by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
May 17, 2005
Joan E. Coukos, wanted to make something with her hands. She wanted to feel tangible ingredients, hold the chocolate molds, play with the properties of chocolate and in this lave of labor she wanted to produce something that is a labor of love. Her determination and hard work have culminated in Chocolat Moderne, a rising star on the chocolate horizon.
Joan’s life changed during a trip to Belgium. On the plane ride to Europe she read a fascinating article about artisanal chocolates. Then at an antique market in Brussels she came across chocolate molds and it hit her that this was the beginning of a new era, a renaissance in chocolate making, and the beginning of a new career for her. Tired of working with virtual tools like the cell phone and PDA all day, the former banker eagerly switched to the stuff of the senses, tools and materials embodied in the past and reflecting her love for food, art, history and culture.
Chemically speaking, chocolate is an extremely complex food, which, ironically, is why it pairs well with savories. Joan experiments with fruits and herbs, introducing flavors that evoke a certain atmosphere or a country or region that she reads about or visits. For example, Havana Heat is a combination of Habañero pepper and Madagascan chocolate, a seemingly out-of-the-ordinary pairing, but the subtle pepper spice really brings about a spurt of heat that warms you up and makes you want more.
Chocolates are great for all occasions but Joan is also promoting chocolate as the dessert course. She holds tasting events in conjunction with Gotham Wines & Liquors in which chocolates are paired with wines and spirits. At the end of a meal, chocolates can serve as a lovely dessert as they are great companions to spirits like sherry, whiskey or port. A recommended pairing list can be found on the Chocolat Moderne website under the section called “Lift Your Spirits.”
Click here to read about our craving from Joan Coukos at Chocolat Moderne.