Monday, October 10, 2016

Barlovento - 80 percent Venezuelan Dark Chocolate bar - Oct. 10, 2016

Chocolate of the Day: 

Barlovento Chocolates
80 percent Venezuelan Dark Chocolate bar
Good++ - Very Good
Weight: 1.2 oz. (34 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 2/5 bar
Cost: $6.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Barlovento Chocolates, Oakland (Farmers Market), CA

Today's Extra Dark 80 percent Venezuelan Dark Chocolate bar was from Barlovento Chocolates (Oakland, CA).

Barlovento offers chocolates bars and confections "with a farmers market aesthetic" that are made from single source 100 percent cacao, from one region of Venezuela. Inclusions include herbs and fruit that one might find in the (Oakland) farmers market where I bought this bar.

For an ultra-dark bar, this chocolate was very smooth and pleasing, full of fruit aroma and flavor. It also had lower acid, astringency and/or bitterness than you might imagine for an 80 percent bar.

This extra dark bar had a pleasant, sweet, almost spicy, dark chocolate aroma with light dried fruit notes (ranging from cherries and figs to pears and apples). However, again, this subtle 80 percent bar wasn't as rambunctious as it sounds. All these flavors/flavor notes were all very well balanced.

SOMA - Milk Old School and (Dark) Old School - Oct. 9, 2016

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Milk Old School
Venezuela - 38 percent cacao
Batch MOS60305.0
Very Good
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 3.18 oz. (90 g.) in total package
Calories: 159 calories (estimate) for 1/3 package
Cost: $15.00 (estimate) for 1 package
Purchased from: The Chocolate Garage, Palo Alto, CA

Old School
Papua New Guinea - 66 percent cacao
Batch OSP60330.0
Good ++
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 3.18 oz. (90 g.) in total package
Calories: 159 calories (estimate) for 1/3 package
Cost: $15.00 for 1 package
Purchased from: Cacao at The Heathman, Portland, OR

Today was Day #9 of Chocolate and Venezuela Theme Week; and after nine days of eating Venezuelan Criollo cacao, I'd become lulled into a sense of what chocolate should taste like: balanced, flavorful, yet smooth and full of subtle fruit nuances, and low in astringency.

In fact, today's SOMA Chocolatemaker's Milk Old School - Venezuela 38 percent cacao chocolate was just that, and more. Three ingredients (partially ground Chuao cacao nibs, milk, and whole crystals of organic cane sugar) were ground together in a melangeur*, and the innovative result was a chocolate bar that had the satisfying consistency of a rich, chocolate cookie. And it was delicious.

So, if the 38 percent cacao version of this rustic "old school" milk chocolate was good, the 66 percent cacao dark version (using cacao from Papua New Guinea) would be even more amazing, right?

However, as I bit into the latter, I was abruptly transported from the mythical, mystical world of Venezuelan cacao, around the globe, to the flavor opposite of its Milk Old School sibling. The Old School 66 percent had the same novel, cookie-bar texture, but the aroma and flavor were powerful, earthy, unapologetic, unsubtle, bold; and the bar had some wine and slightly sour ferment notes. Wow. Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore.

I recommend trying both these bars, side-by-side. You'll not only be enjoying two great chocolates; you'll also experience the differences in single origin cacao, and what the addition of milk can do.

*Melangeur is French word that translates roughly into "blender" in English. In this case, it's a piece of vintage equipment that was used to blend/grind down and mix roasted cacao nibs with sugar, resulting in minimally processed cacao with more retained flavor.
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