Luke Owen Smith of The Chocolate Bar in New Zealand puts together amazing bean-to-bar chocolate bars from all over the world for a monthly chocolate subscription box as well as leads chocolate tastings. As if that wasn’t enough, want to know what else makes Luke pretty special? Sometime ago he found out that I never had the chance to try Marou’s no longer available Treasure Island bar so he sent me a piece from the last bar he had in his personal chocolate stash! When I was trying to locate Chocolate Naive’s one-off bar made with sea buckthorn, The Chocolate Bar was the only place I could find it listed any longer and Luke added an extra one to his site just so I could order it. In fact, my full order arrived quickly and in great condition from New Zealand all the way to where I live in Port Townsend, WA USA.
Luke recently sent me his newest creation, a monthly Chocolate Tasting Course. The course includes 4 bite-sized pieces from 4 different tasty craft chocolates by makers from around the world. The first 6 months of the course feature a different lesson card each of those months, such as How to Taste Chocolate and the very first box includes a chocolate tasting notebook.
Read on for my mini-interview with Luke followed by pictures of his new Chocolate Tasting Course and my video on the course too.
Recently Map Chocolate made one hundred 6 bar sets of special Map bars to raise funds for getting new molds and they have now arrived! Map Chocolate fans will note these bars have a different wrapper than normal. Per Map’s IG account: “The temporary packaging was inspired by shops that cover their windows while they’re re-doing the interior”.
Recently Dormouse Chocolates conducted an experiment of making two special chocolate bars: one from reddish-brown cacao pods only and a separate one with beans from yellow pods only, with the assistance of Kablon Farms in South Cotabato in the Philippines. Kablon Farms kept the reddish-brown and yellow pods separated and Dormouse Chocolates conducted the same roast, recipe and time of conching for each bar to see if there was a difference in taste with bars made with beans from different colored pods. Will there be? Let’s find out!
Chocolate Naive’s Nano_Lot collection made in Lithuania features a new chocolate bar every two months. Each bar is limited so if you see one be sure to get it!
What does it take to become a Chocolate Naive Nano_Lot bar? To quote Domantas Užpalis when I recently interviewed him: “Scarcity, flavour and background. I wanted to create the product that constantly evolves and tells a story or two”.
In celebration of Zotter’s 30th anniversary they introduced this Vintage 2016 dry-aged dark chocolate bar which is described on their web site as “a superior cuvée made of dry-aged fine flavour cocoa, which we have aged for a year in order to mature its aroma. It is a blend of 5 fine cocoa varieties from 4 different countries, and of course the legendary Criollo is part of the mix”.
Sirene Chocolate is a craft chocolate maker located in Victoria, B.C., that makes bean-to-bar bars with direct trade chocolate.
Their Pure Cacao Pur set features two 100% bars so you can compare Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania and Costa Esmeraldas, Ecuador in one sitting. The bars are labeled in an easy to tell one bar from the other, in both written word and by the color of each bar’s foil wrapper (gold and silver).
I first tried this bar during Hazel Lee’s Taste with Colour workshop in November at the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA. Luckily there were some for sale at the show. (This bar is the reason why bubble gum is listed as a tasting note on her flavour map).
Mission Chocolate is a small batch craft chocolate maker located in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This inclusion bar has the dried pulp of cupuaçu scattered generously on the back of the bar. Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum) is related to cacao. The three ingredients in this Brazil 2016 harvest bar are cacao, sugar and the cupuaçu.