Originally posted by Lady Godiva
thank you both… that box from Domori looks exceptionally enticing!
i’ll be sure to try a blend as well as single origins, and look forward to them all… I’m thinking that the Cluizel Mangaro looks interesting, and as for Amedei. Yeeek it’s hard to decide. But they too do a selection box, which is looking tempting right now!
“Selection boxes”, usually containing squares, are rarely a good proposition either from a value or a tasting point of view because squares are an awkward, insufficient format for tasting, and rarely do they give you enough squares in a box to make a fair assessment. I recommend, therefore, that you stay away from squares as a general rule and select rather reasonable-sized bars which make for a more fair evaluation. There are some exceptions. Amedei’s origins are only available in the squares format at least at present, so until they start producing bars (hint, hint) for the single-origins you’d have to get their tasting box.
The other, better, exception is Pralus. His Pyramide des Tropiques shows the other chocolatiers how to do it: 10 50g bars of different origins. 50 g is genuinely substantial and enough without question to make a fair comparison. Pralus also makes an interesting exploration of a particular style BUT you have to know up front that the flavours exhibit perhaps more of the characteristics of the style than the origin. Not that each isn’t distinctive and doesn’t say much about its origin, but still, the effects of the dark roast dominate everything else. Pralus would be an example of almost the diametrically opposed style to Valrhona. If you don’t want to fork out for the whole Pyramide, Venezuela is a good choice for the extreme example of roasting, while Djakarta is good as an exposition of how to match style against bean. It’s probably a little more accessible in flavour than the Venezuela, overall.
If you want to try a blended bar, I think Cluizel’s 72% is the best – because it gives you a good reference on a “neutral” chocolatey flavour, what a blend should probably be in any case. Mangaro IMHO isn’t really Cluizel’s best work – and besides, there are better Madagascars out there, unless we’re talking about the milk chocolate version.
Domori and Amedei are the other initial must-tries, I think. For Domori, there’s a difficult decision of what’s most representative of the Domori style versus what’s most representative of the bean, versus what one is the best overall. I think most representative of the style is perhaps Sur Del Lago. Most representative of the bean is perhaps Rio Caribe. Best overall is perhaps Porcelana. Any one of these would make for an interesting choice. As for Amedei, it’s a no-brainer. Get the Chuao and try to look the other way when the price is displayed.