal chocolate brand for more information. To our delight, we found that it’s available in Mumbai, at Foodhall in Lower Parel and the Grand Hyatt hotel in Santa Cruz East, thanks to Jaipur-based importer House of Mandara.
The name Marou is a portmanteau of the surnames of the two founders, Samuel Maruta, who’s French-Japanese, and Vincent Mourou, who’s French-American. The chocolate is produced in Ho Chi Minh City with beans grown in plantations in the south of Vietnam. As is du jour, the bars are single origin, which means that the beans are sourced from a single plantation in every region, and the entire process from the picking of the cacao to the wrapping is done by hand.
Marou only makes dark chocolate in percentages ranging from 70 to 80. Uniquely, their bars are unnamed. Instead, the labels display the name of the region from which the beans have been selected. This is because the topography of the farms lends the chocolates their distinctive flavour and aroma. We tried six of the eight variants available in India and each of them tasted different. Our picks from these are the full-bodied Tien Giang, a complex 70 per cent bar with a slowly unravelling sourness; the 76 per cent aromatic Ba Ria, with fruity notes of red berries; and the smooth and intensely chocolatey 74 percent Lam Dong with hints of spice. They prompted us to take a closer look at the ingredients, which don’t include any added flavours. Like high-quality chocolate, each bar has a sheen and breaks with a snap.
The pretty packaging is as much a selling point as the nuanced taste. Each wrapper features festive-looking screen-printed gold streaks running across bright blocks of yellow, green, blue, red or purple. The colours correspond to the hues of the cacao pods sourced from that province (see the image above). Beneath the coloured paper, there’s a second layer of plain gold wrapping that recalls the coveted golden ticket in our favourite Roald Dahl novel Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
Compared to homegrown artisanal chocolate brands, Marou’s 80 grams bars (regular flavours are priced at Rs790 and limited edition ones at Rs900) are taxing on the wallet. It’s a price we’re happy to pay on a special day, because the satisfaction of eating their fine dark chocolate outlasts the sticker shock.
Marou chocolates are priced between Rs790 and Rs900 for 80 grams bars and are available at Foodhall, Level 3, Palladium Mall, Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 3026 4581. Also at Gourmet Store, Grand Hyatt, off Western Express Highway, Kalina, Santa Cruz (East). Tel: 022 6676 1234. You can also order online here.
Take A Shelfie is a series of posts in which we highlight food products we think are worth picking up.