Monday, March 28, 2011

March Biagio Sample Day: You Should Have Gone

Even though everybody at the organization I work for has been working nearly nonstop since the earthquake in Japan earlier this month, our CEO has been adamant that we all take a few breaks to ensure that we don’t overwork ourselves. I took one such break from drawing up a presentation on seismic probabilistic risk assessments to go to one of my favorite monthly Washington events: the Biagio Sample Day, which I attended with my friend Steven and his son, who is learning to appreciate fine chocolate at a young age.

We were also joined by my friend Juliette and one of Steven’s friends, but some folks aren’t always available for photos. Chocolate, on the other hand, is the ideal model, always willing to pose.

This fine and professional model was an Amadei 70% cocoa extra dark bar, featuring Jamaican beans, had a slow, buttery melt that evenly released nice cherry notes and had just enough sugar added to avoid bitterness.

Several other bars were available for sampling, and I made sure I enjoyed all of them. A few that were especially interesting:

  • A sea salt nib bar by Madecasse, which featured a subtle crunch from the nibs, as well as a nice balance of sweet and bitter thanks to the genius addition of the salt to make the nibs more palatable.
  • The Cluizel Maralumi Milk bar, made entirely from beans sourced from the Maralumi plantation in Papua New Guinea, which had a very complex flavor for a milk chocolate bar. I found it to be spicy, with cinnamon and cumin notes as well as a hint of caramel.
  • A unique bar, simply named “214,” from a completely new-to-me chocolatier, Fresco Chocolate, which draws out unique flavors by precisely manipulating the cocoa during the conching and roasting process, gave off citrus notes immediately. Cranberry and subtly cherry flavors followed, and the slow, intense melt made the slightly sour, but pleasing, fruity taste long-lasting. Fresco even had a written discussion about their process, which was an intriguing read.

Other non-bar creations were available for sample as well, including some Zoe’s peppermint bark from Waynesboro, PA, which included bits of peppermint that were slightly larger than I prefer, but which didn’t overwhelm the taste of the white chocolate.

There was also a divine treat from Chicago-based Terry’s Toffee waiting at the end of the chocolate-tasting display.

The toffee was a perfect texture, neither too soft nor too hard, and was just a tad salty and in no way too sweet. It was also addictive, hence my decision to not purchase any. I instead replenished my supply of some standby favorites from Potomac Chocolate and Claudio Corallo, and selected a few new chocolates to enjoy, including the Madecasse seat salt nib bar and the Fresco 214 bar that were featured at sample day.

A wonderful experience, as always. If you live in DC and haven’t gotten to a sample day at Biagio, you simply must sign up for their mailing list so that you don’t miss out again.

Are you interested in the roasting and conching process for chocolate that you eat?


  1. I woulda if I coulda! One of my happiest memories of my trip to DC in Christmas 2009 was the hours I spent chatting with one of the owners of Biagio :)

  2. It was definitely a good one this month. I liked the Fresco 214 a lot. I also tasted a couple other Fresco bars, including another Madegascar (batch 215) and ended up buying one of the Dominican Republic bars (batch 213--dark roast, no conche). I had never heard of Fresco, either.

    We picked up on of the Madecasse sea salt & nib bars last time we were at Biagio. It's really fantastic.

  3. I need a chocolate sample day....hahahahaha!

  4. I totally meant to come but got really sick Saturday midday, sadly. Looks delicious!

  5. I went and had a great time. I think I got four of the bars that were sampled ... my favorite was the Vosges toffee (that's already gone). And I also picked up a bar of the salted chocolate I told you about earlier, so I can now tell you that it's Michael Mischer Murray River Salt; 72% dark. Oh, we also got a bar of camel milk chocolate, which is really interesting.

  6. I think the title says it all. That looks like heaven!