The dark version of this Amano Ocumare bar was one of my most favourite chocolate experiences of 2010 and now to one of my most disappointing of this year. This either reflects my unwavering preference for dark chocolate or how criollo cacao beans are not a precursor to great chocolate – regardless of what Chloe Doutre Roussel says. Anyhow, the beans used to make this bar come from the Ocumare De La Costa de Oro municipality of Venezuela where they grow in a sheltered valley leading into the Caribbean sea. Allegedly cacao has been farmed there in any significant quantity since the 1700’s, it’s just a shame that in those 300 years that this bar could possibly be the worst produced using their fine produce?
I never try to be unduly critical and stay away from the sensationalist clap-trap the tabloids offer, but I’ve tasted far better milk chocolate such as their Jembrana 30%, the Corazon Del Ecuador from Duffy, and even Thorntons make a superb Tonka Bean Milk Chocolate Bar. But the problem with this bar is not only the saccharine aroma but also the flavour of this bar comes across as forced and unbalanced.
The first thing that came to mind when I tested the nose was that it was very much like the dreadful Caderel Dark Chocolate Bar I reviewed late last year. The aroma is of sweetener and too much of it, with a slightly cream cheese edge just didn’t entice me into the bar. There’s hardly any acidity to it, which I thought Amano would let through, instead it’s more like brown sugar wrapped up in beautiful packaging.
And the flavour only just offers a slight bitterness at the very end. Of course, it’s not supposed to be a bitter bar at 30%, bit I expected more of a small-batch, artisan, gourmet feel to it. Instead I get too much of a marzipan flavour and not enough cacao. But this is where I start to hate myself. After a stressful, brain draining day I sometimes love a ‘session’ bar of chocolate in which I can just munch away without really thinking about what I’m eating. And this bar fits the bill completely. Instead of reaching for some oily Cadbury’s or Nestle, I’d feel less guilty snapping off a block or ten of this Amano bar.
Although the chocolate snob within me wishes I would turn my nose up and refuse to eat more than a single piece, the base, chocolate lover in me needs the chemical fix which this bar offers. As a chocolate addict that has abstained for a couple of days this is a morphine-like substitute to the real disgusting cheap chocolate habit that lies within all of us – admit it! As the chocolate DT’s born from a low(ish) calorie diet started to play tricks on my mind, once I tasted this chocolate I just couldn’t stop stuffing my face – only the need to type prevented me from over-dosing and collapsing into a sugar-induced coma.
If I had to replicated this bar in the audio-visual sense there is no bettern than to say it is very much like th song: The Time (Dirty Bit) by the Black Eyed Peas who make great music but they’ve absolutely ruined a fanstaic raw ingredient – the original song in this case, just as Amano have with the criollo with the Ocumare bar: