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Food of the Gods

Since the Days of the Aztecs, No Food Has Incited More Passion than Chocolate
Sam Gugino
From the Print Edition:
Pierce Brosnan, Nov/Dec 97

(continued from page 3)

Sam Gugino is a food and wine writer based in New York City.

CHOCOLATE CIGARS

Since our inaugural issue in 1992, Cigar Aficionado has tested more than 1,300 cigars. We have rated practically every size and brand available on the premium market. But this is our first foray into distinctive, rich and flavorful chocolate cigars.

A panel of 10 self-proclaimed "chocoholics" from the staffs of Cigar Aficionado and Marvin Shanken's Cigar Insider, our monthly newsletter, blind-tasted 14 cigars from chocolate manufacturers around the United States. What we found is that the chocolate cigar market is no different from the premium cigar market. There are outstanding, good and mediocre chocolate cigars. They come in various shapes and sizes. Some look exquisite, some are improperly constructed and others don't even look like cigars. Only four cigars rated 90 or above; one was deemed a classic.

The cigars were either purchased at the chocolatier or sent directly from the manufacturer. They were kept in ideal refrigerated conditions and were tasted within a day after they were received.

The "smoke" determined to be the best was made by Brooklyn chocolatier Alexandra & Nicholay. Its perfecto-shaped dark chocolate cigar scored a 95. An Armagnac-dipped chocolate cigar made by La Maison du Chocolat received a 91. Two cigars, a dark chocolate cigarillo and a dark chocolate, whiskey-flavored panetela-like cigar, created by New York-based German expatriate Otrud Carstens, scored 93 and 90, respectively. Six cigars scored in the mid- to upper-80s, with one scoring a 70 and another not receiving a score because it did not resemble a cigar at all.

Given the results of the tasting, one can conclude that there is something for everyone. For the serious chocolate connoisseur, who is used to deeper, richer flavors, the choices are many. If any chocolate will do, there are plenty of options as well. Some of the cigars come in dark chocolate and milk chocolate varieties. Whatever the preference, chocolate manufacturers have created a product that cigar smokers can enjoy anytime and anywhere, without offending fellow diners or significant others. --Shandana Durrani

ALEXANDRA & NICHOLAY
2270 A 65th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11204 Phone (718)234-7982
Dark Chocolate Cigar 95
A perfecto-shaped cigar with a fabulous texture that delivers a bittersweet, dark chocolate flavor. $1.00

CHOCOLATES FOR THE CONNOISSEUR
by Otrud Carstens. Available at Dean & Deluca stores
Grand Cru Cigarillo 93
A uniquely shaped, elegant and well-made cigar with a smooth and rich bittersweet flavor. $1.25

LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT
25 East 73rd Street, New York, New York 10021 Phone (212)744-7117
Dark Chocolate Cigar 91
A nice-looking dusted cigar with bittersweet highlights and a milky, creamy tex-ture with a rich Armagnac flavor. $3.95


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