Monday, November 12, 2007

Author Interview: Clay Gordon helps you Discover Chocolate

Clay Gordon, as much as anyone, is responsible for the public realization (and acceptance) that Chocolate is a gourmet food worthy of being taken seriously and appreciated as one might appreciate any other gourmet food.

In the past fifteen months Clay has been featured in articles on chocolate in The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, and The New York Times' Dining In section, among other national and regional publications, and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and ESPN2's morning show Cold Pizza.

Now, Clay can proudly add the Mark and Lynn Site to this lineup as he was nice enought to conduct an email interviw with us about the past, present and future of chocolate as well as his new work Discover Chocolate (Gotham Books).

MLAF: You note in your book you didn't so much become a chocolate critic as sort of invent the idea-Was chocolate really ignored to that extent in food writing?

CG: "Back in 1994 when I got the idea "to become the Robert Parker of chocolate" I could find literally no serious discussion of chocolate on par with wine, cigars, scotch, etc. The only specialty publication I could find was Chocolatier magazine but that was (and still is) more about pastry and baking than about chocolate
connoisseurship. I don't know if I invented the idea but I think you'd be hard pressed to find real critical discussion about chocolate prior to my beginning to tually the reverse is true: I am an equal-opportunity chocophile. I like any chocolate I think is good. It's all a matter of personal taste and who am I to tell
someone that their taste is bad because they don't like the same things I like? It's a lot like wine snobs who look down on people who drink white zinfandel, or people who no longer drink merlot because the movie Sideways influenced them to believe that ALL pinot noirs were superior to ALL merlots. It's nonsense. I don't think that there is any room for snobbery in chocolate and people who are proud of the fact that they "ONLY eat 70% cocoa content or higher chocolate" are, in my opinion, simply revealing the profound depths of their ignorance on the subject."

MLAF: What is the best entry point for someone toexplore the finer aspects of chocolate?

CG: "I talk about a chocolate tasting pyramid in my book, which is a method for quickly understanding what you like about the chocolate you like to eat. For many people price is certainly an issue, but with the chocolate tasting pyramid concept you can get started using bars that are easily available in the local supermarket or gourmet store."

MLAF: You mention that chocolate pairs nicely with wine and some darker spirits-Are there any other pairings with food or drink that might work? (Cheese? Clear Spirits?)

CG:"White goods (what you call clear spirits) are really hard to pair well in my experience. Wines and brown goods (bourbon, scotch, etc)are much easier for the simple fact that they have flavors that are complementary to chocolate."

"There are enormous possibilities with food pairings. I have done dinners where smoked salmon wrapped hearts of palm were paired with a white chocolate horseradish cream dipping sauce and breakfasts that featured white chocolate hollandaise sauce for eggs Benedict. Another dinner paired liver (in the form of a pate) with a dark
chocolate ganache, balsamic vinegar, and toasted hazelnuts in one course and scallops with a dark chocolate beurre blanc in another. At one of my book signing parties I offered shrimp with a cocoa balsamic glaze."

"I recently did a chocolate-lovers's getaway weekend at the Swann House, a B&B in Washington, DC. The tasting session on Saturday afternoon included three wines, two cheeses, two balsamic vinegars, two cured meats, and four chocolates. It was a lot of fun and we came up with some amazing taste combinations by not being afraid to
make unusual pairings."

"I think there are enormous opportunities for working with chocolate in a savory setting and in fact that's where I concentrate my culinary efforts not in desserts."

MLAF: What do you think the future of chocolate is as a food that is taken seriously as a gourmet item?

CG: "I don't think that there is any question any more that chocolate is a gourmet food, at least among those people who already consider themselves foodies. The challenge that this raises is that the supply of high quality beans is getting tighter and tighter and it takes at least five years before new trees become productive. So, good chocolate (in fact all chocolate) is likely to become more
expensive over the next couple of years as the demand for higher quality and higher cocoa content chocolate continues to grow."

Explore more of Clay Gordon's life and work at &

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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