Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chocolate covered BA

I'm obsessed with chocolate. In fact, addicted. As in, while I was typing the first sentence I capitalized the "c" as if it were the name of a person.
For as long as I've been traveling, I've been trying chocolate (among every other type of food) along the way. Whether my destination is known for chocolate or not, I always try it; it seems as though nearly every corner of the world has laid claim to the rich and creamy pleasure. Better safe than sorry. I usually like to try run of the mill convenience store chocolates as well as anything high end or uniquely local.
I've experienced many a chocolate fail in Buenos Aires. Case in point: sapitos. These frog shaped, filled, milk chocolates come in a variety of flavors from DDL to banana. They looked promising, but ended being that kind of super processed chocolate that doesn't melt away in your mouth, it just sits there like gum without any flavor. I actually threw chocolate away!
On the other hand, despite being a gym obsessed city and a country with one of the highest eating disorder rates in the world, Buenos Aires still manages to have some excellent chocolate. Here are the best chocolate offerings in the city, just in time for bikini season!

Tikal, a boutique chocolate shop named after an ancient Mayan site, has two locations in Belgrano (Echeverría 2495 & Av. Federico Lacroze 2306/08) and a third in Microcentro (Galería Guemes Florida 165 ). This worldly chocolatier combines cocoa sourced from various countries including Ghana, Venezuela and Madagascar with national ingredients like dulce de leche from La Pampa and honey from Mendoza, and completes their treats with the unique flavors of imported liquor and spices. They offer a variety chocolate products ranging from snacks like chocolate bars and lollipops for 10 pesos or less, to sophisticated gift items such as chocolate covered coffee beans and chocolate soccer balls (of course), and classics like truffles. My favorite product is the dark chocolate coins topped with a white chocolate stamped logo (A$R for a bag of 12). These treats offer the rich flavor of dark chocolate with just a touch of creaminess, in one tiny bite. Check out their website and Facebook pages for special events like chocolate seminars. Practicing Spanish just got more appealing.
Rapa Nui is cafe shop which sells ice cream, chocolate and other merienda snacks. The long counter holds an array of ice creams on one side and a chocolate display on the other. But, why choose one when you can have two in one? The best thing here is the 80% cacao ice cream. The first time I tried this ice cream, it was euphoric; it's perfect. It has the exact flavor of expensive semisweet chocolate, but in a cold and creamy form. I recommend a 1/4 kilo (to yourself) half cacao and half triple tentacion which includes dulce de leche and merengue and mixes excellently with the rich chocolate.
It's no surprise that Patagonia is the real chocolate destination in Argentina. Something about cold weather and always being bundled up in layers of sweaters makes constant chocolate consumption acceptable. Mamuschka and Abuela Goye are two chains of chocolate shops which originated in Bariloche but now have outposts in Capital (Recoleta Mall and Galerias Pacificas plus 3 more, respectively). 

As far as mass produced chocolate goes, my absolute favorite is bananitas. These are banana flavored, candy coated chocolates - like M&M's but banana flavored. They come in tiny bags, which can be a portion control bonus, or waste of packing depending on how you look at it. Another favorite, Tofi, is a dulce de leche filled chocolate bar which comes in milk and white chocolate. Kinder eggs, of course, are not specifically Argentine, but they aren't in the U.S. and they are here, so you don't want to skip those either. Aguila is the go-to bar for making submarino (chocolate dissolved in hot milk).
**Here is a bonus politically INCORRECT commerical from Aguila**

Don't you just love the way people with accents pronounce chocolate? It sounds so elegant and exotic like shock - oh - laht. I love it.

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