Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pierre Marcolini Chocolatier - Brussels

It’s astonishing that in a city of barely a million inhabitants, Brussels boasts 2,200 retailers that vend chocolates. Two of them, however, stand out from the masses. I have already entered a post about Wittamer, so now it’s time to exclaim about one of the neighbors. Entering the enclave of Pierre Marcolini on Rue des Minimes (Place du Grand Sablon) in Brussels is like stepping into a haute couture fashion house in Milan. The decór is cutting edge modern (the antithesis of Wittamer a few doors away), the carpet is plush, and the ambience is hushed. And once you’ve made your selections and stepped away to the cashier (again, as in a couture house), the elaborate packaging begins. These are not boxes you’ll toss after the contents are gone, and the shopping bags will be treasured until the corners are worn out. Did I mention that the average small box of these over-the-top chocolate creations will set you back $28?

Pierre Marcolini, a Belgian of Italian decent, is one of only two Belgian “chocolatiers,” and one of four in all of Europe. The title of “chocolatier” is bestowed solely upon those who select their cocoa beans, roast them and make their own basic ingredient, “couverture.” Marcolini uses only the finest beans from Venezuela, Madagascar, Ecuador and Mexico.

This extraordinary artisan has received the most prestigious awards and was named World Champion Pastry Chef in 1995. The secret to his astounding success is a pursuit of perfection and a total discipline in his recipes. Natural ingredients give all of his creations their authentic flavors. The same care and attention that goes into making the finest wine is applied to making the finest chocolate, and from bean to bar Pierre is wholly responsible for the product.

Pierre's atelier in Brussels employs a 35 person team of talented artisans. It is here that the lengthy process of cleaning, roasting, conching and tempering gets underway. Taking up to a week. the end result is the “couverture.” Pierre's philosophy is "to aim to be the best, and always improve." This man takes himself, and his creations, seriously.

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