First it was wine, with wine tastings, wine snobs and wine-of-the-month clubs. Then olive oil, cheese and coffee followed into Mumbai's culinary consciousness.
Now the appreciation of fine chocolate is poised to become the next gastronomic parlour game for affluent Mumbaikars.
A brainchild of the Nagori brothers, Pavan and Pankaj, CVADO1502 (pronounced 'see-vah-doh'), a chocolate tasting club, will open its doors for business this October.
C' stands for chocolate, vado is Italian for 'I go', and the number refers to the year Christopher Columbus discovered cacao beans.
In its ongoing trial phase, the club has managed just enough members to convince the Nagoris to aim for a membership of 2,000 in Mumbai alone by next year -- and Pankaj Nagori says it will come to other metros in the next two years.
The club offers members a chance to sample the work of master chocolatiers across Europe, Germany, France and the UK.
Each month, a member will get a box of 10 different varieties of chocolates, two pieces of each, delivered to their doorstep -- pralines, ganaches, truffles and more.
"Only the finest creations of European master chocolatiers will be sent for sampling at CVADO," says Pankaj, adding that 'since these chocolates are free from artificial emulsifiers, they cannot be stored at room temperature. So, we send a set of instructions that need to be followed to store and consume the chocolates, along with a guide to tasting and a note about the origin.'
Pavan Nagori gave up his job with Deutsche Bank because he believed chocolate-tasting clubs can survive as a business. Based in London, he sources European chocolates.
The brothers claim to have tied up with several boutique chocolatiers across France, Europe, Germany and Belgium.
Every month a fresh batch of chocolates is shipped to India in special containers kept at controlled temperatures.
These are then dispatched to CVADO members.
"We have been timing our delivery and logistics in the trial phase, which includes door-to-door delivery in special cooling boxes that allows us to transport chocolates from Borivali to Cuffe Parade without ruining flavour or texture," says Pankaj.
Freshness is an important factor in the taste of chocolates, he explains. "Fresh chocolates, which we source, are best consumed when stored between 16°C and 22°C."
CVADO is hoping to introduce Mumbai not just to chocolate from many parts of the world but also to how chocolatiers create a flavour.
"As part of CVADO, members will have access to special events where international chocolatiers will show how chocolates are meant to be consumed, what food or beverages pair best with a particular chocolate and, more importantly, we will also host chocolate appreciation sessions," says Pankaj.
While he and his wife sample every single variety of chocolate that is shipped, he adds, "I have acquired the art of appreciating chocolates, including the raw materials used, like high-quality cocoa and natural ingredients, just a year back. But there's no going back to assembly-line milk chocolates for me now," he finishes.
Membership fees on request; monthly and yearly plans available.
Call 022-65111502 or visit www.cvado1502.com