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Chocolate Week: Chocolate and Love tasting, 15 October
October 16, 2010
11:18 pm
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 283
Member Since:
October 13, 2009
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After an untimely flu, my first Chocolate Week event ended up being later in the week than desirable, but with outcome somewhat better than desirable. This was Chocolate and Love's tasting (and company intro) in London on the evening of 15 October. C&L (http://www.chocolateandlove.com) put on a nice event with the promised highlight a preview of a new Bolivian wild chocolate from small producer Bojesen.

It turned out the vast majority of the audience was a single tour group, which meant that the tasting took on perhaps inevitably some of the characteristics of a packaged private tasting session, but the chocolates were well worth the effort. When I arrived the party was already underway, so to speak, but I didn't miss any of the real fireworks. They were going through Original Beans, who have various chocolates, fairly obviously Felchlin remoulds, whose qualities were nice but not extraordinary. After that, they moved on to Beschle - this may not be a company all have heard of - they have an interesting range including a Porcelana and Ocumare. As it happened, the one we tried was Amazonia, not necessarily fantastic, but not bad. I have personally tested both the Porcelana and the Ocumare, however, and can attest that they're considerably better.

Next up was Amedei, to give people a sense of better chocolate; perhaps for those in the majority of the group unfamiliar, but an old friend, no doubt, to all on this site. They then moved on to a newer friend, but surely one that people here will know: Pacari. I have to say that their corporate philosophy is exactly what I consider the ideal of perfection in a manufacturer: obsessive, committed to building local expertise in the growing country, dedicated to improvement, constantly of a mind to experiment, and with a properly scientific approach. The chocolate, meanwhile, is MUCH improved over the earliest versions; I was very impressed with the progress with the Manabi. I expect great things from this company in future.

Eventually, they got to the real interest, the bars from Friis-Holm and Bojesen. The Bojesen, which I'd expected to come last, was actually first in the "climax" group. Now, small tastings are inevitably preliminary, and I'd need to try more to know more, but my initial reaction is: very nice, but not mind-blowing. It had the sort of classic fruitiness of Felchlin's Cru Sauvage, and a darker, more Amedei-like depth. Apparently, however, these are only the prototype samples; more and reputedly better release-edition bars are on the way from Bojesen: I'll put up the review when available!

Then there were the Friis-Holm chocolates. Initial reaction: mind-blowing. These are amazing chocolates, just completely in another depth compared to everthing else tried. Emphasis is on the dark, liquorice-like flavours. I got all 3 bars: reviews coming shortly!

Chocolate and Love also do Lakrids liquorice. Personally, I love liquorice; needless to say it was very addictive. From the reaction of others in the audience I'm reminded again, however, that it's a substance you either love or hate!

Afterwards there was plenty of time to chat, and taste, as appropriate, and a surprise guest: a pair from Poland showed up with the first Polish artisanal bars. What was that chocolate like? To be honest, a work in progress. But how often is it that you try *any* chocolate from Poland?

C&L will be expanding their range, mostly as I understand it with brands not usually found in this country in any outlet; they look like an exciting venture, surely the most interesting online chocolate shop in the UK.

Still to come: Chocolate Unwrapped!

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 2, 2010
5:25 pm
Scott--DFW
Dallas, USA
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Forum Posts: 74
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October 26, 2006
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Alex_Rast said:

Then there were the Friis-Holm chocolates. Initial reaction: mind-blowing. These are amazing chocolates, just completely in another depth compared to everthing else tried. Emphasis is on the dark, liquorice-like flavours. I got all 3 bars: reviews coming shortly!


Very interesting.  Are they bean-to-bar?  I can't really tell from their web page, but it sounds like they might be sourcing the beans and letting a third-party (i.e., a "family-owned chocolate factory in southern France") process them.  (Could it be Bernachon?  That's where Steinberg apprenticed.) 

Scott

November 3, 2010
3:17 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 283
Member Since:
October 13, 2009
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Scott--DFW said:

Alex_Rast said:

Then there were the Friis-Holm chocolates. Initial reaction: mind-blowing. These are amazing chocolates, just completely in another depth compared to everthing else tried. Emphasis is on the dark, liquorice-like flavours. I got all 3 bars: reviews coming shortly!


Very interesting.  Are they bean-to-bar?  I can't really tell from their web page, but it sounds like they might be sourcing the beans and letting a third-party (i.e., a "family-owned chocolate factory in southern France") process them.  (Could it be Bernachon?  That's where Steinberg apprenticed.)
 

Scott


I am still awaiting definitive information on this. Looking at the bar, one can make some guesses, but I don't think it's reasonable to speculate.

It would be nice if chocolate-makers would identify their manufacturing source (whether them or a third party) on the bar, although I imagine some 3rd party manufacturers prefer not to be named. But it would really help to disambiguate the situation. I see the following classes emerging:

 

1 Fully bean-to-bar made with beans sourced by the manufacturer through direct plantation relationships.

2 Fully bean-to-bar made with beans sourced by the manufacturer on the general cocoa market.

3 Made from liquor manufactured by a third party with maker sourced beans

4 Third-party manufactured with maker sourced beans

5 Made from liquor manufactured by a third party from third-party sourced beans

6 Maker blended from third-party manufactured couverture

7 Branded bar or remoulded couverture

 

And there may be more with time! Categories aside, however, the Friis-Holm bars are stylistically so distinct and so distinctly different from other companies that from a practical point of view they may be considered an "original contribution".

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 6, 2010
2:01 pm
RedStar
Grimsby, United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 39
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January 4, 2009
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I've spent a long time thinking about this over the last couple of years - mainly in the run-up to setting up Red Star. My question was "how do I let everyone know that I make chocolate from the beans?". After many attempts at wording for the wrappers I realised that 75% of people who are likely to buy my chocolate are unlikely to care who made it, how it was made or anything else. Maybe I am too pessimistic, and when I do shows such as Chocolate Unwrapped and local Food Fairs people are more interested in provenance than I thought they woud be.

I decided that those who care enough about bean-to-bar will find out by looking at my web-site. There are many issues to face - especially ethical sourcing - and some of these have impact on the marketplace. In the end I think it comes down to taste. If it tastes great then you are likely to buy a bar and come back and buy another. If it tastes great and people realise that you are trying hard to build a link to farmers and pay some kind of attention to their livelihoods and conditions then it might help sell more bars but I do it so I can sleep at night - and, for example, I carry on using Fairtrade sugar even though they don't let me list it on the ingredients.

Now that the business is up and running I make chocolate from beans and I also make chocolate from Fairtrade liquor. I make no secret of this fact and mention it in my publicity material, such as it is. I am not convinced that where you roast the beans or grind them matters if you have control. That is why I want beans - so that I have control. If someone can show me that there is absolutely no difference between my roasting and them being roasted in the country of origin (allowing more money to stay in a poor country) then why would I object? The taste of the chocolate is the same and the local community generates a little more income.

So, if the chocolate tastes good and you approve of the makers' ethical standards then please support them. We should be encouraging more people to make chocolate, however they find that they need to do it. We should be encouraging more people to make the link between the price of chocolate and the conditions of the farmers, and then to use their purchasing power wisely.

Right, back to work to start a new batch of chocolate off then back to watch F1 qualifying.

Duffy

RedStar

Chocolate Week: Chocolate and Love tasting, 15 October | General Discussions | Forum