Where in Singapore to get a load of fine Italian chocolates.
What do you associate with Italy? Armani, Gucci, Ferrari, Maserati… Or perhaps an aromatic cup of cappuccino?
Yes, Italy is all that – and more. The land of fast cars and fine fashion is also home to some of the world’s most delectable dolci (desserts). And I don’t just mean tiramisu, tartufo or gelato.
I’m talking chocolates.
Surprised? Don’t be. Turin, the capital city of Piedmont in northern Italy, is actually the world’s first producer of solid chocolates. She’s also the birthplace of Italy’s much-loved bicerin (hot coffee with cacao and cream) and gianduja (a blend of chocolate and ground hazelnuts). By the 19th century, Turin’s cocoa confections were known to be so exquisite that chocolatiers from other parts of Europe would travel to Italy’s chocolate capital to hone their craft.
A pilgrimage to Turin should definitely be on the bucket list of true chocophiles, but until then, where in Singapore can one get a taste of good Italian chocolate?
The short answer: Venchi, which recently opened its first stand-alone store in the basement of Paragon (Unit B1-25).
Just three weeks old, the Paragon flagship store offers a wider selection of chocolates than its booths in Takashimaya and Marina Bay Sands. Here, you’ll find Venchi’s chocolate in numerous forms: gelato, truffles, pralines, nougatine, slabs, bars, dragées, “cigars”, spreads, liquer, and more.
Founded in Piedmont in 1878, Venchi is a gourmet chocolatier that prides itself for using top-notch ingredients, namely, cocoa from sustainable plantations in Latin America and Africa, pistachios and almonds from Sicily, hazelnuts from Piedmont, and olive oil from Liguria.
Venchi uses fresh nuts, cocoa butter and olive oil in place of animal butter and cream, which give their confections a distinctively light, smooth, and non-cloying finish.
Venchi’s dedication to quality and innovation was recently celebrated at the 2017 Paris Gourmet Selection – an annual gastronomy trade show – where the Venchi Tiramisu topped the Saveur du Monde (Tastes from the World) category. Since 2010, Venchi has been collaborating with the Armani group to craft fine chocolates for the Armani/Dolci dessert line.
If you’re trying Venchi confections for the first time, you won’t go wrong with their Cremino, which comprises a layer of white chocolate and almond paste between layers of milk and dark chocolate gianduja. Those who prefer their cocoa confections dark and bitter will enjoy the Chocaviar – a praline with smooth dark chocolate filling coated with two layers of dark chocolate, and studded with 75% chocavier granella.
Venchi’s gelato is also a must-try and – if you need another reason to indulge – the perfect antidote to Singapore’s inexorable heat. The best flavours, in my opinion, are Pistachio, Cremino and Cuor Di Cacao. They’re named in ascending order of flavour intensity, so just pick the one that suits your craving.
Exclusive to the Paragon store are freshly made crepes topped with Venchi’s Suprema chocolate spread. Made of chocolate, Piedmont hazelnuts, and olive oil, the uber smooth Suprema spread also comes in a 300-gram take-home jar. And yes, I checked; it glides on fresh toast like a dream.
With an array of attractive packaging options available, Venchi treats make great gifts too. As the chocolatier celebrates its 140th anniversary this year, beautiful limited edition gift boxes are also currently available.
And, if you’re in the market for unconventional mooncakes this mid-Autumn festival, Venchi offers some seriously chocolaty, gluten-free options that your chocoholic family and friends will love.
Images courtesy of Venchi. Additional images by author and Curatedition.