One of the absolute highlights of last year reviewing the Potomac Chocolate Upala 82% as it was robust and utterly delightful. However, despite it’s wondrousness, it has taken a full year for me to review this 70% version Victoria sent me over from the States. In that time the bar had won silver at the Academy of Chocolate awards – for which I was a judge as well as being a finalist in the 2011 Good Food Awards. Of course it must be good, but how would it fair having been stuck in my chocolate collection for those twelve months?
As a bit of a re-cap, Potomac Chocolate is a small batch, hand-crafted chocolate maker based in the Washington DC area and is one of a small number of American chocolate makers producing some outstanding chocolate. Potomac is exactly the type of chocolate company I like to support because they get far less attention than they deserve – which is the eternal problem of the world’s best craft companies.
I believe the cacao used to produce this bar came from the Upala Cacao Cooperative which is based in the canton of the same name in northern Costa Rica and possibly also the same source that Hershey acquire their cocoa beans for the Dagoba chocolate brand which they acquired from Frederick Schilling in 2006. It’d be interesting, given the opportunity, to compare this bar with the Dagoba one.
The aroma was most certainly of crispy Danish bacon – intense, sweet and salty. To me that’s how fine dark chocolate should appear to the nose – deep and obvious. Traditionally I’m not a big fan of nicotine, but there’s just the slightest edge present, which adds another dimension.
I don’t think the long flight over here and the year being spent piled up in my chocolate room helped bring out the best in the bar as there was just the slightest dry edge to the texture – that’s possibly parlty due to the lack of superflous ingredietns and also partly my fault and not that of the makers as a result of how it was kept. But what we can blame Ben for is that he has created a bar that I don’t actually want to put down. It’s not one to knock your socks off in some sort of boisterous, aggressive way; the flavours are just clean, simple and elegant. Uncomplicated chocolate, to my mind, is just as desirable when executed properly compared to chocolate that evolves in your mouth.
When I taste this bar I recall an ice cream I had as a child. Perhaps it was an old style Solero, which had vanilla ice cream but had a line of mild red fruit preserve running though. There’s certainly a nutty quality and as well as a benign raspberry tone restrain within that caramel boundary. Because the flavours are not so pronounced they become difficult to define. This is my downfall when it comes to chocolate: I consume more and more in a flavour expedition which ultimately will lead to my downfall.
This chocolate is a different beast to the 82% version. It’s soft, elegant and slightly wistful. Buy both and compare notes.