Having tried the Artisan du Chocolat Vietnam Origin bar last year I wondered if this Ben Tre bar I bought from Demarquette would match it? I’ll let the cat out of the bag early on and say it most definitely does. You see, although these two bars come from the same country, namely Vietnam they are two completely different bars of chocolate; the Artisan bar is spicy and light whereas this is dark and broody.
Well, first things first, this bar comes from the Ben Tre Province which is at the southern tip of the elongated country in the Mekong Delta and only about an hour and a half from Ho Chi Minh City. During the Vietnamese War this part of the country was absolutely ravaged and devastated beyond comprehension and it seems fitting that £1 of the £4.99 value of the bar goes to the Action Against Hunger charity.
The guys at the charity ask whether this bar is the best in the world? Well, it certainly has a lot of similarities to my favourite bar of 2010 which was the Pralus Chuao 70% which had a sensational burned brownie quality to it and this has a similar burned sugar context. The aroma is absolutely beautiful with a delightful acidity that is clean-cut and without distraction. I’d certainly say that this aspect of the bar is perfect. On further inspection I do get that rice wine edge that the Artisan bar has, but it seems to only appear with the odd piece.
The flavour is a curious affair. You melt some in your mouth and you get a delightful grape juice flavour that, at a click of your fingers, turns into that burned brownie tone and then roasted almond is layered on the top. And that’s what I absolutely love about this bar – it takes you on a sensuous journey. Every bite fills your mouth and nasal passages with an incredibly delightful aroma whilst your mouth is entertained by many different flavours that traverse it with the same beauty as the Vietnamese coast.
I was going to say that this bar is like a rollercoaster ride as it’s full of excitement, but that’d just be wrong. You see, there are no low points with this bar at all. It’s just delicious all the way through. My problem, however, is knowing how to compare it to the Pralus Chuao? The strengths with this bar is that it’s accessible and has packaging that wouldn’t intimidate those new to dark chocolate as well as giving £1 to charity with each bar. The downside is that the packaging is so much of the enjoyment of a bar to me, this Ben Tre bar lacks on that front. But as the main purpose of this bar is to raise money to help prevent hunger, and it’d be foolish to waste that money on top-of-the-range packaging when it could go to needy people, then that’s really not an issue.
Update: Check out the video of Marc visiting the Ben Tre area of Bolivia: