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tasting
September 6, 2004
9:44 am
alex_h
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i know this subject is open somewhere here, but thought a topic would be suitable.

i am planning a tasting for my birthday in november and am looking for good advice. how many people? how much per person? what clears the palate best? time of day? how many different bars? how expensive can this get? and any other questions that you might think of answering…

<<ce qui fait du bien au palais ne fait du mal à l’âme>>

September 6, 2004
11:35 am
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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Clearing palate: Sparkling water! Avoid alchohol and juice, it tastes too much.

Use five or six differenet chocs, from the dark forastero and mocha up to the fruity. The chocs should be distinctly different in taste, so the tasters can experience the full width of cocoa tastes.(When I pass around a bar of good choc to friends who are not familiar with it, I often receieve comments that they never thought pure choc could taste so furity..or “strange” as some put it[;)])

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic…

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
September 6, 2004
1:34 pm
chocolatero
london
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Hello

We run tastings regularly at our shop
I assume you want bars only?
I would suggest max 12 people, 6-8 bars. You only need small
pieces for everyone!
Still or sparkling water is better.

We tend to start with a explanation of growing followed by taste of a cocoa bean, cocoa mass pure and cocoa butter so that people understand the components. (if you are in the UK, we can try to get you some). Also during week of chocolate week we will be selling FRESH cocoa pods! Worth trying and very hard to find FRESH.

then start with a bar that is not very good .e.g, forastero from ivory coast etc
then 5-6 more bars with very different profiles
we ususally use samama ( a very rich spicy chocolate from Dom republic), than los ancones (also dom republic but very different), then carupano (venezuela), then manjari or gran couva from Varhona and we finish with Madong( a VERY unusual bar from a volcanic area in new guinea).

some other tips:

if people are not used to taste many chocolates in a short time,they may find it hard after a while. Ask them to pinch their nose whilst the chocolate melt and then release. As most flavor is felt in the nose, it will seem much more intense after that and will help them distinguish the flavors again.

if you can do tasting early in morning on a FRESH palate

There are the categories we use to “rate” the chocolate bars:
texture (how easlity it melts, smoothness)
Taste: lenght, intensity, complexity and distinctiveness
For example, Manjari is smooth, melts easily, it is intense with red fruits, very disctictive but lacks in complexity and length
We found that this categorisation is more or less complete and goes away from the “i like it or not”
Like people do not like all wines, they may not like all chocolate but it does not mean it is not good.

if you are interested in our tastings, check our website http://www.artisanduchocolat.com
we are also running much cheaper mini ones (bars only) during the chocolate week in fundraising for Battersea Dog home
you can find all details on http://www.chocolateweek.co.uk

|Hope this helps. May be this is too much info…

regards
Chocolatero

September 6, 2004
2:08 pm
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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Chocolatero, are you one of the people behind Artisan?

I visited the shop last december, and had a long talk with the girl behind the desk. I tried all you dark bars, and really enjoyed them. Especially I enjoyed the variety; they seemd not to have a distinct “maker taste”, as does many other. But: Is this due to them being rmoulded from choc from other makers, as well as your own: I saw Los Ancones on your website, is it the same as Cluizels? (Too long since I tasted yours to remember…). Some of your chocs also seemed to taste a bit “Valrhonaish”, do you cooperate with them? The website states that Artisan make everything self, but that is may be valid only for the pralines?

http://www.artisanduchocolat.c…../bars.html

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic…

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
September 6, 2004
3:01 pm
chocolatero
london
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yes,kind of wanted to stay anonymous but…
I am in fact probably the girl you met behind the counter!
We make all our chocolates, but are very open to say we do not process from the beans. Our bars (now about 14 types) represent couverture that we ahve selected, some of them being custom made for us but we do not buy the beans ourselves, nor owm the processing plants. So los ancones is cluizel, we also use manjari and then some from other very small couverture manufactuers who do not sell directly to the public. We DO NOT use any couverture from Callebaut or any of the biggies. We have a wide range of taste profiles to interest consumers but also help in the matching of flavours for finished chocolates.

So far we have no plan to buy our own beans and process them as often the qaulity of the result on a small scale is inferior to what yoiu can get from specialist manufacturers who have more experience and better access to the beans. Some of artisanal chocolatiers in Europe who say they produce their own chocolate from beans only produce a fraction and buy the rest in. it is often a pure marketing tool used very cynically to attract customers…and make them pay a huge premium from an inferior product.

