Physical therapist-turned-chocolatier Raul Matias shook up the local confection scene with his Eurasian fusion gourmet chocolates. Most of his discoveries are borne out of curiosity such as his latest, Harold’s Cheese Bar, dark chocolate with blue cheese, from Malagos Farm in Davao. The subtle sweetness of the chocolate is tinged with bits of Blue Pepato cheese that is at once piquant and spicy.
“In cocktails, wine is often served with cheeses and chocolates. I thought about combining the two entrées,” he said.
“The flavor of the Blue Pepato cheese is strong because of the peppercorns. The slight saltiness brings out the intensity of the chocolate.”
Harold’s Bar is a tribute to writer Harold Geronimo who introduced him to Malagos’ gourmet cheeses. The bar’s logo is a golden mask, suggestive of the Masskara festival in Negros Occidental, Harold’s provenance.
Matias is working on the Naaz Curry Bar, milk chocolate bar with desiccated coconut and spices named after his niece. A spin-off of his Bombay Truffle laced with cardamom, it is like putting a chocolate version of the traditional chai or milk tea with spices.
Part of the marketing is that Machiavelli’s bars pay tribute to certain people. Benny’s Moroccan Bar is an homage to Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco, when the founder of Rustan’s was posted in Morocco. As the father of luxury retail, it is made with European dark chocolate with ras el hanout, a blend of exotic spices from the Middle East.
The Cory Bar, created for late president’s death anniversary last August, made front-page news. The paste is made from her favorite nut, cashew.
This Christmas, Matias is thinking out of the box by pairing imported beer with his chocolates. For instance, the light white beer, Hoegaarden, goes well with the fruity Ivorie Jack or langka pralines; the nuttiness of Rogue Brown Ale complements the Pistachio Royale; the earthiness of Rogue’s Oatmeal Stout matches the smoky flavor of Alfie’s Bacon Bar while the sweetness of Timmerman’s Creek Cherry Beer enhances the delicate flavor of the Jasmine Tea Praline.
Machiavelli Chocolatier became famous for Filipino nationalists for its Purple Yam Yum, or ube pralines, its Batangas Star, which is infused with barako and its fruit essence-infused Guava Asia, to name a few.
Matias pointed out that a popular imported brand is just ganache, a chocolate filling. Though velvety, it starts to melt in room temperature. On the other hand, his chocolates remain firm on the outside but smooth on the inside.
Aside from store sales, Machiavelli Chocolatier gets a lot of tweets from satisfied souls. “Sabi ni Mommy, ‘pag ’yung manliligaw mo ay may Machiavelli Chocolates, sagutin mo kaagad (Mommy said if the suitor brings Machiavelli Chocolates, say yes immediately).”
Celebrities tweeted their favorites. Karen Davila raved over Pistachio Royale; Cristalle Belo-Henares loved Alfie’s Backon; Anne Curtis described it as “delish”; and Pia Magalona tweeted that she had lots of favorites.
Machiavelli Chocolates are found in Rustan’s Essences and Rustan’s Tower. He hopes to be more visible in other Rustan companies.
On is success, he said: “I’ve always believed that I was not ordinary. This may sound cliché but chocolate making is about passion.”