Columbia-based artisan chocolate maker Patric Chocolate makes exquisite, high-end chocolate bars. Even I, not a big chocolate person, appreciate the high quality and complex taste of Alan’s product, and Joanna positively swoons over it.
In the past, Patric has used only beans from Madagascar, giving a consistent flavor to even the various grades of chocolate (67%, 70%, and so on). This weekend, though, we discovered that they’re now using beans from Venezuela as well, and so picked up a bar of each for comparison (the Columbia Farmers Market is the best place to get Patric Chocolate).
We taste-tested a bar of Venezuelan Rio Caribe 70%, and one of Madagascar Sambirano Valley 70%, first as a blind test and then knowing what we were trying. Both of us agreed there were significant differences in flavor.
While I lack the proper vocabulary for chocolate subtleties, the “traditional” Madagascar bar was sweeter, maybe richer; as the label implies, it did remind me of fruit. The newer Venezuelan bar was darker and almost bitter to my tastes (in a good way, though, and Joanna doesn’t agree with that word). I can see why its label mentions a coffee flavor; it has a “bite” to it. The flavors of both are rich, complex, and delicious.
In any case, tastes are pretty subjective. The core point is, for those who like chocolate or subtle taste-tests of any kind, it’s well worth picking up a bar of each and exploring the intriguing differences for yourself. Just like our gourmet garlic or any other ingredient, cacao is not all the same and these two sources from Patric are a great way to experience that.