Obviously sending chocolate through the mail system from the good 'ole U.S. of A isn't going to do it any good. But I'm not going to let a little bit of temperature shock affect my desire to try as much chocolate from around the world as possible.
For those that don't know, Potomac is a handmade, bean to bar company where Ben Rasmussen puts his fairly newly found chocolate making skills to great use. In fact, Potomac recently won a Silver for their 70% at the 2011 Academy of Chocolate Awards. Obviously when I judged for them I don't know if I got to review that bar, but I'll cast my senses over this 82% bar and compare mental notes.
Often I criticise companies for the visual appearance of packaging. I do that in context. Big brands such as Thorntons, Hotel Chocolat and other companies of their ilk, it should be fair game to pass judgement on the visuals - for that plays a large part in the company's brand. For, small batch, artisan companies their brand is more made up of the intrinsic quality of the chocolate, their story and how they communicate via social media. On that assessment, they offer a great deal of brand enjoyment.
Obviously the packaging is simplistic, but this is exactly how I expect this type of chocolate company to be presented in their selection of retail outlets - it’s exactly what their target audience would be receptive to. If you're buying hand-made, small-batch chocolate you're buying into an artisan, rustic, unique ethos. And that comes over in spades with this bar.
Skipping over the temperature shock that was of no fault of theirs, this is truly wonderful bar of bitter dark chocolate. It seems a completely different beast trying it at this warmer temperature than I did a few days ago when it was a fair bit cooler. I think I actually prefer it at this 21°C (obviously 3-4°C above optimum). The aroma is intense, past acidic and into meaty. Whilst the flavour continues through into a balance of marmite, stilton and hops - but with a wonderful, solid caramel base.
The texture is delightfully thick. It holds together extremely well. The melt is slow and envelopes your taste buds in a 13 tog duvet of incredible flavour. I just can't wait to try the 70% bar, that'll have to wait until next month. I know I've forgotten to mention where Upala is, well it’s in Costa Rica and not too far from Nicaragua.