Even in the large producers, you would be surprised to know how much is subcontracted to other companies.e.g. the cocoa butter from Varhona is bought in from callebaut etc..

anyway that is for another discussion…
Choco regards
Chocolatero

September 6, 2004
3:24 pm
alex_h
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anne, karsten,

thanks for all the information! very interesting stuff.
the samama and madong chocolates you mentioned, anne, can you tell us more about them? never heard of them before and am curious. the carupano is domori i image. correct?

September 6, 2004
3:36 pm
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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quote:


Originally posted by alex_h

anne, karsten,

thanks for all the information! very interesting stuff.
the samama and madong chocolates you mentioned, anne, can you tell us more about them? never heard of them before and am curious. the carupano is domori i image. correct?


Oops, how did you find my first name? Didn’t think I had posted it.

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic…

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
September 6, 2004
3:38 pm
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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quote:


Originally posted by chocolatero

yes,kind of wanted to stay anonymous but…
I am in fact probably the girl you met behind the counter!


He, he, if you remember a short guy, probably in a blue fleece, who talked a lot&loud, it’s me.

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic…

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*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
September 6, 2004
4:12 pm
chocolatero
london
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We are getting mixed here… but nice you remember my name
Samana, madong and carupano all come from suppliers who do not
supply directly to the public and only supply us in the UK
they are all single plantations (at least as much as that can be checked and one genotype)

Carupano is a Carenero superior from Venezuela. have not tried the new domori one so do not know how they compare. in gerneal I find that Domori does not melt well, possibly because I think they used a combined machine for grinding and conching. WE also sell the carenero 100% cocoa mass whihc is mind blowing

Madong is atrinitatio variety ” Papoua new guinea” growm on volcanic soil with strong notes of hay, leather and smoke. If some of you have tried Pralus Java, it is similar but stronger!

Samana is a hispanola from domenican republic with notes of liquorice and tobacco, very different from Los Ancones even though it is from same region

For all choco lovers in search of truth, recommend a new book from Olivier de Loisy called Cacao et grands crus de chocolat (only in french).

Got to go and make more chocolates now…
Choco thoughts
Chocolatero

September 7, 2004
9:19 am
alex_h
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polar and chocolatero (if you prefer),

i found your names in your profiles. would be cool if we had pics there too!

sounds like i’ll have to come check out your shop in london sometime, choc. it sounds more interesting than most of the stuff i’ve heard lately.

any more ideas on tastings, guys and girls? will probably end up being more of a chocolate party rather than a tasting, what with approx. 30-40 people invited, so i’ll need to bend the rules a bit it seems…

September 7, 2004
9:28 am
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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quote:


Originally posted by alex_h

polar and chocolatero (if you prefer),

i found your names in your profiles. would be cool if we had pics there too!


Ooops, forgot I had put my name there.[:)] Well actually, I am here:

http://uit.no/geologi/2827/61

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic…

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
September 7, 2004
10:07 am
alex_h
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:-) nice putting a face on a name. mine is under my yahoo profile. don’t know the url, but if you go into chat and click profile you’ll see me :-)

September 8, 2004
3:41 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Domori has that characteristic waxy mouthfeel, which I really adore, actually. They achieve this by conching for a lesser amount of time, which might influence the melting properties as well.

Why don’t you try a milk chocolate tasting? Start with an absolute crap bar, then introduce the better brands and increase the cocoa content as you go. Might be interesting. I recently finished a Scharffen Berger 41% milk bar, and it was exceptionally good. The fruitiness paired really well with the milk and offered a nice contrast to the caramel tone. It was quite pasty too and had a fairly strong chocolate flavor.

September 8, 2004
8:38 am
chocolatero
london
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on the domori “waxy”, I understand that they use a combined grinder and conche, which is often used in small productions e.g. Pralus too
( it is in fact a conche circular with little pieces of metal stuck to the side – sorry in french it is ailettes-as the chocolate is massaged it is conched but also particul size is reduced through friction)
So the trade off is the following:

1) if you grind and conch for a LONG time, you achieve a very smooth chocolate with good melting properties BUT there is a risk that you evaporate some of the aroma (due to heat from friction)

2) if you do not conch and therefore grind for a long time, you keep the aromas but also get a “sticky, waxy texture”, which I do not like

I really do not think that Domori has “achieved” this texture, rather they have had to live with it as a result of their size and choice of equipment.

