Thursday, May 14, 2020

Francois Pralus - Chuao - 10 degrees 29' N. 67 degrees 31' O. (bar) - May 14, 2020

Chocolate of the Day:

Francois Pralus
Chuao (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1.476 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 292.5 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $13.00 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Missing information

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Venezuela Theme Week.

Today's "Chuao" chocolate (bar) was made in France by Patisserie Chocolaterie Pralus s.a.s. (aka Francois Pralus). 

"Chuao" is a spare yet evocative one-word name for a bar. Chuao, located in northern Venezuela, is a remote village known for great cacao (and fishing). The word Chuao was accompanied by a precise set of geographic coordinates--10 degrees 29' N. 67 degrees 31' O. (West), that accentuated the importance of place. With cacao, wine and other exalted food and beverages, origin, place and terroir are reverently discussed. The rich volcanic soils, the climate and rainfall. These and other factors might contribute to great flavor, or may be characteristics that make a product more valuable.

The story printed on the packaging for this Chuao bar read (in part) as follows:

"West of Caracas,Venezuela, there is a mythical village. Accessible only by boat,* the village of Chuao is bordered North by dense tropical forests, in the South by the Caribbean Sea. For generations the cocoa grown in this region has been celebrated for its exceptional qualities. A unique terroir, an ancestral know-how, a traditional drying method makes this Criollo cocoa the most wanted worldwide..."

The Chocolate Behind the Story
OK, that's a great story; and I would like to visit this storied place one day.* But how was the chocolate?
This chocolate had an appealing, rich dark chocolate aroma with balanced molasses, tart mild dried fruit and faint fleeting green and almost smoked (maybe very faint roasted espresso) notes. The texture and melt were relatively smooth. There was a minuscule amount of astringency.

The balanced flavor profile was similar to the aroma notes. There was no harsh bitterness, in fact, there was very little bitterness at all. I enjoyed the sweet-tart, balanced dried fruit flavors (peaches, cherries). And there was enough dark chocolate complexity for an interesting flavor ride. A 70 percent version of this bar might have seemed too sweet. The choice of 75 percent cacao worked well. 

A subtle clean finish lingered politely. This chocolate was consistently (sorry to be repetitive) subtle yet flavorful and well-balanced all the way through. It was consistent in its complexity...a seeming contradiction, and a delicious truth.

Does thickness matter?

The thickness of certain chocolate bars can influence one's tasting experience and rating. A thicker bar can make it more difficult to access certain flavors, especially in a cold room/environment. I tried shaving off some shards and sampling those; and in fact the fruit flavors did seem a bit more readily accessible and identifiable. (A smaller, thinner piece also melts faster.) And with more subtle, complex bars I find my palette leaning in, wanting to more attention to subtleties. Try a thinner piece if you want to really "listen" to fine flavored cacao.

Ingredients: 75% cocoa, sugar, pure cocoa butter, GMO-free soya lecithin

*I would love to visit Chuao. It is accessible via boat but then you have to hike for another 5 km to get there, or take a wild ride in on a jeep/car/truck. There is also apparently a two and a half hour bus ride available from Caracas, Venezuela; but there are travel restrictions in place now (as of this writing in May 2020) due to Covid-19.

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