Disappointed by Kee's Chocolates' appearances
Last week I stopped by for a dozen chocolates at Kee’s and discovered that she now offers shaped chocolates in addition to the round truffles that she has always made. I decided to try 10 shaped chocolates.
They all tasted good but suffered from a lack of attention to detail: on the bottom of one, there was a swirl pattern, as though the couverture wasn’t mixed right (just a guess—don’t know much about chocolate making); on another, the shape was smudged badly; and on a third, there were a few air bubbles.
I know I’m being picky, but at her prices, I expect perfection, and these weren’t perfect. One of the French pastry shops (P. Herme) I used to frequent while living in Paris gave away every single pastry to the workers that did not look perfect. His prices promise and deliver perfection. I thought I’d get perfection at Kee’s, but I didn’t.
I wonder if her three new apprentices means less attention to detail?
Anyone else had this experience?
I picked up a few chocolates there to snack on this past Saturday and I have to confess I didn't look at the bottoms at all. However, her pyramid-shaped champagne chocolate was one of the most delicious things I have consumed in the past six months.
She's had different shapes for quite some time. I know I've been buying them for over two years.
As far as her prices, I really don't find her that expensive. Vosges truffles and chocolates are more money per piece and don't taste nearly as good. I find them to have a mass-produced feel/flavor. Almost Godiva-like which I really can't stand.
Had a marvelous blood orange confit from Kee's a couple of weeks ago. Still need to hit it when she has the passion fruit and the balsamic.
Everything we bought looked fine but to be honest we ate them so quickly we barely stopped to inspect them.
If i had known she was looking for apprentices, i'd be breaking down her doors and asking to be accepted....
I'd never thought to inspect the chocolate before eating..if there were something objectionable, I'd taste it. So far I haven't had the need to spit it back out to inspect. ...only have had problem eating them too fast....
But then juxtaposing your ideas together..if Kee's gave away every single imperfect chocolate to her workers...I'd be filling out that application now..
I too never paid much attention to how they looked but really just focused on the taste - and like HLing, would have dismissed it on the basis of taste rather than aesthetics. I find Godiva chocolates look "perfect" but are not very satisfying when it comes to taste.
Of course I don't want them to look sloppy but at the same time I also take into consideration the fact that they are made in small batches and by hand so there might be some imperfections here and there. But as long as she continues to use the best ingredients (and doesn't discontinue making the balsamic chocolate!), I'll accept some smudges.
I also find criticizing the appearance kind of silly. Sure there's a craftsmanship to the appearance (Jacques Torres does have lovely designs on his truffles), but it's definitely just icing on the cake, which is the flavor quotient. One of my favorite chocolate lines from New England, L.A. Burdick, makes truffles that specifically look kind of small and uneven and homemade which add to their charm.
Her chocolates are good, partly because they are so fresh. I guess I'm the only person who considers aesthetics part of the experience.
I love Kee's and have endured long lines and cold weather for her delectable passion fruit and creme brulee wonders. However, I do agree that sometimes appearance does matter, especially if you are planning to give them as gifts (yes, sometimes I do have the strength to part with them). But I have seen her rush around her miniscule kitchen, making chocolates as fast as she can for her avid fans, so I can forgive the imperfections. Hopefully, whoever is the recipient of these lovely chocolates will also forgive the smudges and air bubbles after he or she tastes them.
I used to work at Godiva, where the chocolates came in about 3 or 4 months before we put them in the display case. Each truffle looked perfect and mass-produced.
I agree that appearance is essential - but if I'm looking to buy those very fancy decorated chocolates, I don't go to Kee's, I'll go to Richart or Chirstopher Norman, people who specialize in pretty chocolates. I go to Kee's for the flavor and the service. I've met Kee several times and she's a spectacular person.
If you were that bothered by the chocolates, I bet that if you took them back, she would have replaced them for you, especially if she was trying out something new.
p.s. In terms of price, I agree with CornFlake Girl. Kee's is actually one of the more inexpensive chocolate shops in the city. Trust me, I've pretty much tried every chocolate store in the city!!