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A Charminar to drool and eat

Chocolatier Adelbert Bucher shares some molten moments on cocoa, sugar and why chocolates turn us all into children. SERISH NANISETTI listens in



BUILDING IT UP Lindt chocolatier Adelbert Boucher creating a scaled model of Charminar which will be on display till September 26 at Westin PHOTOS: SERISH NANISETTI

When he steps out of the lift car and proffers his palm, he smells of chocolate. "My family doesn't complain when I come back from work smelling like this," he says with a laugh. Chef Adelbert Bucher's cap has a single smudge of chocolate and he fixes you with his steel grey eyes twinkling with mischief and says: "I must have had my first chocolate when I was two, maybe when I was four? I don't remember. But I lived just across Lake Zurich near Lake Lucerne so I could always smell chocolate I guess."

In the city for creating a Lindt Charminar (will it be eaten after the display?) Chef Adelbert shares some of his gyaan about chocolate, the fine art of savouring it and the nuances that make it such a luxurious craving.

Inside the chocolate room of Westin Hotel in Madhapur where the Charminar is being created with the help of chef Joseph, he is all hands and eyes. He finds a column of Charminar that is not being worked on and he carries it like a baby and puts it in the chiller where the temperature is -2 Celsius. "Chocolate should be savoured at room temperature, only then you will get all the flavours," he says. But India is a warm country and chocolates melt when you keep them outside refrigerator. "Switch on the room AC, keep the temperature at 20 C, keep the chocolate outside and you will see heaven," he promises.

Chef Joseph sprays a fine mist of chocolate on the arches and columns which gives the room an aroma that is drool-worthy, the four chocolate finials are still in their molten state in cones for Adelbert to give the finishing touches (he climbed the monument on Sunday to get a feel of the place).

"You should not bite a chocolate, you should let it melt in your mouth, let all the flavours wash inside your mouth. It should melt, you shouldn't have to chew it like a chewing gum. Even if you eat a chocolate every day, you will find different flavours. Chocolate is about cocoa not about sugar. Cheap chocolates are for bees, they are full of sugar," he says.

He offers a ball of Lindt chocolate wrapped in red. The moment it is inside the mouth it explodes, filling the mouth, forcing you to savour the flavours. "Chocolates are a luxury, the beans are expensive, the process of conching for creating fine chocolates takes about three days. This is what makes them so special," he says.

"The beans for fine chocolates come from Cuba, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Venezuela and other hot countries. You see, the cocoa plant likes warm weather but not the sun. There are variations in the bean depending on the country of origin, the soil, the climate and even the season. Like sommeliers who can tell the province of wine, chocolatiers can tell that for the bean. We use a combination of beans to ensure the taste remains the same," says Adelbert.

So what makes Swiss chocolates different? "The Swiss were the first to take to making chocolates. That worked to its advantage," he says dismissing all notions about magic, weather and corporate secrets.

"If you want a hot chocolate, don't buy a pound of cocoa powder, boil milk and add sugar. Why don't you just take a dark chocolate or two (they have percentages of cocoa written on the wrapper) put them in a mug, pour the milk, use a hand blender. Then sit down and drink it watching the rain?" he advises. Aye, to that.


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