Monday, January 21, 2013

Cocova January Sample Day

Although Cocova has been holding their monthly sample days regularly, I haven’t been for ages. Other commitments and, well, life, keep making it impossible. But this past Saturday, there was an opportunity.

An opportunity to gather friends who’d never been to such an event before.

(Karen, Rachel, and Sarah usually just meet me forswim/bike/run activities, but seemed intrigued by the promise of high-end chocolate.)

And an opportunity to see Cocova’s new sign, which nicely features their address so that it’s easier for fine chocolate neophytes in the DC area to find.

Once inside, we got to work checking out the chocolate they had out for examination.

I looked at the Bianchi sugar-free white chocolate, and knew that I had to check it out, as I’ve had to avoid white chocolate since being told to cut way back on my sugar consumption.

It was still fairly sweet, and nice and smooth. The group collectively decided that the Patric OMG Mint was to die for.

I found it to be more peppermint than herby in character, and it trended sweet as opposed to deep and herbal, but good nonetheless.

We voted the Bonnat Chuao, with its beautiful melt and complex flavor, as the best find of the day. And at $22 for 100 g, I should hope so.

Until next time, friends!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Boston Visit: The Changing Chocolate Scene

 Last weekend, I got to go visit one of my favorite cities.


As I've written here a few times before, Boston has many, many opportunities for enjoying delicious chocolate treats. I was, however, saddened to learn that one of my favorites, JP Licks on Newbury Street, had closed.

 Shedding a few tears was an appropriate reaction.

Just like anger was an appropriate reaction to seeing much lower caliber shops open up on Newbury Street instead.

Apparently, they are spreading. Like a disease.

However, I was happy to see that some things weren't changing. For example, Teuscher is still opening their doors for everybody seeking high-quality Swiss chocolate, and I was able to pick up a 77% cacao bar, which is one of my favorite dark chocolates from their shop.

Just down the street, Hotel Chocolat beckoned, and I stepped in to grab a few single-origin bars, a nice orange dark chocolate bar, and some dark chocolate pistachio pieces.

The best thing I came away with was some insider information about potential Hotel Chocolat expansion plans in North America. They made me very, very happy.

Finally, I found one good change - a new storefront for LA Burdick, this one in the Back Bay, right near where I was staying.

Though I passed on the single origin hot chocolate this go-around, I did pick up their Brazilian dark chocolate bar out of curiosity, and will, of course, report back on how it turns out.

Such a short weekend. So many chocolate shops. So many delicious dark chocolate bars to nibble at until my next trip up north.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cocova: This Time, With Company

Yesterday was an outstanding day. Sure, I got to bike AND run in the morning, which always makes me happy, even in oppressive DC humidity. But even better, I got to meet this special lady.

Hannah! Here all the way from Australia. When I found out she was going to be in DC, I pestered her for an in-person meet up, and bribed her with a visit to Cocova with all its delightful chocolate offerings from the U.S. and around the globe.
Evidently, many European chocolates are harder to come by in Australia, so she and I both admired the Cluizel and Pralus, and I even sent her away with one of my favorite bars - the Virginia-made Potomac Chocolate Upala 82% cacao bar.

Come back soon, Hannah. We have more Vosges bars to dissect.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Delaviuda Yogu-Fresa

Earlier this summer, Cecelia, the queen of making beautiful homemade macarons, sent me some chocolate from Spain.

Yes, Spain. I’ve had plenty of French, German, and Italian chocolate. But never Spanish, which Cecelia thought was a shame, and she remedied the situation with this The Delaviuda Yogu-Fresa bar.

The strawberry-yogurt based bar from Toledo, Spain had a clear aroma of tart berry and cream, along with a very thin chocolate coating.

 That chocolate coating was smooth, with a strong dairy flavor, and was soft enough to break nicely alongside the interior.

Underneath that thin chocolate layer was a firm white-chocolate-like filling with a strong, tart yogurt flavor. Crumbled freeze dried berries are nicely distributed throughout the filling, and add a pleasing but slightly artificial berry flavor to the bar. The tart yogurt and berry dominate the flavor of this sweet bar, and there is little chocolate flavor notable given the thin chocolate shell, but it is a delightful treat nonetheless.

Thank you, Cecelia!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

August Cocova/Eclat Sample Event

Welcome back, fellow chocolate lovers! I've been consumed with many non-chocolate adventures this summer - namely, training to cross the finish line at Ironman Louisville last month. I'm happy to report that I did it, and you can read about it on my other blog, and am even happier to report that I have more time to talk about chocolate.

Just in time for an event at Cocova last Friday.

Intriguing? Turns out that Christopher Curtin of Eclat was there to sample and discuss some of his divine creations. 

I've had the opportunity to try some of the Eclat bars before, including their Milk Chocolate Pretzel Bar, and have generally been pleased. They had an intriguing toasted corn bar out for review, and I, of course, checked it out.

Though I wasn't very drawn to that bar, the sampling event was far from over, as Eclat provided caramels and truffles for enjoyment as well.

Christopher proudly showcased his Fortunato No.4 truffle, a simple ganache that allowed the distinct flavor of the rare Peruvian cacao to shine. 

It's good to be back with chocolate.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lindt Excellence Coconut Bar

Although I was not very excited about the Lindt Excellence Caramel with a Touch of Sea Salt bar that I was sent as a member of the Lindt Excellence Influencers club, I wasn’t scared off. I mean, a Coconut dark chocolate bar still required evaluation.

This bar, with a 47% cacao chocolate base, has a clear coconut aroma, with bits of coconut that are well-distributed throughout the bar.

The base chocolate has a dominant coffee flavor, yet avoids a bitter bite that some coffee-centric dark chocolates put off. The melt is smooth and not at all dry.

The coconut is flavorful and well-toasted. Since I adore chocolate and coconut together, I do like this bar, but I think that other coconut bars, such as the Elbow No. 16 Dark Chocolate and Coconut bar, are much better. 

That said, this bar is much easier to find throughout the U.S. - I've even seen it at CVS, so it's a great solution for any and all chocolate-coconut emergencies.

Lindt Excellence: Caramel with a Touch of Sea Salt

One of the cool things about being selected as a member of the 150-person Lindt Excellence Influencers Club is that they ask us what we think about their new bars.

Most importantly, that means that in the process of gathering our thoughts, they send us free chocolate.


Since I'm in the middle of heavy triathlon training right now, salt is always on my mind. I lose of a lot of it sweating through 3-hour runs and 6-hour bike rides, so I naturally went for the Caramel with a Touch of Sea Salt first.

The bar has a brown sugar aroma, accented with a hint of woodiness, and the base chocolate has a smooth, creamy melt.

This bar is very strong on salt, which starts dissolving immediately and obscures most flavor from the chocolate. A few hints of coffee and mint accent a cream-heavy flavor, but it is the salt that is most apparent.

And that caramel?

Hard crunchy bits that stick to your teeth. Not ideal.

Overall, unbalanced and a bit disappointing. If I think it has too much salt, it’s very salt heavy.