On a cold winter February evening, in a palace with fountains, long halls, luxurious chintzy couches, idyllic sea views and deferential men in waiting, I met the the tall and dark stranger. He had an exotic lineage. His physiognomy spoke of the mysteries his Aztec origins. His travels through the mysterious diametrically diverse lands of Venezuela, Ghana and Ecuador had lent the air of one who knows where he stands. His final mastery came from the Japanese artistry and precision. Yes I had finally met my tall, dark, handsome and rich lover. The love of my life finally… The paradox of tenderness and strength, this was one smooth operator –Royce !
And before my husband of eleven years starts getting jealous, let me introduce you to this stranger who has me waxing all poetic; ROYCE, one of the finest chocolates founded in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan in 1983. It has come a long way since, from the best kept secret of Hokkaido to a multinational brand with outlets in Asia-Pacific. The brand is known for its consistent fresh chocolate products rich in flavours, textures, complexity and uniqueness. Royce was launched in India by Burgundy Hospitality in July 2013 at the Palladium Mall, Lower Parel, Mumbai and after its tremendous success in Sobo has opened its second outlet at Bombay Baking Company, J W Marriott, Juhu.
And that is where I met this familiar stranger at the launch. The ROYCE’ Chocolate Pairing Menu will be served at the Bombay Baking Company and Reflections at the JW Marriott Mumbai. Chef Himanshu Tandon has paired the various chocolates with different beverages ranging from tea/coffee to liquor keeping in mind the complex tastes of each of these chocolates. The chocolates shall also be retailed from the same venue.
We started with Royce Pure Chocolate “Ghana Sweet” paired with Twinings Glendale Twirl. Glendale, one of the most expensive teas from the Nilgiris is known for its light spicy nature and goes well with sweet foods. It brought out the sweetness of the “Ghana Sweet” quite effectively. These small chocolate discs were smooth with a perfect balance of sweet and bitter with 60% cocoa. We then tried Royce Pure Chocolate “Venezuela Bitter” paired with Twinings second flush Darjeeling. The tea had a delicate fruity, honey flavour and went well with the aromatic fragrant and slight acidic taste of the “Venezuela Bitter” made with 68% cacao. The chocolate itself was amazingly smooth and distinctive in its flavours.
The second round of tasting was of Royce Baton cookies “Hazel Cacao” paired with Espresso. The Hazelnut powder and roasted cocoa beans forming the crispy cookies with a thin layer of chocolate at the bottom was a fantastic accompaniment to the coffee. The nutty taste went beautifully with the strength of the espresso.
The third round was of the world renowned Royce Nama “Mild Cacao” and Royce Nama “Ecuador Sweet”. Royce Nama “Mild Cacao” is a non-liquor ganache chocolate with the mildest essence of cocoa. The smooth velvety rich texture of this chocolate makes it a perfect dessert. It was paired with a cocktail called Chocolate D’zire, a concoction of vodka, fresh cream and Amaretto. Royce Nama “Ecuador Sweet” is a complex blend of fragrant Ecuadorian cocoa beans and Fresh Hokkaido cream giving it a certain delicacy of aroma on several levels. It was paired with Xocolat Old Fashioned cocktail made with Bourbon, chocolate syrup and chocolate bitters. While the cocktails itself were worth trying, we did not find them going well with the chocolates. We think the chocolates by themselves were fantastic and superbly out of this world.
The last round was of Royce Criollo “Bitter” paired with Singleton 18 Whiskey; a rich fruity single malt. Royce Criollo “Bitter” is a full bodied intensely flavoured chocolate with 65% Criollo cocoa bean. The pairing worked well. The other variation to this was the Royce Criollo (Sweet) chocolate with 52% Criollo cocoa beans. The latter was a milder but equally fragrant and intense variation on the ‘Bitter”. These fine chocolates had been made from Criollo beans, one of the world’s rarest and most expensive cocoa beans from Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela.
Chocolates by themselves are therapeutic but from Royce they start making you believe in Nirvana. If only the Greeks and Shakespeare knew of chocolate they wouldn’t have written so many tragedies!
Almost tempted to quote Joanne Harris the author of Chocolat; “In my dreams I gorge on chocolates, I roll in chocolates, and their texture is not brittle but soft as flesh, like a thousand mouths on my body, devouring me in fluttering small bites. To die beneath their tender gluttony seems the culmination of every temptation I have ever known.”
Ratings out of 5
Overall: 4 (For Royce and not the pairing menu)
Price range :Rs. 800 – Rs. 1000 Approximately for a box of 20-24 |
Ratings out of 5 (For the Pairing Menu)
Food: 3.5 | Ambiance: 4 | Service: 3.5 |Overall: 3.5
Pairing Menu : Rs. 400 – Rs. 1650 Approximately plus taxes| Alcohol: Yes
Credit Card: Yes | Timing: Open daily, from 11am to 11pm
Address: ROYCE’ Juhu, Bombay Baking Company, JW Marriott, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049 | Telephone : 022-66933399 / 66933000 / 9833913309
– Jenifer Mistry