Provenance of food, and chocolate in particular, is very important to me. Sustainability and the support of smallholding, subsistence farmers is equally so. Far too often we’re offered chocolate that is highly polished, commercial and “safe”. I prefer chocolate that has flavoursome, has inconsistent edge to it but with a wholesome heart (especially after researching chocolate production around the world) – and this is where I turn wherever possible. I like to try chocolate from nations that have economic and agricultural challenges as much as small UK producers of chocolate trying to make a name for themselves. So when Simon Wright said he’d like to send some bars from Go*Do Choc I jumped at the chance.
Having suffered over the past few days with incomplete sleep I thought I’d give the Espresso bar a go first. Simon also sent some 34% milk chocolate bars with one being with hazelnut and two other 60% dark chocolate bars, one plain and one with Sicilian Almonds and a white chocolate bar with vanilla – all organic of course! The chocolate is originated from Ecuador, The Dominican Republic and Peru with a top to bottom sustainable and wholesome approach. There’s nothing intensive with these bars – apart from the taste.
The bars are actually manufactured in one of my favourite European cities (just don’t try and find a Youth Hostel!) – Milan – by a family business that has been has been making organic and sustainable chocolate for many many years. My only problem is, I don’t know enough about them, their domain name was apparently only registered in March this year – which means we’re at the birth of a new chocolate brand.
And on to the review. Just like the Artisan du Chocolat Espresso bar this one had a rich coffee aroma which was fantastically welcome. Due to my current malaise I got an instant anticipatory buzz from the scent and I just had to dive straight in. The bar had little brick like pieces that were actually beautiful because you just normally expect a bar of this widge just to have a one “block” width.
The bar was actually fairly difficult to break but when I just changed position I managed to do so and little flakes of the chocolate flew out across the table and I found myself licking my fingers and dabbing them up. This way you get a lovely mild chocolate coffee flavour that gently flits around your mouth. I could see that the chocolate itself was fairly dry and brittle and reminded me of the [I don’t know if I should be saying this!] the chocolate Thorntons may (or may not) be launching for their 100 year anniversary next year. Indeed this tasted like chocolate as I’ve been told it was a couple hundred years or so ago before it was overpowered with sugar and fats (damn, they even put palm oil in it these days!!).
I know I’m always harping on about how chocolate should feel in the mouth and it should have a velvety texture. However, if you choose to go down the organic, wholesome, “keeping it real” root it’s difficult to achieve that without loads of “added extras”, then you can expect it to be exceptionally smooth, especially as you’re adding the coffee to the affair. At first I was put off by the texture. But if you concentrate on the flavours then gritty nature isn’t an issue. If you wanted sweet, oily chocolate you’d buy Galaxy wouldn’t you?
I did love the flavour. It is intense, but perfectly balanced against the inherent chocolate notes to not totally over-power it whilst also allowing the sugar to play its part. There’s a definite nutty flavour to it that keeps any intensity well within the realms of reason. It’s not going to knock you over the head this bar, but it will give you a nice boost. It’s a bar for people that want to try something different.
I’ve not been able to find any information on pricing or availability in the UK market. But I’ll be keeping a close eye on their Twitter feed and their Facebook group to make sure I know how they plan to serve us here. Also I can’t find any information relating to ingredients etc. So I’m just going to give it a quick rating as 70% as I did love its rustic nature and flavour and it was certainly nice to get away from acidic chocolate for a while.
And on another note. I’d love to increase my knowledge of the Fairtrade system and compare it to how Askinosie view the production of ethically sourced chocolate.