Hope this helps
Chocolatero

September 8, 2004
1:01 pm
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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Alex, The ultimate thing would have been to end the tasting with a 100%. The one from Hacienda San Jose, Domori’s Ocumare 61 is fab! I will never ever try any other 100% after this, and those who think e.g Cluizel’s 85% is in the upper end of what they can handle would have no problem with this – very eatable! Same with their Ocumare 67 – 80% if I’m right. But, price is an issue here.

I would also recommend Fleur de Cacao from Marcolini 85% – just to continue messing up your guests concept of strength/intensity/percentages …

To continue with the costy suggestions – what about a salty milk? Leysieffer is way too salty according to my taste, but that is because of the grains of salt, not the chocolate itself. You do like (or love?) Domori’s, don’t you?

You should visit L’artisan also for their pralines. Their tobacco is quite an experience – not a nice one according to my personal taste, to be perfectly honest, but indeed interesting. Some of the others were simply great. I have already mentioned the salty caramels.

Please keep on spreading info, even if in the trade of chocolate it seems like the only info insiders have about the other kids on the playground is bad ;-)

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"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
September 8, 2004
1:28 pm
chocolatero
london
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For the 100%, I heard Shaffenberger(not sure of the writing) has a good one, may be available from Selfridges in london
We also have a very nice once called carenero (venezuela) which feels less bitter and milder than most cocoa mass due to longer conching.
regards
chocolatero

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September 8, 2004
1:32 pm
alex_h
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hi lone,
thanks. the only ocumare 61 i know is puertomar, but that’s got 75%. are you talking about puro? if so, isn’t that a blend?
i am thinking about having a 100%, but don’t know yet. if i do it will be domori.
ocumare 67 should be domori’s puertofino. that has 70%.
price is an issue, but being my birthday i am willing to spend a bit.

fleur de cacao sounds good, but won’t be able to get my hands on it.
leysieffer’s salty milk will definitely be among the selection for those not keen on darks. i prefer it to domori’s latte sal which is not salty enough for me :-)

no pralines or truffels, just bars.
i am thinking of some bonnat, valrhona, cluizel, domori, amedei and rovira and vivani’s organic.

anne, what are your current faves?

September 8, 2004
1:57 pm
chocolatero
london
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I think Rovira is Chocovic, which I am not a fan of
In the easiy available ones
Lost ancones from Cluizel (assuming it is a good batch as quality tend to vary with Cluizel)
I really like Gran Couva from Valrhona. The one that is currently available is very jasmin like…beautiful… much better than one from year before. From October the new harvest should be in.
Manjari always good.
on milk, i like Tanariva from Valrho, very pronounced notes of butter
Domori, not fan of texture
amedei has to be porcelana or chuao; blends far too pricey for quality

Just thought of a little challenge to the group: as you all like bars and have knowledge of taste profiles, we should have competition on the best blend (homemade). think of the bars you like and if you could create something better by mixing some of them— which by the way what a lot of chocolatier do and rename under something different…
What do you think?
Ideally the result should be smooth and melt nicely, long, intense, distinctve and complex, which is at least what I use as criteria
Could be fun….
Would need to temper but I assume most of you know how…
best regards
Chocolatero

September 8, 2004
2:06 pm
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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Alex,

No, I am not talking about Puertomar and Puertofino, neither Puro, but a new selection of bars from Hacienda San Jose. So far they’re only available in a cigar-like box unfortunately. Thanks to Martin’s generousity I got to taste some – it is Ocumare 61 and Ocumare 67, and one is 100%, the other 80%. Simply great, great stuff – and the 100% is SO much better than Puro :-)

I guess it will be more expensive than Puertomar and Puertofino, but only a small piece will give your guests the idea of it – which is part of the game, right?

Since you mentioned Bonnat, I’d recommend one of their dark milk chocolates. Java and Ashfarth are slightly better in my opinion. Among the dark bars I prefer Trinite.

For Cluizel I think Los Ancones is the most interesting although some of the other hacienda bars are great too.

And Amedei – well, you know my opinion …

Seems like a great event – what’s your 40 years anniversary going to be like? ;-)

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
September 8, 2004
2:15 pm
alex_h
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my fourtieth? well, i’ll have to think of something real special ;-)

who makes the bars you mention?! where can you get them?? and how poor will i be afterwards? seems so much is happening in chocolate these days. hard to keep up.