Saturday, 28 June 2008

Max Brenner Chocolates

We were driving through St Ives one day after talking about Belle Fleur and chocolate shops in general and saw this, a Max Brenner Chocolate Bar:

So, of course we had to come back and check it out. Max Brenner opened his first chocolate workshop in Israel in 1996, making and selling his chocolates out of his boutique-like workshop. Since then he has aspired to take chocolate to a whole new level and to create an entirely new chocolate culture (and one day, his own chocolate bald man city).

His chocolate culture philosophy is so awesome I have to quote it here (from his official site):

""It's not only about mixing exotic spices or creating delicate mousses. It is more than just an excellent gourmet product. Chocolate, more than any other food, is integrated in to many aspects of our lives. It is a symbol of contradicting emotions and sensations. On one hand, it is the most romantic gift, on the other hand it is a commodity which is traded on the stock exchange. It is sold like a prestigious piece of jewelry carefully selected from a glass case but also as an addictive snack available at every corner store. It is tasted like a fine wine and licked off of fingers dipped straight in to the bowl. It is sexy, nostalgic, and forever an object of fantasy for children and grownup children. These diverse chocolate associations are the inspiration behind Max Brenner's new chocolate culture""

The way they talk about chocolate really does take the whole taste sensation to another level. It becomes soulful, an experience to be savoured. It's pretty cool.

When you enter you are greeted with these tantalizing vats of molton chocolate being stirred and churned and connected to giant pipes (labelled chocolate) running all over the ceiling. It's almost Willy Wonka-esque, but ever so much more elegant.

The colour scheme is all chocolate brown. There's dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate tones throughout the store. The colours and the lighting (which was quite soft and gentle) made it very cosy and comforting, much like the chocolate itself.

the store

the store including the chocolate case

There is quite a large selection of food available, most all of it being chocolate, filled with chocolate, dipped in chocolate or covered with chocolate. The food is served on reasonably large plates and then melted chocolate is drizzled very liberally across the plate. Behind the cafe counter they have a massive stainless steel mixing bowl kept warm with the chocolate being frequently stirred. We didn't choose to eat and just tried some hot drinks.

My milk chocolate mocha served in a hug mug. There were four choices of mocha (and most of the other chocolate drinks as well): dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and reduced calorie. I chose milk chocolate and it was fabulous. It was creamy and comforting and the flavour was beautifully subtle and chocolatey. The hug mug is awesome too, I wanted to buy one but resisted and regretted it. I've now discovered that Max Brenner has an Australian online shop,, so I think I might have to get one from there. The hug mug is perfect for milk drinks where the ideal temperature isn't scalding, it's meant for those drinks that are warming and gentle. I can just imagine drinking my warm milk and vanilla from it on nights when I can't sleep...

DD has a cappucino in a kangaroo cup. The kangaroo cup has a lip on the side meant to hold little pieces of chocolate, which will melt from the heat of the drink. You then use the end of the special spoon to clean out the melted chocolate from the groove as a treat. I was too busy enjoying my mocha to really remember what DD's drink was like, but I do remember tasting it and thinking that it was a good coffee. I don't drink coffee, so I'm not really the best judge though.

After our drinks I went for a wander around the store part to see their chocolate offerings.

the chocolate case

We bought a few things from here and also from the Parramatta store when we visited so we could take our Max Brenner experience with us.

Max Brenner Chocolate Bar is a chocolate lover's heaven, it's chocolate so many ways that there is something there that is perfect for you and sings to you and fulfils you in a way that only really really good chocolate can. I've never had anything like that level of chocolate satisfaction ever before and I don't think I ever will again until our next trip to Sydney.

That being said, the service there is a little questionable and sometimes the atmosphere isn't the best. The St Ives store is very popular with chocolate-lovers of all ages and when we visited one afternoon at around four the place was packed. The tables had been pushed together (all except one of the indoor tables) and there were school bags littering the floor (all over the floor, not just in a corner). It was loud and busy. While this definately isn't the store's fault, we really just wanted to get takeaway and get out it was that off-putting. It was disappointed as we were planning on staying and trying something to eat. When we visited early on Wednesday morning, the store was much more enjoyable. It wasn't busy, but there were other people there quietly enjoying their drinks and there was no furniture rearrangement. The service all three times we visited (twice at St Ives and once at Parramatta) was unenthusiastic at best although we couldn't fault what they delivered to us.

I am much more satisfied just remembering how much I enjoyed our first visit specifically and all of the chocolate in general.

The haul from Max Brenner: a box of milk chocolate praline rolled in fresh roasted almonds, a bag of milk chocolate caibos (milk chocolate chunks), some milk chocolate powder (single country of origin, it's from Venezuela), a tin of milk chocolate cubes filled with praline and caramelized pecan bits and a 9 piece truffle/praline gift box.

Milk chocolate praline rolled in fresh roasted almonds: this was the first chocolate I tasted and when I did, I though that this was how all chocolate with nuts in it should taste like. It was awesome. The box only had five chocolates, they were gone too soon.

Milk chocolate cubes filled with praline and caramelised pecan bits: these were smaller than praline and almonds, with a higher chocolate to nut ratio. The nuts were speckled throughout the cubes and they were slightly sweeter. I liked these a little better than the first ones, but it was really close to call.

The 9-piece gift box: top row (from left) praline with dark chocolate, praline with mocha and one that I can't remember.
middle row (from left) praline with roasted coconut, peanut butter cream, whipped milk chocolate cream
bottom row (from left) dark chocolate cream with mint leaves, praline with caramelised pecan, praline with milk chocolate

Notes on the gift box.

Praline with dark chocolate
* thick and creamy, rich dark chocolatey taste

Praline with mocha
* gorgeous mocha taste, not as meltingly creamy as the praline with dark chocolate. Too good to share!

The one I can't identify
* chocolate coating, whipped inside, it's light but not as light as the whipped milk chocolate. I can't pick out a flavour though

Praline with roasted coconut
* crunchy praline with just a hint of roasted coconut flavour

Peanut butter
* rich gooey peanut butter taste - better than a peanut butter cup anyday

Whipped milk chocolate cream
* light and fluffy fun chocolate, I think I prefer the chocolates with stronger flavours though

Dark chocolate cream with mint leaves
* yummy! think of the best after dinner mint you've ever tasted and then imagine it creamier and richer.

Praline with caramelised pecan
* more crunchy praline, nice and sweet matching well with the milk chocolate. very similar to the boxed ones, which I loved

Praline with milk chocolate
* creamy and soothing, it's the chocolate to eat when you're feeling in need of a little comfort. Or whenever actually, it's really really good.

Luckily for me, DD doesn't like praline so he wasn't interested in tasting any of these. Luckily for my waistline, there actually wasn't a lot of chocolate there. This was a little disappointing though because I've nearly run out but since there's now, I'm sure I'll survive.

Max Brenner Chocolate Bar
Shop 1, Ground Floor
235 Mona Vale Rd
St Ives, NSW
Ph 02 9988 0700
(other locations across Sydney and Melbourne also)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post. This is on my list of places to visit!