Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bar of the Week: Pacari's Esmeraldas

While the vast majority of cacao originates close to the equator, the vast majority of chocolate manufacturers are based thousands of miles from the farms and plantations where their raw material is grown.  Pacari is one of the exceptions to that rule.

Quito-based Pacari produces chocolate from cacao grown in Ecuador by independant small farmers, which means that more of the chocolate-making profits stay in the country.  Pacari's chocolate is also certified organic and kosher. 

Pacari's single-region Esmeraldas bar is a 60% dark chocolate made from Arriba Nacional cacao.   In addition to cocoa solids and sugar it contains some additional cocoa butter and sunflower-derived lecithin as an emulsifier, but is dairy- and soy-free.  This fruity and floral chocolate has particular notes of banana and honey and a long finish. 

We'll be offering samples of Pacari's Esmeraldas on Saturday, September 4th.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel's Maralumi

Our tasting trip through Southeast Asia continues with Cluizel's Maralumi bar, a 64% dark chocolate named for the Papua New Guinean plantation on which the beans were grown.  Most tasters tend to pick up on notes of fresh and dried fruits, spice and smoke.  Cluizel's copywriters go a little further, describing the bar as mellow, with "slightly roasted and spicy flavors, fresh notes of green bananas and adiculated flavours of red currants prolonged by charming aromas of Havana tobacco leaves." 

Which charming notes will you detect?  Come by on Saturday, August 28th, to sample Cluizel's Maralumi--and let us know what you think!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bar of the Week: Askinosie's Davao

Our bar of the week is the dark Davao from Missouri-based Askinosie Chocolate.   Made from trinitario cacao grown in the Philippines, this 77% dark chocolate is the first Filipino single-origin bar.  It's yet another chocolate milestone from the trailblazers at Askinosie! 

By looking up the "choc-o-lot" number stamped on each bar on the Askinosie website, you can learn more about the timeline and formulation of a particular bar.  Askinosie constantly tinkers with its formulas to achieve a consistent product based on inconsistent natural ingredients. In the spirit of full disclosure, Askinosie notes that the current batch of 77% Davao includes 1% of cocoa butter made from the same Davao beans; the other 23% is organic sugar.  

Each Askinosie wrapper is adorned with a photo of the lead farmer responsible for the cacao inside.  The Davao bar features the smiling face of Peter Cruz.  These personal touches are a nod to Askinosie's close and direct relationship with the farming communities that grow its cacao. 

The Davao bar has won rave reviews, with tasters hailing its intensity and richness, and some comparing its fruity depths to those present in a well-aged red wine. 

Stop by for a sample of Askinosie's Davao on Saturday August 21st. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bar of the Week: Amano's Jembrana

Since Seattle is not getting much of a summer this year, we're sending our taste buds on vacation with a month-long celebration of chocolate from Southeast Asian origins.  Our current Bar of the Week is Amano's Jembrana, a 70% dark chocolate made from beans grown in Bali.  Jembrana boasts a rich but subtle chocolate flavor with soft notes of honey and fig.
Amano is an artisan chocolate maker located in Salt Lake City ("One of the highest-altitude chocolate manufacturers in the world!").  Amano chocolates are kosher-certified and although the company has not sought fair trade certification, it does pay its farmers well above markets rates for cacao. 

We'll be offering samples of Amano's Jembrana on Saturday, August 14th.  Come join us in virtual Bali!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bar of the Week: Pralus' Melissa

Our next Bar of the Week is Pralus' Melissa, chosen by Roxanne.  Melissa is a 45% milk chocolate made from cacao grown in Indonesia, where fresh cacao beans are often dried over fires.  It has the creamy texture you'd expect of either a good milk chocolate or a typical Pralus bar, along with an intriguingly smoky sweetness and aromatic notes of vanilla and caramel. 

Come by on Saturday, August 7th, for a taste of Pralus' Melissa.