` L'Esperantine de Marseille - Olive Oil Times

L'Esperantine de Marseille

Dec. 4, 2010
Emily Monaco

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By Emily Monaco | Reporting from Paris

The Salon du Chocolat in Paris is like a choco­holic’s Disneyland… com­plete with the over­whelm­ing sen­sa­tion that there is just too much to take in. Truffles abound; slabs of choco­late per­fume the air with the nearly cloy­ing scent of cocoa and sugar… so when some­thing dif­fer­ent draws my atten­tion, I’m quick to pounce.

L’Esperantine de Marseille is unique in many ways, the first of which is its bright green color that dis­tin­guishes it from the vary­ing shades of brown in the win­dows at the stalls all around the huge hall. I soon learn, thanks to the help­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tives of this small com­pany from south­ern France, that the dif­fer­ences are even more than what meets the eye.

Voulez vous goûter ? A taste?” A woman extends a plat­ter of green can­dies shaped like olive leaves cut in two to reveal a soft, white inte­rior. As I taste, she names the fla­vors that take a moment to come to mind, the com­bi­na­tion so unusual in a choco­late.

Amandes, écorces d’o­r­ange et men­the,” she offers. I allow the choco­late exte­rior to melt on my tongue as the fla­vors she has listed slowly make them­selves appar­ent: almonds, sweet and soft like marzi­pan with just enough tex­ture to know that the nuts them­selves are the main binder of the fill­ing. Next, orange peel, just bit­ter enough to play off the sweet­ness of the choco­late and the sweet­ened almond paste. Mint is last, just a hint, play­ing coyly off the green of the choco­late’s shell. I’m imme­di­ately crav­ing another, but the plat­ter has already moved to some­one else.

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Olive oil brings a note of nobil­ity that con­tin­u­ously enchants the palate.- l’Esperantine de Marseille

Bien sûr,” she con­tin­ues, ” l’huile d’o­live.” Olive oil is the last fla­vor, just vague enough to miss it until you know, and then there’s no deny­ing the ripe per­fume, the green fruiti­ness stand­ing up against the more tra­di­tional candy fla­vors. The woman draws my atten­tion to the posters that had faded into the back­ground of the bus­tle around the stall; it is, after all, for this ingre­di­ent that the Espérantine is most praised.

A piece of paper, posted out of the way of the dis­plays of choco­late olive leaves and smaller choco­late olives, informs me that the sweet won the Cordon Bleu award for best candy at the INTERSUC 2000 con­fer­ence in Paris. It’s not dif­fi­cult to see why. Made with­out preser­v­a­tives and from only the best ingre­di­ents, includ­ing almond paste, 70% dark choco­late, mint, almond, orange rind con­fit and, of course, olive oil, the espéran­tine is a candy the likes of which you’re not likely to find in your aver­age super­mar­ket or candy shop. Olive oil intro­duces both fla­vor and tex­ture while replac­ing typ­i­cal fats such as milk­fat, which are often used in choco­late man­u­fac­tur­ing, espe­cially filled choco­lates such as the Espérantine.

Perhaps even more impor­tantly, the olive oil con­tin­ues the theme of south­ern ingre­di­ents that the can­dy’s cre­ator, Francesco Martorana — hold so dear: it is, after all, olive oil that brings a note of nobil­ity that con­tin­u­ously enchants the palate.” The ele­ments of the now-famous Mediterranean diet come together in the con­coc­tion of the Espérantine, which Martorana cre­ated with the idea of unit­ing nutri­tion, health and taste. Espérantine there­fore con­tains only high qual­ity organic extra-vir­gin olive oil that is, like the most pre­cious of France’s
wines and cheeses, pro­tected under severe reg­u­la­tions and an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlé) ori­gin des­ig­na­tion.

The mak­ers of the Espérantine are just as care­ful in sell­ing their prod­uct, mak­ing sure that they always deal directly with the cus­tomers. It can there­fore be dif­fi­cult to get your hands on sam­ples of this del­i­cacy, espe­cially from abroad, but you can order the Espérantine in sev­eral dif­fer­ent pack­ages via the com­pa­ny’s web­site. One such pack­age, the Duo AOC, is the per­fect gift for olive oil lovers, as it comes not only with a pack­age of the famous can­dies, but also a bot­tle of gold-medal win­ning Chateau Vivant olive oil from nearby Aix-en-Provence.

At the Salon du Chocolat, small gift boxes of both the filled choco­lates and the smaller olives were stacked behind the counter for sale. I stared long­ingly at one of the pack­ages, con­sid­er­ing buy­ing one to take home to eat lux­u­ri­ously one by one, allow­ing the choco­lates to melt and reveal their lay­ers of fla­vors again and again. Luckily, the lady behind the counter caught my glance.

Voulez-vous goûter ?” she asked with a sly smile, as though she had­n’t noticed me star­ing at the dis­play cases from the moment she offered my first sam­ple just sec­onds before. I helped myself to another piece and closed my eyes as I allowed each fla­vor sen­sa­tion to wash over me once again: almond, orange rind, mint, choco­late, olive oil. Perfection.

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