[A repost from 2012]
Mediocrity is the word that seems to define our generation. You can turn on your thousand-channel cable TV and find nothing worth watching. You can walk into a newsagent and be met with hundreds of magazines - none of which is worth reading. The same can be said for the multitude of companies that make chocolate 'by numbers' - playing it safe in the pursuit of increasing profits, or to at the very least to make sales. In itself there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but making chocolate the right way is a time-consuming, risky business. However, if you stick to your principles, have the desire to excel, be different and avoid compromise then something magical can result.
Colin Gasko, the self-styled Rogue Chocolatier may not be the Harry Potter of the chocolate world in that he doesn't grab the headlines or make too much of scene, he does, however, make damn fine chocolate the authentic way. All that goes into his chocolate is cacao beans and cane sugar. Colin substitutes vanilla and soya lecithin with hard work and talent. In a short space of time, he has learned how to work with the bean to produce some beautiful chocolate worth taking notice of.
Of course this Hispaniola bar comes from the Dominican Republic, where exactly I don't know. But I do know that he's managed to create a truly excellent bar. There's nothing exuberant or rambunctious as may expected given the source, instead there's a somewhat sharp acidity that plays a duet against the pronounced red fruit notes - it’s almost like combining olive oil with balsamic vinegar with roasted red peppers.
To get most of the bar, it’s essential to unlocking its flavour by pushing the chocolate to the front of your mouth and let the resident heat melt it and transport the liquid chocolate over your taste buds. I'm sure I read 'pina colada' somewhere as a description for this bar and there's certainly a rich creaminess lurking below the fruity acidity - but nowhere near as much as the faux commercial bars foist upon us. Instead, this chocolate offers a thin sliver of subtle flavour that is more akin to fine rather than fast food.
What I also love about this bar is the variability of flavour. Some instances I'd get that strawberries and cream tone, but others I'd get an almost horseradish experience. Not knowing what the next piece brings is part of the enjoyment of the small-batch chocolate.
It's interesting that the aroma doesn't offer a great deal of a hint as to the beautiful, yet elegant flavours contained within. Instead, it just offers a one-dimensional aroma that, although clean, isn't overly inspiring. But what makes the bar special is the partnership between the sweet acidity with the delightful texture that needs no extra effort to consume. This bar certainly isn't 'hard work' as so many others I've reviewed recently.
I've not mentioned the delightful of the packaging either. It's formed from a card wrap-around and a red mid-Victorian looking design. It's this extra, artistic effort put into the visuals that certainly sets the scene of the joy contained within.
If this chocolate is a portent of what this year holds, then I'm going to be enjoying some very interesting, delightful chocolate.