Cacaopod & I visited S. Korea for the 1st time in Oct. ’09. We had a blast. There’s a lot of physical beauty (approx. 70% of the land is mountains), and where it’s not so beautiful, it’s still interesting and visually stimulating. Plus, it’s a nation of foodies where it seemed like everybody’s into food as medicine and wants to eat only the freshest organic ingredients — they even want to know country of origin of the food they eat, and a lot of restaurants grow their own produce.
So what’s with Korean chocolate?
Chocolate has yet to make a scene in Seoul. We found no artisan chocolate — we were only there 9 days, maybe we missed some lone pioneer — and no chocolate culture. What we did find, in the gourmet food section of Korea’s biggest department store, Lotte, was kimchi chocolate, which they promote as “Korea Tourism Chocolate.” Of course, we had to bring some home as souvenirs.
Kimchi is spicy pickled vegetables (usually cabbage), which Koreans eat with just about everything —so why not chocolate? After all, chocolate with all sorts of chiles tastes great. But sad to say, this chocolate is not a winner.
We sampled it with fellow chocolate enthusiast and candy maker, I-Li Chang of Vice Chocolates.
The chocolates are individually wrapped, so they were fresh. There was no bloom or other disfigurement. The heat at the end was nice and long lasting.
Before sampling, I-Li attempted to read the label, but there did not seem to be an ingredients list in any of the 3 languages printed. The chocolate tasted waxy, and it was milk, not dark — boo.
And the kimchi taste was dis-gust-ing. Think sour cooked cabbage in low-grade milk chocolate. Not a winner.