Masters of Chocolate look abroad and see something even richer

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Last year Mr Galler opened a chocolate shop on Las Olas Blvd in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, and plans to open other outlets in the United States.

For example, you might have a foie gras with a touch of chocolate in a sauce

Five years ago, the Belgian chocolate maker Jean Galler collaborated in opening a restaurant in southern Namur where the main courses are flavored with chocolate.

"For example, you might have a foie gras with a touch of chocolate in a sauce," he said, "or a salmon salad with a vinaigrette with white chocolate."

The restaurant was a huge success, and, last year, Mr. Galler, who trained in Switzerland and has 30 stores, 13 of them in Belgium, opened a chocolate shop in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, and plans to open other outlets in the United States.

"The Mayas and the Aztecs used chocolate as a spice," he said, over hot chocolate in his shop in the upscale Uccle neighborhood of Brussels. And indeed, a package of three of his chocolates contains varieties spiced with curry, ginger and angelica.

"Mexico is our roots," he said. The relative youth of the gourmet chocolate market in the U.S. means it has plenty of room for growth. American tastes are becoming more sophisticated because of greater exposure to fine foods through travel abroad and celebrity chefs on TV.

The trend in gourmet chocolates is toward varietal types-specific cocoa beans grown in specific locations-much like the vintage of fine wines. But, total cocoa content is the most important ratio, and a premium chocolate contains no less than 50 percent total cocoa. The processing is also very important. The longer the chocolate is stirred or conched, the smoother and creamier the resulting chocolate. Conching time ranges from as little as four hours to as many as ninety six hours.

Galler is an "artisanal" chocolate, hand made, created fresh, with unique recipes and natural ingredients : no coloring, preservative or artificial aroma.

Galler's chocolate has been rated amongst the top European chocolates, and won the 1st retail prize at the Fancy Food Fair in New York in 2001.

All Galler chocolates can be found at the chocolate shop located in Fort Lauderdale, at 920 E Las Olas blvd or on the web site http://www.gallerusa.com.

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