15 Oct2007

martin1

When Martin, a food blogger from Argentina, read my earlier entry on Scharffenberger and other dark chocolates, he left a comment about some excellent chocolate being made at an award winning, century old factory in Argentina (with beans from all the greatest sources in South America). He was heading to Cebu on business a few weeks later and graciously offered to send me some samples of the chocolate. A few weeks later, he emailed from Cebu and his hotel was just a few hundred meters from our family’s office in the city! Regrettably, I was not in Cebu that week but we still managed to “exchange” presents. He sending these two utterly superb bars of dark chocolate, and me sending him some dried mangoes and pinasugbo or consilva…

These “single origin” bars of chocolate are made from cacao beans from a specific region. The green bar in the photo, for example, is from Ecuador and the write-up on the back of the bar is so well done that I will quote it instead of writing a description in my own words:

“The largest percentage (about 95%) of the cocoa produced in the world is a variety known as Forastero, which means “outsider” in Spanish. It is so named because it grew “outside” the traditional cocoa regions….Several sub-varieties of Forastero exist, each with its own distinct characteristics, highly dependent on its “terroir,” or place of origin. A good example is the province of Esmeraldas, north of Ecuador, where a very special cocoa is obtained. Its remarkable absence of acidity, and its unique combination of sweet soft flavours clearly differentiate this cocoa from the deeper floral “arriba aroma” frequently found in other Ecuadorian cocoas.” And the taste? Superb. I am savoring a small piece right now as I type this. It is intensely flavorful and aromatic, and it is powerful yet smooth, a beautifully prepared bar of chocolate. Utterly delicious, and would certainly hold up to any of the fancier brands I mentioned in the earlier posts on dark chocolate…

The blue bar, made from Venezuelan cacao beans, however, was the family favorite. I can’t describe how one bar of chocolate would be noticeably better than the other, since they were both extremely good, but the blue bar got a unanimous vote from Mrs. MM, The Kid and myself. Let me quote from the back of the blue box:

“Trinitario cocoa is the hybrid of Criollo and Forastero varieties. It takes its name from the island of Trinidad, where it first appeared in the 18th century, after the native Criollo plants were devastated by severe storms. To replace them, the more durable Forastero variety was introduced. In time, the Roastero plants began hybridizing with the residual Criollos, giving birth to the Trinitario variety.This new variety maintains the main characteristics of its ancestors – the strength of the Forastero and the deep and delicate flavors of Criollo…. Although it is considered a Trinitario, it is technically a mixture of the native Criollo and samples of Trinatario cocoas introduced during the last century. This makes our Carenero 70% a very special “cru”, its strong Criollo ancestry filtering through, resulting in a complex chocolate with lasting flavors.” And the taste? One of the most intensely flavored bars of 70% I have ever tasted in my life. And it was unbelievably smooth and creamy, almost as though it had more milk but it apparently did not. Definitely one of the top 3 plain bars of dark chocolate I have ever tried.

Muchas gracias Martin for hand carrying these wonderful chocolates halfway around the world! I am honored to have tasted them…

Green Box: Salgado Crande Cru, Esmeraldas from Ecuador, Forastero Variety
Blue Box: Salgado Grande Cru, Carenero Superior from Venezuela, Trinitaria Variety

7. YOU

 

COMMENTS:

  1. BILABENG says:

    I definitely going to check this chocolate. This year while hanging out at the Ferry Building Farmer’s market in SF, (our first list of places to go when were at the city) I bought the T-Shirt from Scharffenberger Chocolotier that says “EXTRA BITTER’. Love the attention i get, not that i needed it, I just needed their chocolate more. Love eating them with straberries.

    Oct 15, 2007 | 9:04 am

     
  2. Lissa says:

    Hello! If anyone spots these chocolates in Manila, please share the location with us! I’m a dark chocolate fan, and can’t wait to taste these, just from MM’s descriptions. = )

    Oct 15, 2007 | 9:11 am

     
  3. Apicio says:

    For those who read Spanish, his post on these chocolates are precious, and the comments, one of them coming from the producer of the chocolates themselves, is quite the heads-up for your taste buds. He even gave a list of the shops where you can buy them (in BA) including Salgado’s fabrica. Now I know where to nose around and what to max my luggage allowance with instead of the usual San Isidro dulce de leche.

    Oct 15, 2007 | 11:31 am

     
  4. ibe says:

    i’m also a dark chocolate fan. i love monbana – french dark chocolates!!

    Oct 15, 2007 | 7:31 pm

     
  5. bijin says:

    mm, that’s my sister up there—bilabeng. she’s nuts about chocolate but i must have nuts in my chocolate to enjoy them. must hunt for these chocolates for her.

    yup, ferry building’s farmer’s market is a must!

    Oct 15, 2007 | 7:33 pm

     
  6. Thelma says:

    My husband and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE chocolates. I would like to ask you opinion if it would be worth spending a thousand dollars on the most expensive sundae cosisting of the most expensive chocolate “amedei porceleana”
    I sent my 3 sisters and 2 brothers to college. They are all here in the States with properous lives. Sent a niece to medical school (sent her to Merriam, U.P. & UST). Bought my sister in 1991 a townhouse and a car for $75K (cash)when she was in the Philippines. Send a nephew to College at Merriam College.
    On my 60th birthday in 2010, I would like to go to New York (been there 3 times) to have this sundae.
    My super wonderful husband said I deserve it for all the sacrifices I did for my families and he would not mind buying it for me. I VERY MUCH VALUE YOUR OPINION!

