There was me thinking that I'm not overtly enthusiastic about this chocolate. It wasn't until I took the photo that I realised I had already eaten half of it.
I've got this nagging blog post about my recent experience at the Mast Brothers new London store knocking around in my head and seemingly everything I try now is compared to their chocolate as a measure of perception v. reality. Ireland has a great marketing image and the Ireland I've seen is completely different - the same can be said for the Mast Brothers - the reality of their chocolate is vastly different from the PR they had been getting until now. The point is that this notion that the rest of Europe may have about the Irish being far better creators of music and whisky than craft foods is totally wrong. People of the Emerald Isle do things their way - and that is perfectly evidenced by this chocolate.
Convention has it that you start off with unadulterated origin chocolate. You know, a range of Venzy, a Madagascan and perhaps a Dominican Republic - any origin that you can get beans from. But the guys there have skipped the culinary foreplay and jumped straight into some unusual flavours (which I'll explore later) such as seaweed, strawberry & cardamon and this one: elderberry with roasted hazelnuts.
The zestiness of the chocolate is more apparent on the nose than the tastebuds - at least initially. The flavour starts to get going, pulls back and then builds up again. In fact it's almost got a peppery profile that I don't often notice from Venezuelan cacao and most certainly comes from the tartness of the elderberry.
In isolation it wouldn't be something I would think about returning to. But it is a grower. It makes you think differently about the conventional form of chocolate and realise that there is a whole world out there that isn't just bean to bar chocolate adorned with either sea salt, nibs or both. Kudos for the team at Hazel Mountain for offering us something different.
We have since tried their Strawberry and cardamon chocolate that we very much like.