Where I hear you say? Vanuatu – it’s a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific somewhere between Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea and sounds a jolly nice place. The main export is primary goods in the form of coconuts, coffee, timber, beef, and of course, cocoa. What I didn’t know, however, is that Vanuatu, along with Samoa have the oldest cocoa industries in the South Pacific source where it dates back to the 19th Century and now produces only around 1,200 tonnes a year which is less than one thousandth of that of Ivory Coast. Interestingly the cacao used to make this bar comes from the island of Epi which only produces a small fraction of the country’s total output, with Malekula and Santa /Malo producing the large bulk. I’ve also found out that much of the cacao is grown alongside coconut trees, so it’d be interesting to establish if the cacao tree’s growing partner has affected the flavour of the cacao.
The aroma is as clear-cut as any I’ve witnessed. The notes that just jump out at me are that of that hard gingerbread you get in Germany which they use to make gingerbread houses. It has a slightly stale edge – the gingerbread, not the chocolate of course. The flavour continues the aromatic trend with the muted ginger characteristic. But it seems wrapped around a more traditional, mass-market, chocolate flavour – just as you might have at with seasonal chocolate. But that doesn’t mean to distract or demean this bar as it truly is delightful, it just that I’ve not tried fine chocolate before that manages to gimmick intestinally or otherwise, the flavours of production line chocolate.
Leaving it on the tongue to melt there are wonderful cherry notes that spring to the surface whilst a mute acidity bubbles under the surface without popping through, just like those lava flows with a solid crust on top. The ability to get these flavours seems aided by the sheer thickness of the bar – every mouthful seems to be different than the previous. The last bite had a sharp zestiness that contrasts vividly with the sanguine gingerbread.
The texture I was in two minds about. It didn’t feel as smooth and silky as the other Pralus bars, there were little globules of the chocolate that took longer to melt than the rest and formed more of a paste texture whilst it melted rather than the consistent texture I would have preferred.
Perhaps I couldn’t see much to warrant giving this bar a remarkable score as in itself it isn’t remarkable. The source may be of interest, however the bar itself doesn’t compare to other Pralus greats such as the Chuao.
And what of the coconut? I didn’t taste any.