Saturday, November 19, 2016

Arete - Peru Phantom 70%; Dark Milk 58% bars - Nov. 19, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Arete Fine Chocolate

Peru Phantom 70% chocolate bar
Very Good
Weight: .8 oz. (22.6 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 120 calories (estimate) in .8 oz. (22.6 g.) of bar
Cost: $ N/A - sample from Arete Chocolate
Purchased from: Arete Chocolate, Milpitas, CA

Peru Nacional 58% Dark Milk Chocolate bar
Very Good
Weight: .8 oz. (22.6 g.) / 2.3 oz. (65 g.) in total bar
Calories: 120 calories (estimate) in .8 oz. (22.6 g.) of bar
Cost: $ N/A - sample from Arete Chocolate
Purchased from: Arete Fine Chocolate, Milpitas, CA

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Next week we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. I'm feeling thankful for sunny and cool weather this week, the good company of human and animal friends, and enough chocolates to last through the winter months.

...And, a few chocolate stories to share, such as the tale of the rediscovered Pure Nacional cacao in the Maranon Valley of Peru.

The Discovery at Maranon River Canyon
The story goes as follows: After 90+ years, Pure Nacional Cacao with a high percentage* of white beans was re-discovered in 2007 by Dan Pearson and Brian Horsley (of Maranon Chocolate), in Northern Peru, in the remote Maranon River Canyon.

Once grown in Ecuador, but wiped out by disease, this strain/variety that was thought to be extinct in Ecuador by 1920.

The find was confirmed by genetic tests. Stimulated by discovery stories like this, no less than Anthony Bourdain, and other experts, have made trips up rivers and into the jungles of Central and South America to find hidden, prized Criollo (light-beaned) cacao.

Meanwhile, the presumed extinct variety, presumably, had been quietly harvested in Peru for generations by local farmers, without much ado, but perhaps without full outside recognition of the higher quality stock.

Since the discovery, Maranon Chocolate has been working directly with farmers to select and develop high-quality beans to bring them to market—to craft and bean-to-bar chocolate makers. And, these beans have produced some fine bars.

Arete Peru Maranon Canyon bars
Peru Nacional beans also caught the attention of David and Leslie Senk in the San Francisco Bay Area, who were starting a bean-to-bar chocolate company—Arete Fine Chocolate.

And, today I'm featuring two Peruvian cacao bars from Arete Fine Chocolate (Milpitas, CA): the Peru Phantom 70% Dark Chocolate bar and the Peru Nacional 58% Dark Milk Chocolate bar.

The Arete 70% Peru Phantom bar had a wonderful dark chocolate aroma with hints of light spice, fruit and cinnamon raisin toast. The bar's even, lovely fruit flavor was reminiscent of a fine wine, and contained some of the best elements of a subtle but flavorful Criollo cacao. The bar had a smooth melt and even texture. This was a finely-crafted bar with uniformly very high-quality chocolate and no off flavors.

The Arete 58% Dark Milk chocolate bar was milk chocolate even dark fans might love. It had a faint milk chocolate aroma, but at the first creamy bite it exploded with full rich milk chocolate, light fruit (ripe sweet berries and peaches) and heavy caramel flavors. This bar was very enjoyable down to the last lingering hint of caramel. Yum.

I first tasted this dark milk chocolate at The Chocolate Garage when Arete owners/founders David and Leslie Senk visited there one evening. I loved it then, and just as much several months later.

*Roughly 40% white beans. Due to the way that cacao is pollinated, a mix of different cacao beans (white and purple) can occur within a field, tree, or even within each cacao pod.

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