Having seen Geert post pictures of some Bouga Cacao bars I just had to try some. After a few minutes randomly surfing around their webshop, I plumped for a few items, one of which was this 77% Arriba Nacional Hacienda Bosque de Oro bar.
The cacao used in this bar is Arriba Nacional and was grown around the town Quevedo in central Ecuador where the Hacienda has a prominent position on a ridge. The cacao is harvested, fermented and dried there (not on racks though) and then sent south to Ecuador’s largest city: Guayaquil where the beans are processed into the chocolate for Bouga Cacao. As a side note, Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer also has chocolate made in Guayaquil. Having never knowingly tried of their Ecuadorian chocolate I couldn’t make any comparisons, but I doubt it would be as rustic as this from Bouga.
This bar comes in a very sophisticated black box with green and yellow imagery. I’m actually in two minds about it as it does look interesting in that I can’t recall another chocolate company with such a stark brand, but by the same token the pure novelty of a new company to explore the wares of is deeply appealing. Having tried a few French chocolatiers in the past with mixed results it was nice to try some chocolate which shun the limelight and just focus on the product. I wish more chocolatiers were like this.
What I loved about the contents of the packaging is that it comes in two-finger form – I really wasn’t expecting that! I suppose it’s better to keep the air away from the other half as you keep it for later enjoyment. Even given that, they had a great resemblance to the Artisan du Chocolat bars with their well-defined ridges, but this bar is a fair bit thicker – which I prefer.
I’m not ashamed to say that the aroma is distinctly of sweaty feet mixed with fish and chips and red wine. On reflection it has great similarities to the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Company spicy bars I reviewed last year. The aroma is distinct and certainly untarnished by excessive processing. This comes across in the texture as well which is slightly granular and dry, but that may have more to do with its transportation than any light manufacture, especially given the blooming evident.
The flavour is slightly spicy with a significant backdrop floral notes reminiscent of lavender and nutmeg but. Despite being made with verbena leaves which have a lemon flavour it wasn’t as pronounced as it could be, instead there was a slight flavour of the Lumi bar from Artisan du Chocolat. It’s nowhere near as acidic as I’d have expected from the aroma and the ingredients, but It really is a very curious bar. There’s nothing overly exciting about it, just pleasant and understated. If you like rustic chocolate or just to explore what’s out there, then do seek this chocolatier out. Just don’t expect anything highly polished!