Being somewhat of an entrepreneur myself I get an amazing sense of joy seeing people battle against the odds and produce something worth taking note of. So I was absolutely thrilled to hear from Tim at Daintree Estates who, along with his team, have spent the last ten years working towards the day when they can offer chocolate made from Australian cacao in an ethical fashion. And that day is today.
But it’s not only the fact that they have probably had an almighty struggle getting this far, but also because not only do the growers but also the suppliers have a shareholding in the Daintree co-operative which, in turn, enriches the wider community in northern Queensland. Furthermore, they also look at the environmental impact of their operations in a holistic sense given that they understand the symbiotic nature of working the land and harvesting it.
Also of interest is that the cacao grown here isn’t from one estate, one terroir, if you will. But a number of local growers all contribute beans which are then processed on the Daintree Estate. As they’re seeking more growers to contribute it’d be interesting to note how the flavour of their bars change over time.
Many of you would wonder how Australia can grow cacao given that it’s an arid country – well you’ve probably been watching too much Neighbours. Having lived with an Australian couple in London for a few months I was told me about how hot and humid it is up there – the perfect conditions for growing cacao. In fact the Daintree Rainforest is part is located in the Wet Tropics and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
But what of the chocolate itself? Rarely when I open up a bar of chocolate I’ll get flashbacks to my childhood- and this was one. Whenever we drove over to France we’d invariably return home with huge containers of hot chocolate – I’m not entirely sure if it was any better than we had at home, but that’s something we did. This bar had that very mild, sweet aroma that had a resemblance to the Wittamer sugar free bar I reviewed earlier in the year.
The flavour, however, was as ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ as I’ve ever witnessed. It starts off as mild as I’ve ever tasted, but then fairly fathers speed and ends up offering a completely unique flavour. Underlying a very strawberry jam note is a balsamic vinegar sense which carries on throughout the melt. Seemingly along with this acidity is a sweet fructose tone. Picture the Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream and that’s exactly what this bar tastes like – and I love it because of it.
It very much is a strange chocolate as I just don’t know how they manage to get so much of the fruitiness through whilst still managing to keep the acidity to a minimum. But what also is a marvel is the intense smoothness of it all. It really is like eating ice-cream as it melts to almost nothing in seconds – there’s no hard work, no residue to play with and no taste buds being assaulted. This Daintree Estates bar really is a marvel.
I’ll be sharing this bar with all my Australian friends down under and will try and get them to try it and see what they think, but I just hope some of my independent chocolate retailer friends here would consider stocking it if they could.
It may taste young like under-ripe bananas, but that sort with it you get some youthful charm. Certainly a winner with me.
Any excuse, my favourite band just happens to be Australian too. So it would be a great time to listen to their song about chocolate (and cigarettes):