Date
20 October 2017
There are two Venchi chocolate stores in Hong Kong, one in Central and the other in Tsim Sha Tsui. Hot chocolate freshly brewed in Italy, Venchi's home country, still tastes better. Photos: Venchi
There are two Venchi chocolate stores in Hong Kong, one in Central and the other in Tsim Sha Tsui. Hot chocolate freshly brewed in Italy, Venchi's home country, still tastes better. Photos: Venchi

Silky Italian hot chocolate

At a market in Bologna in northern Italy, we were greeted with the word “Venchi” on a sign board.

“I want a full cup of choco,” I said to the group.

It was important to stay on guard. I had a bitter experience at a Venchi shop in Siena in southern Florence not too long ago.

While my companions ordered gelato, I helped myself to a perfect cup of hot chocolate.

In Italy, few can resist a hot chocolate from Venchi, which has more than 6,000 branches nationwide.

I had my first taste of Venchi hot choco at Rome airport.

Initially, I was partial to gelato but having seen so many others sipping hot chocolate, I decided to try it, which turned out to be a brilliant move.

The shop we went to had a classy interior design, as well as a cozy and relaxing atmosphere.

It was easy to imagine a time when nothing would do for me except Ovaltine. My mother used to tell me that I would stop crying at the sight of a glass of Ovaltine.

I have outgrown that — and also Milo — and my beverages now run the entire gamut from coffee and tea to chocolate.

Interestingly, I learned that the must-order beverage in The Peninsula lobby is not coffee but hot choco.

To find out if a cup of choco is premium or not, fragrance and texture are the yardsticks. Sweetness is never a consideration.

The silky texture is an easier quality to achieve while the fragrance depends on the quality and the processing of the cocoa beans.

In addition, it has to be hot in order to fully yield the delicious scent. Remember not to order a cold choco.

That said, it is very difficult to encounter a premium-grade drink in Hong Kong.

My limited knowledge of the city might be to blame. Also, I usually develop an itchy throat, or worse, a real sore throat next day after a drink.

With a history of nearly 140 years in the making of quality chocolate, Venchi offers hot chocolate and Venchi cioccolato on the menu.

The former is a more typical milk chocolate drink while the latter is 85 percent cocoa.

As an espresso addict, I went for Venchi cioccolato, which was heavenly silky.

The Venchi shop offers cocoa powder for sale. The powder is dissolved in milk to get the full flavor.

My friends reminded me that there are a few Venchi branches in Hong Kong and treating me to a cup of hot choco would be a piece of cake.

But of course, although somehow, there’s something different when you drink it in Italy no less.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 15.

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/FC/RA

a veteran journalist and food critic

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