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A SPECIAL FEATURE FROM SCOTLAND'S ONLINE TOURIST GUIDE
Hands up all those who know what a Velvet Truffle is. A small chocolatey
thing filled with some sweet brown stuff? Something pigs unearth from
woodland with their snout? An unknown word popular with poets as it
rhymes with snuffle? Well, prepare to be informed.
Iain Burnettt knows what a truffle is. He is an Artisan Gourmet
Chocolatier. And in The Highlands of Scotland he makes Velvet Truffles
of such quality that these award-winning chocolates are supplied to
Michelin-rated and 5-star chefs. Until you taste one of Iain Burnett's
Velvet Truffles you will never fully appreciate the amount of happiness
that your mouth can provide, or what a real Velvet Truffle truly is.
The thing is, you see, there is chocolate, and there is chocolate. Apart
from the obvious differences between some chocolates, in that some
chocolate is broon, while other chocolate is less broon - white, for
example - there is in fact some chocolate out there that's not really
very chocolatey. Some of it's perhaps not even chocolate at all, even
although it goes under that name.
So, before we dig ourselves a very deep bottomless pit that we will
struggle to crawl out of, what exactly is 'chocolate'?
According to my Chambers Dictionary, a vast paper tome which I
rely on for so much in my life, 'chocolate' is 'a paste made of the
ground seeds of Theobroma cacao (cocoa), with sugar and flour
or similar material.'
Now, right away, you can see that that definition may cover a whole load
of things; a whole multitude of sins, even. Because while cocoa clearly
has to be a part of chocolate, it may also contain sugar and flour or 'a
similar material'. Hmm. What's similar to flour? Dust?
Plaster of Paris? Chalk?
Real chocolate is a very rare thing. Real chocolate made in Scotland is
about as rare as... em... the rarest thing you can imagine, if your
imagination is better than mine.
Let's start with the clothes-on chocolates (Enrobed chocolates). These
include ORANGE SUNRISE (whole, half and quarter slices of tangy
crystallized real orange in chocolate), STRAWBERRY TRUFFLE (pure fruit
coulis infused with star anis), LIME TRUFFLE (tangy lime and chilli
crush in white chocolate), and many many more.
As far as the un-enrobed chocolates are concerned, this is where we
return to the Velvet Truffle that has become Iain Burnett's signature
truffle. It is made from fresh Scottish cream blended with a unique
cocoa from Sao Tome. It has taken literally years to get the required award-winning
balance of flavours for which The Highland Chocolatier is so well known.
The Velvet Truffle is best served naked (I have a written guarantee that
when you visit Legends of Grandtully, Iain Burnett and his staff will
all be fully clothed... it's the truffle that's naked!). However, you
can get it coated in chocolate if you wish. You can even get it dusted
with stuff like rose petals, red raspberry powder, or whatever.
Whatever you choose, just make sure that at least once in your life you
try one of Iain Burnett's Velvet Truffles.
So, let's get down to the nitty gritty. Good chocolate comes generally
from one type of cocoa bean from one location. Of course, not just any
old bean and not just any old location.
All these things matter.
Regular 'chocolate', or that made by the multinational chocolate makers
to be consumed by the masses is generally blended from a variety of
beans that come from a variety of places. It is often mixed with fats,
flavourings and preservatives. Ninety-nine per cent of all chocolate is
made from these poorer quality ingredients.
Gourmet single-origin chocolate, on the other hand, like that made by
Iain Burnett in the Highlands of Scotland, makes up an exclusive one per
cent of the market. In other words, very few people get to taste real
chocolate during their lives.
The difference between real chocolate and the stuff Joe Public
thinks is real chocolate is akin to a well-matured Scottish single
malt whisky and a poor blend of Scotch. There is just no comparison, and
until you taste the good stuff, you will never know what you're missing.
Right then, now that we've got a better idea of what real Scottish
chocolate is, what exactly does Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier,
do with it? Well, some chocolates are served enrobed (they have a
coating of chocolate around their heavenly centre - dark or milk
chocolate), and some chocolates are served un-enrobed (this is a naked
chocolate!). We're not just talking mouth-melting tastes to die for,
we're also talking nae-clothes-oan!
Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier, is based, along with Legends of
Grandtully, in the Scottish Chocolate Centre in Grandtully. The centre
is open between 10am and 5pm seven days a week. Their telephone number
is 01887 840775. As well as wall-to-wall chocolates, there is an
exhibition on gourmet chocolate, a cafe, and gifts for sale. The small village of Grandtully is located on the A827
road between Pitlochry and Aberfeldy. You can get a bus (two buses,
actually - change at Ballinluig) to Grandtully from Pitlochry. Pitlochry
can be reached by rail from Glasgow.