Posts Categorized: Chocolate

M. Truffe goes Willy Wonkers

M. Truffe: now open at 351 Lygon St (in addition to Smith St, Collingwood) It’s a dream come true, Thibault Fregoni aka Monsieur Truffe tells me. It’s the first day his new cafe and chocolate factory (351 Lygon St, near Blythe St, behind a red door but without any signage yet) is open and he is excitedly showing us his new toys. When I say factory I should explain. To date most people in Australia are chocolate melters, including M. Truffe himself. That means they create chocolate by blending and tempering pure chocolate and cocoa butter to make bars and various ganaches. In M. Truffe’s case his chocolate, labelled by percentage of cocoa solids and country of origin, seems to be of higher quality and more elegant than available in other chocoholic venues. What is new is that he will be roasting the actual cocoa beans, starting with the beans from fermented cocoa pods. He’s only just starting out and is experimenting with beans from Tanzania and far North Queensland, which he says are of a higher quality.The big change is that he will be able to label his chocolate from single plntations, much like we are seeing in specialty coffee nowadays. Monsieur Truffe talks chocolate. The big red machine is M.Truffe’s roaster, similar to the sort of roaster used for coffee. He bought it from Tcho, a technology start-up blended with chocolate maker, which has Louis Rossetto, a co-founder of Wired, as chief executive and chief creative. The company, famous for its open source recipes, had to stop roasting in San Francisco when strict environmental protection laws were introduced. I’ve a crush on the melanger The melanger, which was found abandoned in a factory in Paris and cost more to ship back than purchase, crushes the beans and grinds them to a paste. There is a smaller version which he plans to use on nuts to make praline and his own version of Nutella. This, and all the equipment, including varios conches, vacuum flasks and all manner of things, are on open view to the public. The whole M. Truffe story is a brilliant one. Discovered and made popular by bloggers,he started off with a mobile stall on Sundays at Prahran Market in 2005, sharing a commercial kitchen to make his ganache (see what I wrote in The Australian). He then moved onto a permanent stall, eventually establishing his… Read more »

Q: Does Fairtrade matter in Australia?

A: It didn’t used to but increasing in Australia we are buying into the idea of Fairtrade, as these charts show. This week Harriet Lamb director of the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK is visiting Australia, a leader in certification of the ethical sourcing of products. The fact is that Europe has been leading the world in sourcing Fairtrade goods for some 18 years while in Australia in the past five or six years we have only come to buy into the certification scheme. Basically Fairtrade’s aim is to protect workers in developing countries who are often exploited to produce cheap commodity products from chocolate to coffee, tea, cotton and even sports balls. The question to ask is whether the chocolate, coffee or tea you buy each day is ethically sourced. That means that a decent price is paid for the commodities, there are decent working conditions and that child labour isn’t used. You also might be interested to hear that 75 per cent of the world’s sports balls come from Pakistan and that many workers co-opt their children into making them. They often work long hours and are paid PKR20 (about one-third the minimum wage) To participate all you need to do is change shopping behaviour and as you can see from the charts supplied by the Fairtrade Association of Australia and New Zealand we are starting to do this. I had the opportunity to ask Lamb a series of questions for a story I was writing for a business magazine and was only able to use a small portion of the answers due to space constraints. Here is the full Q&A. EC: Why has the UK seen such amazing growth in Fairtrade while the economy has been so poor? HL: I think that the public are basically very decent – so once they know about Fairtrade, they are very loyal. Indeed, once you know about poverty among farmers, you cannot “unknow” that – in fact, if anything, in tough times maybe you have more empathy with people really struggling to make ends meet. Fairtrade is about going back to your core values – about people – and coming out of a time of abundance, the UK public’s mood may be in tune with those core values.  It is indeed significant, that while people have cut back on any items, they have increased their spending on Fairtrade and are… Read more »