Parliament Chocolate have been on my radar for about a year but only now have I actually been able to try some of their produce. Even before we seek out chocolate to test before even consider stocking a chocolate we feel the need to do some low-level due diligence. This is where we review the makers' literature, other people's reviews and their social media profiles. And whilst reading through the available information we came across a thorough interview with Ryan about his past and Parliament's ethos and one thing struck me as being a criteria for future makers: the willingness to travel to grower's farms and work with those growers to enhance the cacao with the aim of making better chocolate.
Of course travelling to far flung locations isn't an option to many new makers, and it is those that we try and encourage and foster, but for larger makers that have moved on from making chocolate from their home, then this passion and desire for the growers has to be key.
This is also shown on the reverse of the chocolate's packaging. For the Öko Caribe we can at least see that they know where their beans come from: three small co-operatives in the Dominican Republic, around San Francisco de Macoris. Although we would prefer that makers don't source beans from sourcing companies such as Öko, but if we believe that their ethics are in the right place then we have no problem. And for Öko we can see that they have built up long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with the growers.
As for the chocolate, the tasting notes state that we should expect 'red grapes, prune, honey, hibiscus and pomegranate' which is a great contrast to the earthen, tobacco, slightly harsh notes that I often expect from the island.
Although the nose leads you towards that rustic, dusty experience, the tasting notes are absolutely spot on. The texture may have been compromised by the transatlantic journey but I feel the flavour is wonderful - in fact: joyous.
It is punchy without being uncomfortable. It even comes across as reminiscent, slightly, of burned toast with a decent splattering of rich, real butter. The piquancy present also leads it towards being one that I could easily consume the entirety of the 48g form in short order.
The prune notes continue delivering flavour well after the melt has finished and gives another reason as to why would be willing to stock Ryan's chocolate. There are no 'off' notes, there is something different from what we would expect from the origin and the flavours are clear.
This is a wonderful chocolate.