In Belgium, home of the world famous ‘Belgian Chocolates’, I’ve taken up the challenge to share and show people the path to real chocolate, fine origin artisan cacao.
After a long while I decided to do so starting with the now infamous Choqoa Sampler packs, and also by organizing chocolate tasting events to have the means and moments to personally inspire people with “the food of the gods”. My first event took place some days ago and here’s how people responded to chocolate:
We were with a nice group of about 10. After some earlier small informal tryouts I took some learnings with me and started off with a small introduction on the sexy cacao tree, pods and beans, and briefly explained the making process. We had some good questions then on the differences with industrial brands like Callebaut and I showed some pics of the Amano Chocolate factory.
Mosts really appreciated this introduction, because the cacao tree is funny, sexy and full of secrets, and how often do you wonder yourself about the source of your food?
Off to the tasting then! I learned from Martin Christy, founder of SeventyPercent.com, to make a program instead of just grabbing for some bars, so I made small plates with chunks from all the bars to hand out. I also distributed some sheets to take notes and a tasting wheel to have some reference to our taste buds. All this helpst to take the clutter of the table and focus on tasting chocolate. The Amedei was a great opener to ‘set the bar’and we then moved on to plenty of other bars, the full list is below this post.
Time after time most were pretty intrigued by the variety of aromas and sensations, though they suggested getting some more guidance in what flavors they should detect. A good point to work on! I would also have put some more variety in the selection, I still had too many options, but off course it also depends on your stock as well.
One of the participants, Johan, is doing a great job in sharing the message for me and he brought me a fresh Amano Ocumare milk from San Fransisco. All of us were really surprised by this very untypical milk sensation; it’s a superb bar that gives a whole new level to milk chocolate. I’m leaving the idea of ‘percentages’ more and more and this bar proves it’s very very possible.
Those true discoveries were the better moments, and most likely everybody said to have had a very nice tasting experience and gladly returned home with their own chocolate bars.
Read on for details of all the tasted bars!
List & some details of tasted bars:
- Amedei La Tavoletta 70%
A good opener to introduce the idea of changing flavours and melting sensations
- Michel Cluizel ‘Mangaro’
This is to my experience a perfect entrance bar. Everybody likes it from the start for its freshness and mild citric flavors.
- Francois Pralus Colombie
I once thought this is the perfect served espresso coffee, just in the shape of a chocolate bar.
- AMMA 75%
- Francois Pralus Brésil
- Akesson’s Brésil
“The Brazil 3″: I gave these bars without revealing the details upfront, and have them pay attention to the differences amongst them. Only then I revealed that they were actually all from the same plantation owner, and even from the hand of the same chocolate maker, who’s helping out the other 2 brands as well.
The AMMA feels like a ‘nouveau Beaujolais’, jumping around flavors like a freshborn foal. The Pralus has more maturity and a balance on deeper aromas, and the Akesson first gives you the melt first but then all of a sudden flips over to spices.
- Bonnat Trinité
Everybody adores this grandmother style wrapper design, reminds them of their youth… Bonnat offered a sensation of smooth and creamy, with obviously an excellent melt.
- Amano Ocumare milk
As said above, it’s a superb bar that gives a whole new level to milk chocolate. I’m leaving the idea of ‘percentages’ more and more and this bar proves it’s very very possible. I really want more Amano!
- Francois Pralus Le 100%
Always have fun with this one, it upsets people! Along extreme facial reactions they discover this 100% tastes rather sour and hardly bitter at all. This Criollo bar also offers and intriguing reddish color.
- Francois Pralus Equateur (with Carn Mor Vintage Collection whisky, pairing 1)
- Francois Pralus Papouasie (with Carn Mor Vintage Collection whisky, pairing 2)
- Francois Pralus Chuao tablets
All in the end I treated a last piece of the new Pralus Chuao, for a last round of a very complex sensation.