Here I kick off another season of looking at chocolate made by American companies. The feature of this review is the Woodblock Chocolate Manufactory which is based in Portland Oregon and is a company I've been keeping my eye on for at least a year and the only reason that we haven't moved further with stocking them is the small size of their bars - they're just 25g each. Tiny chocolate bars do seem to be something of a vogue at the moment. We have Amano producing relatively small ones, Dead Dog producing them at just 21g and even French Broad making them at 60g. This is counter the large size we expect from British, German and Italian makers. The problem is that at smaller sizes the human element of the cost of the bar is no less than a 100g bar - this often means that the retail price is just too high for most of our customers to feel comfortable with.
Putting that initial negative to one side, I'll focus on the actual quality of the chocolate. Trinidad isn't an origin that many people will have come across - unless you shop in Lidl as J.D. Gross do a bar or have ventured into the realms of Soma, Amedei, Ritual, Guide Gobino, Coppeneur, Rogue, Pralus et al. The problem with Trinidadian cacao is that you never know what you're going to get - the variability from one bar to another is astonishing. And with this bar I'm not so sure. The flavour has an unerring resemblance to crispy bacon on a Saturday morning with bread that has far too much butter. It does move quickly on, though. In to stewed pairs and fruit and nut mix. It’s certainly not sophisticated, but equally it is very intriguing. It's a 'left field' chocolate - massively unconventional, and as I let the flavours settle and my mind with it, I actually start to like it. A great deal.
It's the Salt and Nibs; however, that greatly attracts me. This uses Camino Verde cacao from Ecuador and is delightful. Again, it's unconventional but that heady mix of the salt and the nibs creates peaks and troughs of flavour. The problem is that there is just so much going on that it is difficult to pinpoint anything. You most definitely should be able to detect olives, but also a sugar confectionery that seems 'base' but totally satisfying. I absolutely love it!
From only two interactions with Woodblock I can sense their unusual approach to chocolate is something our customers would appreciate. Unique chocolate is why we established this chocolate shop, and I feel Woodblock's chocolate would fit in with the other brands very well.