I finally found a store that carries high end chocolate! The have Valrhone, Michel Cluizel, El Rey, Lindt, Ghirardelli, and Scharffen Berger. They also had Feodora, but from my experience they're chocolate isn't that great. Today I bought El Rey's Apamate and Gran Saman, Valrhona's Nor Amer, and Lindt's 70% and 85%. I didn't get any Cluizel because it was the most expensive and I didn't have enough cash. The Scharffen Berger only came in big slabs of 70% baking/eating chocolate. Are they worth my time? They didn't have a wide selection of Ghirardelli bars, so I didn't bother (Btw, Montegrano, they didn't have any dark Ghirardelli bars, so I couldn't check on that milk thing. You were probably right, though). I'm waiting for tonight to start testing them when I have more time and they can get to the right tempature and everything. Anyway, what bars do you guys reccomend from these companies and how do these compare with other bars? I bought ones that I recalled being praised around here and passed over other ones.
So I'm moving from Chocolove to these brands. Right now my favorite bar is Chocolove's 70% based on its very silky melt, though its a bit too fruity to eat too much of at one time. Very good, though. My favorite will probably change tonight.
Oh! Also, I have a lot of chocolate right now and need to store it. I have been wrapping it in tinfoil and putting it in airtight rubbermade containers. Is that good?
September 7, 2003
happy to hear the good news.
While I haven't tried every chocolate they carry, these are my current favorites from the different makers:
Michel Cluizel: Los Ancones
Valrhona: Ampamakia or Guanaja
Give us your reviews, ok?
What kind of store was it? What all did they carry?
Oh no! My Agustus!
August 1, 2006
You did very well so far with those selections. Try the Apamate right after the Gran Saman; although Apamate has a higher cocoa liquor percentage, it has more cocoa butter than Gran Saman which mutes the intense flavor. Gran Saman has less cocoa liquor, but the less amount of cocoa butter impacts the strength quite a bit, thus creating a more intense flavor. El Rey doesn't create the smoothest chocolate, but the taste is very good. Don't let the texture bother you when you eat the chocolate, otherwise you'll be ruining the experience. Also try El Rey's Icoa white chocolate, which is by far the best white chocolate around. If the store carries Valrhona's Guanaja, then get it; it's an amazing chocolate that is probably the pride of their entire line. Cluizel's 72% is another must, as well as Los Ancones (look at other threads of the forum for opinions of Los Ancones). If you like Valrhona's Amer Noir 71% (which is pretty fruity), then you should like Scharffen Berger, although the latter produces some of the fruitiest chocolate around. Scharffen Berger is definately worth trying, though; try it in a taste test with Valrhona's 71% and Cluizel's 72%. I wouldn't buy any Ghirardelli bars, btw, except for the two that I mentioned in another thread.
First of all, you should try the bars you have now (and other recommended ones) and don't eat too many different types at once, otherwise they might all start tasting the same. What other chocolate does this store have? For exploration purposes, try all brands, but you might want to start with the higher end brands so you know that you're getting good quality chocolate. Btw, Chocolove is not a bad brand either; they have wonderful chocolate. Try their organic 73%, which, is their best product.
Christ, I just typed a big post explaining everything, and it got erased forever... *Sigh*...
Anyway, I'll try again.
I still love Chocolove, Mont. I only mentioned them in order to remind everybody what I have been eating. They'll probably always have a special place in my heart for being by first good chocolate. ALTHOUGH, I did eat some of my 65% bar, which I loved, but it tasted waxy in comparison to these new brands. My mouth was clean, too. And I've been dying to try that organic bar, but Chocolove is out of chocolate due to the Belgians taking long vacations. I'll get one soon when the stores get new stocks in. I also really, really wanted to try El Rey's white chocolate, but due to my limited funds, I thought I'd stick to bars that I knew about. Plus I wanted to experience their dark chocolate. It's on my list for my next trip.
The store that I mentioned is a high class specialty store that carries a lot of exotic and imported foods. Wine, tea, produce, cheese, meat, chocolate, and so much more. I seriously just walked around drooling, especially at the tea, produce, and, chocolate. I'm such a huge fan of all kinds of tea, most fruits and vegatables, and, of course, chocolate. The only brands that I found were the ones that I mentioned (Valrhone, Michel Cluizel, El Rey, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Scharffen Berger, and Feodora). Their organization wasn't very smart. They had some eating chocolate in the candy isle, some in the baking section, and some on special racks spread throughout the store. Each time I walked through I saw something new. They also have a chocolateir that made little chocolates, and also all kinds of chocolate products. Boxed chocolates, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate beads, chocolate sticks, chocolate shavings, hot chocolate, chocolate this, chocolate that... Amazing store. My new favorite, I think.
Ugh... after loosing my other thread, I don't feel like typing much more. I had reviews typed, as well. Oh well. All I say is that the Noir Amer is an incredible chocolate. Very smooth, slightly bitter, fruity. It kind of reminded me of Chocolove's 70%, but without the slight candy overtone. Quite tasty, indeed. The Apamate is my favorite El Rey bar. The Gran Saman, for some reason, tasted good my first time eating, then tasted horrible on my second eating. I had a clean mouth, so I don't know. I'm kind of frightened to try it again. The Lindt bars are good. I can't say too much about them other than the fact that they're good. The 85% is a mindblast! I really like the strong bitterness, but it's not going to be a constant eating. Speaking of Lindt, they have cardboard to protect from breakage, but BOTH bars were snapped! Damn them.
That's my reviews in a nutshell. I can taste differences between the bars, but I'm not experienced yet with pinpointing exactly what those differences are. In time, I supposed.
