Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rogue Chocolatier - Balao 75% bar - February 6, 2013

Chocolate of the Day: 

Rogue Chocolatier
Balao 75% bar
Very Good - Very Good+
Weight: 2.12 oz. (60 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 305 calories (estimate) for 1 bar
Cost: $ N/A - part of a Kickstarter campaign
Purchased from: Rogue Chocolatier via The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA -- part of a Kickstarter project

I'm delighted to kick off Chocolate and Ecuador Theme Week today with this dark chocolate Balao 75% bar from Rogue Chocolatier (Three Rivers, MA).

This past week, I savored the earthy, nutty flavors of cacao nibs. This week, with a focus on single origin bars from Ecuador, will be a study in subtle flavors from a country that straddles the equator -- right in the heart of cacao growing territory. (Cacao is generally grown within 20 degrees north and/or south of the equator.)

Rogue founder, Colin Gasko, launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to raise money for improved equipment -- to up the ante on what already were well executed single origin dark chocolate bars, that have routinely sold out quickly.

Colin is a bean-to-bar maker, an art that requires attention to detail, patience and technical skill -- from start (sorting dry, fermented beans upon arrival) to finish (ensuring bars are properly tempered, molded and packaged before shipping), with all important production steps in between. More work, but these new American makers, like Colin at Rogue, are producing some of the best small-batch dark chocolate in the U.S.

Judging from this simple, two-ingredient bar (made with cocoa beans from Camino Verde, Ecuador and cane sugar), the new equipment/process was a success. I received this bar from Batch #1 as part of the Kickstarter initiative (I was one of many funders). The bar maintained a smooth, subtle fruit acid flavor throughout the tasting experience, with a slight floral note at the very end. A very nicely balanced, and well-crafted bar. Uniform and still very interesting.

Recchiuti Confections - Feve bar - February 5, 2013

Chocolate(s) of the Day:

Recchiuti Confections
Feve bar
Weight: .75 oz. (21.25 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 120 calories in 1/4 bar
Cost: $5.99 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Paradise Foods, Corte Madera, CA

Today was Day #7 of Chocolate and Nibs Theme Week, and the first chocolate of the day was a Feve bar from Recchiuti (San Francisco, CA). Feve is a French word for bean or, in this case, many small pebble-sized pieces of unsweetened, roughly ground cocoa bean, or nibs, that hadn't yet been made into chocolate.

Cacao nibs gave this dark bar a crunchy, somewhat nutty texture. It was so richly textured with nibs, it was difficult to make out the stamped "R" and the name Recchiuti on the top side of this bar.

Nib hunt at Little Nib, Chocolate Lab

In search of more nib-related items from this chocolatier, I drove to San Francisco to investigate two new Recchiuti establishments.

The Little Nib and the Chocolate Lab (a few doors down from each other in the Dogpatch neighborhood of the City) opened last September and November (2012), respectively.

The former, Little Nib, was a small retail space that sold Recchiuti chocolates and bars. I knew I was in the right place, when the shop clerk pointed to a glass jar on the counter, with a metal scoop. The jar was filled with almond-sized, dark brown, dried cocoa beans -- where nibs originate. However, except for today's Feve bar, there were no other chocolates in the shop that featured cacao nibs.

So, I moved on to the Chocolate Lab, a cafe with both savory and sweet dishes, to have an early dinner. I've included pictures of part of a light, wedge-shaped piece of goat cheese souffle served with a pretty side salad and house-made pickled vegetables, and also a shrimp salad, just to prove that I occasionally eat something other than chocolate.

I also enjoyed an affogato with Recchiuti burnt caramel ice cream and espresso. But, let's face it, as tasty as these items were, I was here for the chocolate devil's food cake with the cacao nib infused foam on top.

The Chocolate Lab Cake was sitting in a mahogony-colored pool of coffee creme anglais, topped with a fluffy, subtly flavored nib infused foam, and sprinkled with caramelized nibs. A collar of bittersweet chocolate (printed with the words Chocolate Lab) encircled the cake and foam. I bypassed the cake part (couldn't have gluten), but throughly enjoyed the richly appointed adornments: foam, nibs, chocolate and sauce.

Thank you to the helpful staff who provided assistance with gluten-free options.

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