Thursday, September 30, 2010
My traveling buddy -- and by that I mean my buddy who travels, not my buddy with whom I travel, because I haven't traveled very much recently beyond my usual New York-Massachusetts-New Jersey circuit -- brought this bar home to me from Switzerland! Migros is one of Switzerland's biggest supermarket chains, I guess, and being that Switzerland is the sort of unofficial chocolate capital of Europe, I had reasonably high hopes for this dark milk bar.
Cocoa content: 53%
Notable ingredients: n/a
So the French word cremant sort of translates to.. creaming? That can't be right. Let's hope not. This bar was, however, exceptionally creamy, and it absolutely exceeded my expectations for what supermarket chocolate could accomplish. The last supermarket-brand chocolate bar I had on this blog was from Tesco, and that turned out to be a chalky, graceless nightmare. I'm thankful for this vast improvement. Plus, I love the packaging -- what the hell are those things, Raisinettes!?
This was a melty, full-bodied treasure. I loved the velvety, dense -- here I want to say "mouthfeel" but I won't -- you get the idea. This was dark milk chocolate at its best! This is a bar that I'd expect from a chocolate company -- not from a chain supermarket. But you know what, I've encountered surprises left and right in this crazy world: did you know Brody Jenner is dating Avril Lavigne!? Things are not always what they seem.
The Cremant bar has restored my faith in the existence of really good supermarket-brand chocolate. Cheers to that! A-.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
It's no secret that I've been pretty delinquent about buying chocolate recently, which is why I am here to write about a 1-year-old Irish chocolate bar that has been collecting chalky choco-dust in my chocolate box (yup) for some time. I promise -- the next month will be a more fruitful one, as just last night I acquired a whopping 4 (!) new chocolate bars. Oh, and I saw Pavement. Basically everything is going to be more fruitful from now on. But anyway -- here I am, having eaten this gin & tonic flavored bar and wanting at least to report on it, if not to relive it.
Cocoa Bean Chocolate Co.: Gin & Tonic
Cocoa content: 70%
Notable ingredients: juniper berries; lime zest
Now, don't get me wrong, I like a gin & tonic -- I like it in a cup, fool! With ice and lime! Who the hell decided that a chocolate bar should taste like a highball cocktail, though? I guess it shouldn't surprise us that the answer to that is -- an Irish person. From County Kerry, no less. Come to think of it, the only other alcohol-inspired chocolate bar I've ever had was also purchased in Ireland. That would be the Lindt Irish Coffee bar and, well, we saw how successful that was.
Well, I have fine memories of ordering many gin & tonics while I was abroad in Ireland. Over there, they serve you a shot of gin in a glass along with an adorable mini Schweppes bottle of tonic water that you're supposed to add to the gin as you see fit. That was great. This bar, not so much. Granted, I let it sit around for a year, but that doesn't excuse the off-putting synthetic lime taste and odd piney flavor of the crushed juniper berries.
The back of the package reads: "Perfectly acceptable at any time of day." And judging from the fact that my Irish University's college bar opened at 11am, that's not really saying much. C-.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Here's another Berkshire Bark bar from Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville, MA -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? But there's actually a ton of great specialty food shopping in that little city, and many interesting little shopping districts that I never knew about in high school because they weren't on the Red Line. Behold: Jumpin' Java.
Berkshire Bark: Jumpin' Java
Cocoa content: unlisted (guess: 60%)
Notable ingredients: Brace yourself -- roasted almonds; espresso toffee; crushed coffee beans; caramelized nibs
Now, I'll forgive Berkshire Bark for the corny name "Jumpin' Java," which is perhaps even cornier than the last Berkshire Bark product I had -- "Pretzelogical" -- but, hey, at least this time I was prepared! And, to be honest, this bar was jumpin'. This was a monstrous hunk of chocolate filled to the brim with whole almonds, amazingly delicious homemade toffee, and lots of roasted coffee flavor. I'm not crazy about coffee-flavored things in general, but there was so much sugar happening here that the acidity I usually object to was neutralized.
The only thing that was decidedly unpleasant about this bar was that it's impossible to break off pieces of it. For those of us who eat chocolate in a civilized manner, bit by bit, night after night, with attention to the subtlest of details, the unsegmented design of the bar was kind of difficult to deal with. It's basically just a hunk of thick, densely packed chocolate, with nary an easy-breaking line in sight. Berkshire Bark should sell these snacks in little bite-sized pieces, all contained in a bag, but then -- alas -- I might never have Known it.
All in all, a delectable bar from a delectable state. B+.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
A combination of obscenely hot weather and beginning-of-school busyness (is that a word?) has demoted chocolate Knowing to about the 4th item on my to-do list, and lord knows that means it didn't get done. I promise I'll be back next week when I've had a chance to procure something new, sit back, and nibble thoughtfully.
In the meantime, however, I will tell you that I had a Take 5 bar for the very first time, and that it was otherworldly. I definitely recommend it.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
This bar traveled all around the New York metro area, only to end up in my mouth -- Michael bought it in the MarieBelle Soho store and took it home to me in northern New Jersey, at which point I ate a few pieces of it, packed it back up, and took it back over to New York -- further North this time, to Bronxville.
Cocoa content: 70%
Notable ingredients: n/a
Of its Madagascar bar, MarieBelle claims that bars of gold could not be finer. And I'd have to agree with them -- everything about this bar, including the pretty fold-out packaging and the exceptional snap and richness and sweetness was perfect. MarieBelle sells such amazing chocolate! I've never encountered even a slightly offensive or overdone taste in any of their products. This Madagascar bar was distinctive and perfectly balanced.
This is only the third single-origin bar from Madagascar that I've featured on this blog, and it looks like they have a pretty good track record with me. It's amazing that there's such a huge difference in flavor between beans from Madagascar and those from Ghana and other surrounding countries -- it leads me to believe that the proximity of particular plants and crops really does influence the way the beans taste.
Sorry for the generally uninteresting post -- being back at college in 95 degree weather has displaced chocolate from my list of top priorities. I hope my enthusiasm about this bar comes across regardless. A.