Monthly Archives: May 2008

Guest Blogger #3 — Divine

My wonderful friend, Melanie, was kind enough to write a review of the Divine Dark Chocolate 70%. This woman is a rock star on many levels. She is a mother of one, lives in a small mountain town (as she lovingly calls it), and is a graduate student of soils. We go way back to our undergrad days. One of my favorite memories with her is our weed-collecting excursion for one of her class projects. She was ambitious with her collecting (50 weeds total?) and only needed a few more. Weeding with a purpose sounded great to me, so I joined her. We started at the top of a nice big hill with a broad span of weeds. Within minutes I realized I was deeply uninformed about weeds and would not be much help in the search. No thanks to me, she completed her collection. Besides being an expert in molds, weeds, and soils, she has a cultivated taste for dark chocolate…and black licorice, but that’s a different entry entirely. The following is her opinion of Divine’s Dark 70%.

I was pleasantly surprised when I first bit into the Divine 70% bar that it didn’t crumble at all, but melted on my tongue releasing a smooth flavor. Simple and delicious. While I can only eat bits of some dark chocolates at one time, I could eat an entire bar of Divine 70%. It would be a good chocolate for those who teeter on a preference of medium and dark chocolate. That Divine is the first farmer-owned fair trade chocolate makes it taste even better.

Thanks, Melanie! Hope to see you soon!

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Byrne & Carlson Part Deux

The folks at Byrne & Carlson were extremely helpful when I ordered these treasures over the phone. Also, who doesn’t enjoy receiving chocolate on ice by mail at the office? The bars and these beautiful Chipitos shot in my favorite bowl above arrived in perfect condition.

The Mendiant bar was wonderful. When I ordered this, I thought back to the violet candies I sampled in France—very floral. I thought I would experience more of the floral hints from the sugared pansies, but they were more like delicate sugary flakes that melted in my mouth. All the other bits were a great combo with this bar too—cranberries, almonds, and walnuts. These bars, however, were definitely more similar to confectioner’s chocolate than they were to other origin bars. They don’t have the same complexities.

The bars are so artfully designed. I was just as curious about the front as I was the back when I ordered these. Voilà!

This was my favorite as far as the confectioner’s chocolate goes. The combination of dark and white chocolate—and wonderful chocolate at that—was the best out of the three sea creature flavors. Aside from being incredibly smooth, it’s gorgeous! A wonderful gift bar.

The French 68 was the closest to other origin bars among the three. I’m not sure if it was the sea salt that highlighted the fruity notes, but they were certainly there. The sparkling salt pieces were a perfect accent.

When I asked the Byrne & Carlson people about their best sellers, they named Chipitos as one of the most popular. I REALLY loved these spicy chocolate drops. The texture comes from cacao nibs and the aftertaste is more of a spicey warmth—lasting. Warming chocolate is always a good idea, right?

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Chocolate Is Gold

It’s been a busy week…and it continues! Short and sweet, here are the details about Cadbury’s latest. No, Cadbury is not exactly the dark chocolate we adore so, but I like this article because it discusses next steps for larger chocolate companies as they try to predict where this “booming $80 million dark chocolate market–which has been growing at more than 30% a year”–is taking us. Have a great weekend!

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Mother’s Day Milk Chocolate and Apricot

My mom has not yet converted to the land of dark chocolate. She does like milk chocolate, though, and apricots. So I’m hoping she’ll like these ingredients combined in the Crave bar that I mailed to her for Mother’s Day. With it, I also sent my dad my current fav, Cluizel’s Maralumi. Hopefully my mom will give that one a taste too and experience chocolate in its full glory. I know she’ll at least appreciate the distinct difference between the flat, bitter, and waxy dark she’s sampled in the past and Cluizel’s origin bar. Enjoy, mom and dad! Robert and I send you lots of love from the East Coast!

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Patric v. Patric

I had a lucky Saturday last weekend. Until then, my efforts to go to Biagio were thwarted several times, one obstacle being that I forgot my wallet! Thank goodness I remembered this before making it to the shop and picking out all the new and old fav bars I was looking forward to sampling and reviewing. When I finally did make it there on Saturday, I was delighted to discover they had the new Patric bar.

Reaching for the new 67% bar, I realized I wasn’t totally decided on whether I should purchase the new or the old. Aside from being fantastic chocolate, the old 70% Patric bar is known for only having two ingredients: cacao beans and pure cane sugar. It had been a while since I sampled the illustrious two-ingredient bar. Did I even remember how it tasted? Would the 3% difference even matter? The old and the new are both even from the same Sambirano region of Madagascar. One of the only distinctions between the two was that the new 67% bar now listed three ingredients: cacao, pure cane sugar, and (as they put it online) “just enough cocoa butter (about 3.75%) to perfect the luscious texture.” Would there be any difference in that? I asked the Biagio experts which one was better and we decided to actually make it my assignment to compare the old 70% and the new 67%.

Robert and I sampled the two bars. Then we decided to blind sample them, and we came up with the following details and the discovery that, yes, there was a difference in that 3%:

PATRIC 70%

tangy
strong
leather
berry
crossing back and forth between olive and fruit
chalky
lighter toward the end
molasses

PATRIC 67%
immediate fruit flavor
fig
cream
fruity finish
caramel
raisin
fantastic aroma

We determined that the 67% was a little more delicate, lighter throughout than the 70%. Overall, I would say the 67% is tops between the two. Thank you to the folks at Biagio! I really enjoyed comparing the Patrics, new and old.

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Bonnat Chuao

Finally, the Chuao from Bonnat. Several months ago, I sampled the bar voted number one for the last two years–Amedei’s Chuao. As noted on Amedei’s site, this chocolate is unique because of its origin. Chuao is a remote village plantation in Venezuela. Beyond being unique, there is a Chuao mystery; while Amedei claims exclusive rights to Chuao plantation beans, Bonnat shamelessly features a bar from the very same origin. I’ve heard several theories, but I thought this blog entry summarized them well.

Whether Bonnat has a right to Chuao beans or not, they still make a beautiful bar with wonderful complexity. I would say that the Amedei bar is still tops on my list, but I wonder if part of that has to do with its fame. Bonnat’s Chuao is fantastic and I certainly prefer its package art over Amedei’s.

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Chocolate May Reduce Pregnancy Complication Risk

Robert and I really enjoyed sampling the bars we purchased this weekend at Biagio. I am super busy right now, though, and will have to post photos and reviews later today/this week. For now, I recommend this article. Happy beautiful day!

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