    Oct 16, 2007 | 12:55 am

     
  7. Maria Clara says:

    With high tech equipment and some refurbished machineries and tools, and great interest in good quality chocolates every country comes with a distinct blend of chocolates both as table and cooking variety! French chocolates which dominate the market in the 80s and early 90s are faced with worldwide market competition from different countries.

    Oct 16, 2007 | 1:38 am

     
  8. martin says:

    Hey :)
    I’m glad you liked the chocolate. For those who are interested, I’m not sure where you can find this chocolate outside .ar, we have a list of places where you can buy it in Buenos Aires and Cordoba; if you happen to be here, check: http://elcuerpodecristo.com/wiki/Chocolate%20Salgado

    Anyway, this incredible quality chocolate is pretty unexpensive here, around 15usd / kilo (the blue one, which is the most expensive one); so, maybe you can import a few hundred kilos, for your pleasure (and your future grandchildren :)

    The website for the chocolate factory is: http://www.chocolatesfenix.com

    Dried mangoes are great: I brought 5kg in my backpack! (true! 30x100gms + 10x200gms bags!). I haven’t tried the pinasugbo, yet. I was tempted to bring some lapu lapu, but I was worried about customs :)

    Oct 16, 2007 | 12:04 pm

     
  9. Marketman says:

    Martin, THANK YOU so much for the wonderful chocolate. I am surprised that we also picked out the pricier version… I would love to import some chocolate, but would be worried it would melt in transit! Will have to visit Argentina instead! :)

    Oct 16, 2007 | 12:39 pm

     
  10. sub-urbanrambler says:

    heading to BA in 3 weeks; thanks for the mention of the chocolates from Argentina. they will make good pasalubong when coming back to the states. i enjoy reading your blog!

    Oct 17, 2007 | 7:35 am

     
  11. MegaMom says:

    I’m a big dark chocolate fan too, and I’ve seen and tasted Salgado in Australia, another place where you can buy wonderful artisanal chocolate, although I understand that none of the beans are actually grown there but are imported from Africa and Latin America.
    Re: bringing in LOTS of chocolate for personal consumption, I check them in (cargo temp is way cooler than cabin) but I also pack some cold/ice gel packs around them to “protect” them while sitting on the tarmac. (I buy these from drug stores for 200 pesos per 5’x8′ pack.) Gel packs are not allowed in cabin.
    I’ve done this many times with success, although I imagine that the flight time would affect success rate.

    Oct 17, 2007 | 10:01 am

     
  12. artisan chocolatier says:

    If you’re in San Francisco’s marina area, drop by Cocoabella Chocolates (2102 Union St), This is chocolate shop selling the best tasting chocolates made by small, family owned and operated chocolatiers from all over the world.

    And at the Ferry building, drop by Recchiuti Confections (aside from Scharffen Berger)for some of the best chocolate creations.

    Across the bay, drop by Emeryville (where Ikea and Pixar studios are located) and visit Charles Chocolates (65th at Hollis St). At Charles (www.charleschocolates.com), you can sit at their bar and sip hot chocolate and/or eat their confections while watching the chocolatiers make all their confection in their 6,700 square foot kitchen. The experience of tasting freshly made chocolates and watching how its made is totally awesome. And if you happen to meet Chuck Siegel (Charles Chocolate himself) or talk to any of the chocolatiers, tell them Carlos (I was until my return to the Philippines, on of their senior chocolatiers) referred you to them. Who knows you might get some freebies or discounts.

    You can then hop over to Berkeley (less than a mile away) and visit Scharffen Bergers factory (914 Heinz Ave) and also buy stuff fresh.

    While in Berkely scoot over to 4th st. This is Berkeley upscale shopping district and one of the most original in the bay area. This is an eclectic, cafe-society kind of place. Stores to visit…NapaStyle, Teance (for tea), The Pasta Shop, Sur la Table…

    Oct 21, 2007 | 6:56 am

     
  13. benoit nicolay says:

    new sensation in manila for chocolates lover… Quality, Freshness, Attention to detail, Authentic:

    All chocolates and pralines are exclusively made from top quality imported ingredients, from the chocolate couvertures to the flavors and other ingredients we use.

    We guarantee that each chocolate is freshly made, thus, maximizing the eating pleasure from every bite.

    We put attention to all the details, from color, to texture and finally taste so from the moment you lay your eyes on our chocolate the enjoyment begins. Each bite you take is considered so you feel the crispness, smoothness and flavor of the chocolate as it melts in your mouth. This is a symphony of experience like no other.

    Finally, we only offer you the most authentic fine Belgian chocolates in the Philippines. Not only are all our ingredients imported from Belgium, it is also hand-made by our Belgian Chocolatier. check our website : http://www.chocolatesbybenoit.com

    Oct 30, 2007 | 9:33 am

     
 

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