Wow, the second post was longer than I expected it to be...
July 31, 2006
Sorry about losing your post. When I'm adding a really long one I do it in Word first, you never know exactly when the internet is going to let you down and destroy all your good work!
August 1, 2006
I lose my posts quite often as well. However, my problem is that when I type a post and click "post," I am asked to log in. When I log in, my post is lost, and I have to start all over again.
I knew you would like Valrhona because they are very well known for having a good texture. As I mentioned before, try their Guanaja bar; it's probably too good, if that's possible.
Try the Gran Saman again. It's definately a grittier chocolate than Apamate, but the flavor is much more intense. I suspect it's not the fruitiness that deters you but perhaps the texture or bitterness. To me, Gran Saman tastes more bitter, and Apamate has a more robust flavor, which could indicate a longer roasting time. Perhaps this is the reason why you prefer Apamate. Many times have my opinions been changed simply by tasting a chocolate more. Perhaps my palate adjusted to the chocolate or perhaps I actually grew a tolerance or taste for it. In any case, don't base your final judgments on just one tasting. Try it several times and see what happens.
Galler also uses cardboard in their bars, and all of mine were broken too. What's up with that irony? The bars with the least protection end up emerging unscathed, while their cardboard-protected brethren often suffer the most damage.
I wouldn't dream of abandoning the Gran Saman. I enjoyed it the first time, but that second tasting was just God Awful. It wasn't the bitterness; it was nothing that I've experienced before, especially in chocolate. I don't know... Maybe the water that I rinsed my mouth out with was old and dusty. Who knows. Anyway, I tried it again and I did enjoy it more. I'm not sure, yet, whether I enjoy the Gran Saman or Apamate more, but both are tasty. The Gran Saman is stronger, like you said, and they are a bit grittier than other chocolates, but I can handle that.
You know, the Gran Saman is now suiting itself to me. It has some pretty good notes that I seem to like. The Apamate is good, but I don't think I'll continuously buy it because there are other chocolates that I prefer. I just wish that I could better pinpoint the different tastes of the bars. I can tell that each bar is uniquely different, but I can't tell exactly WHY they're different with some of them. Oh well. With time, I suppose.
Here is my shopping list for my next trip.
Icoa white chocolate
Amer 72% (I don't think they have this one, actually. I don't remember seeing any in the 70's range)
Los Ancones 67%
And possibly Scharffen Berger if I can find any bars. They have their 70% and 99% in bigger quantities. I'll have to see where my cash is at because I also need to explore this stores wide array of tea and produce! Anyway, is there any other types I should consider? This list was done based on recommendations from around the board. Also, some bar recommendations for taste comparisons would be great as well. It will really help me learn more about the different tastes if I have a little guidance.
I bought the Guanaja, Amer, and Los Ancones today. The Ancones is such a unique chocolate. So many layers of taste evolving from start to finish from olive to lime, which is rather odd, but completly appropriate. Same with the Guanaja bar. Starting with a strong caramel taste and finishing with a dark coffee taste. I havn't tried the Cluizel 72% yet, but I'm anticipating it.
Even though the Guanaja and Ancones are very amazing, layered chocolates, I think the Amer Noir is my favorite. It's a great chocolate with interesting flavor notes, but it's not as busy as the other two. I can enjoy the Amer Noir more, while the Guanaja and Ancones just kind of leaves me slightly confused with all of it's evolution, especially the Ancones. I'll savor those two because A) they're so different and B) They're expensive!
(Stop posting over and over!)
I just tried the 72% Amer. It has a strong chocolate flavor with a nice taste of a tart berry. The aftertaste leaves kind of an unpleasant sourness, which I'm not enjoying right now. But it's good while it's melting! Valrhona's 71% is still my favorite and will probably be the most regurally eaten.
August 1, 2006
I found Cluizel's Amer Brut 72% a little bitter on the aftertaste as well. Not exactly the most pleasing aftertaste, but the flavor is incredible while the chocolate is in the mouth. It's not so fruity and acidic as Valrhona, but it tastes more robust. Los Ancones is definately a chocolate that should be savored sparingly so as to not spoil its unique flavor and taste experience. If you can, try Valrhona's Manjari, without the orange peel. You might have to buy a baking block of it, but it's really worth it. Although it's only 64%, it's still quite intense, and it doesn't have all those flavor nuances that Guanaja and Los Ancones do. I'm practically addicted to it now. I can't believe I overlooked it for so long.
They did have the Manjari with the orange peel. I remember it being mentioned here and thought that it was odd being recommended a flavored bar, not that there's anything wrong with flavored bars; I'm just seeking pure chocolate now. I remember seeing a big block of chocolate in the Valrhona section, but I didn't note the name of it. I'll check it out on my next trip, as well as Scharffen Berger and that Icoa white.
There are some strange things that I noted about Cluizel's bars. A) There are no nutrition facts other than ingredients on the wrapper. The only reason that I noticed was because I like to use the fat content as a guideline to how much cocoa butter is in it. I don't know how accurate that is, but I just like to compare. And B) He doesn't use lecithin in his chocolate and yet it is a smooth chocolate. The 72% doesn't even have any added cocoa butter. He must have perfected his development of chocolate, eh? Domori only uses cocoa and sugar, and they get great reviews! I'd really like to find some of theirs.
A side question:
How well do stores usually keep in stock of chocolate? Is there a time in the year that supplies dwindle, like maybe later in the year when the harvest is over? The only reason that I ask is because I grabbed this store's last Ancones and they were out of the Gran Saman and Lindt's 85% bar.
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