Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Event Coverage: Rediscovering Van Houten Chocolates

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My earliest recollections of imported chocolates bring me back to the 70’s when my dad, who was serving in the Air Force at that time, used to bring home sack loads of them from PX outlets in the former US base, Clark Field in Pampangga. Bars of Toblerone, Hershey’s, M&Ms, and a lot more are a common sight inside our ref, especially during Christmas time.

Among the pile, the rare find would have to be the Van Houten Chocolates. Not all the time could my siblings and I get to eat it because they’re quite expensive. So, whenever Dad brings home Van Houten chocolates, my mother would ration them into small bricks so everybody could have equal shares. I remember her placing the pieces on the sides of our plates during dinner time. Back then, I told my dad I wish that all chocolates he would bring home would just be Van Houten ones so I could eat more of them.

Last September 13, I was lucky enough to be invited to an afternoon of chocolate appreciation among media friends at the Society Lounge, one of the hippest, posh venues in Makati. To my delight, this special event is actually about rediscovering Van Houten, the chocolates I considered the “gold nuggets” among the other chocolates I grew up to enjoy. 

The day was celebrated with a communal ritual chocolate appreciation that involves all senses from the feel of the packaging, the smell, the sound of the “break” and, of course, the taste that encouraged everyone to have a small piece linger in the upper palette and tongue. It was my first time to experience this kind of session and I savored every minute of it. 

The program was introduced by a short “chocophilia” education and a short history of Van Houten. The venue was filled by people and chocolates. It was like a mini version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Van Houten Chocolates of different kinds are practically everywhere. For me, it was like the Christmas times of my childhood again. 

Chef Patrice Freuslon, Society Lounge’s Executive Chef, enlightened everybody on how Van Houten can be enjoyed with everyday dishes or on its own. He also provided us with some delectable cocktail treats and fine wine that made for a perfect match while enjoying Van Houten chocolates. 

That day was truly special. Van Houten chocolates everywhere at my disposal! Unfortunately, I knew that fulfilling my childhood chocolate dreams would not be possible. You see, I would have to eat chocolates at the barest minimum because I was just recently diagnosed with diabetes. 

Nonetheless, the event ended in a blissful conclusion because all of us got to bring home samples of Van Houten although my system could only tolerate a small “brick” a day to control my blood sugar level. 

So I’m glad that none of my kids have my illness. I realized that my childhood chocolate dreams were fulfilled in them after all. Indeed, I found joy just seeing my kids eat Van Houten chocolates not in rationed pieces but by bars to their hearts’ content … like those many Christmases ago in the 70’s. 

*Photos borrowed from Jeman of OrangeMagazineTV.com

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