David Hillel, 35, is apparently the only local chocolatier who has not opened a shop on Ibn Gvirol or Basel streets in Tel Aviv, Deganya or Mitzpeh Ramon. At his Herzliya factory, Deaches (his initials in French), David Hillel makes some of the country's finest chocolate - which happens to be among the hardest to find.
That is, at least, unless you exit Highway 2 at the Hasira interchange, and head toward the Beit Hamerkazim shopping center. There, at the Mizra delicatessen, Hillel markets his wares in elegant black paper boxes.
The effort is worth it: The chocolate bonbons are dipped, not molded.
"I don't prepare a chocolate base, fill it, and then close it. I prepare the filling, then I dip it in chocolate and wait for it to congeal," he says. "I also make sure to avoid overly dominant flavors: If I want anise, I'll go drink arak - I won't dip the chocolate in it. I like the chocolate to be dominant."
Hillel returned to Israel from France a year and a half ago, where he studied at the Cordon Bleu culinary school and attended several pastry-making seminaries before he realized he wanted to focus on chocolate.
"This substance instantly produces a smile of joy on people's faces. It challenges me. I meld a lot of flavors and textures into a small, minimalist square. It's not a layer cake, where you can easily pile flavors and textures on top of each other." Hillel's chocolates incorporate cardamom, mint, coffee, pralines, toasted almonds, tonka beans (a vanilla substitute), honey, spices and lemon. Bulk purchases must be ordered in advance.
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