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Had the opportunity once to try a Chocolate piece made from Porcelana Cacao, from the Andean Region in my country Venezuela. How I can describe that experience??? SUBLIME!!!!!! Any other Chocolate lovers able to express their experiences or opinions?

www.therepublicofchocolate.blogspot.com

Tags: Cacao, Chocolate, Of, Porcelana, Republic, The, Venezuela

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Hans,
In a comment on the Bonnat Porcelana article I asked the following question--
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"...you said, “Valrhona also has another Porcelana bar readily available: Palmira. That’s a little known fact Valrhona is slowly revealing to the public.”

Thanks for that info. It’s good to know. You always have good information. I’m curious about whether that kind of information is publicly available to the avg consumer, like me, or did you find that out from people you know or other insider connections that you have?"
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Since that comment is awaiting moderation I thought I'd ask it here too.
I haven't tried tried procelana. My business partner says it makes great chocolate. We make a hot drink out of the 100% cacao. (it is close to coffee, but so much more healthy) The best is Venezuela Tucani'. But it is hard to say what porcelanawould taste like.

Tyler
Thanks for the words of encouragement! It's wonderful to know firsthand that my articles are very helpful :)

I replied to your comment on my blog, Olorin, but to avoid going allllllll the way back there, I basically said that I found out about the Palmira-Porcelana connection through an insider source AND on a website I saw in the same week (strange coincidence, huh?). I think the author on that website said that he was told directly by Valrhona, though I could be wrong so don't quote me. I don't like to say things with certainty unless I'm positive and even then I tend to tread carefully and speak in conjecture because of the countless variables involved :)

That Bonnat Porcelana somehow escaped by bad-choco radar but it'll get in that Dishonorable Mention article. Thanks for pointing that out, btw...I would've missed it again! You know what's interesting? Alex told me that more than once he received Bonnat bars with the wrong wrappers, so there might be a good chance I received a bar that is not Porcelana, although the intrinsic flavors we tasted are similar so I don't know. Maybe different batches?

Just wondering, but does anyone remember about three years ago or so that Domori's Porcelana was really, really, really awful? I bought two bars from Chocosphere and was expecting the same excellent quality as before, but the chocolate was bitter and tart, tasting like Granny Smith apples and potting soil. Jerry confirmed and noted the same traits in other random bars in his stock, and there's actually a thread on Seventypercent about this. I just wanted to bring this quality issue into the light again, basically reinforcing the idea that just because the name is Porcelana doesn't always mean the chocolate will be good, or more importantly, consistent with what we know about it already. There's just way too many forces at work for us to get a confident grip on what it's all about.
I spoke with a NYC based Regional Sales Manager from Valrhona today at the Fancy Food Show in NY. He confirmed for me that the Palmira is indeed Porcelana. He also said it is the same as the Porcelana de Pedegral bar that Valrhona sells in Europe. If I understood him correctly, it was a marketing decision not to pacakage the bar with Porcelana indicated on the box because the large majority of consumers would not be familar with the term.

Furthermore, I discussed porcelana with a few other people at the show. The Mexican version of porcelana, that Pierre Marcolini and now Coppeneur have made bars with, is not considered a true porcelana. Regardless, Art Pollard of Amano, had a slide show presentation of photograghs at his booth. One of which was a porcelana bean from the estate in Mexico (located in Tobasco) that grows them. The meat of the bean was purely white, clearly resembling porcelana in appearance. It was a beautiful picture. Apparently there is only one small estate in Mexico with this bean, currently owned by a lady in her 70's, who inherited the land from her father.
QUOTE: "The meat of the bean was purely white, clearly resembling porcelana in appearance. "

What other colors are there for the pulp/ meat/ inside of a cacao pod?
The pulp around the seeds is white. The seeds, when cut, are anywhere from pure white, to pink, to light purple, to deep purple.

Not all pure white beans are Criollo, let alone Porcelana. Porcelana cacao has a certain fruit shape and color. See page 86 of Presilla's "New Taste of Chocolate" for an example.

Here is a photo I took at the Estacion Experimental Chama in December 2006 when I was there. The trees really are beautiful:
http://www.patric-chocolate.com/blog/images/porcelana.jpg

You can see that the fruit looks quite different from the average cacao fruit, Criollo or otherwise.
It has an interesting nipple-like protrusion. I can't remember correctly, but isn't that a trait of Porcelana?
Hans,

All of the Porcelana fruit that I saw at the estacion had this nipple, but so have other fruit I have seen that are not Porcelana, including fruit from trees referred to as non-porcelana Criollo and Trinitario.
Olorin- I probably shouldn't have used the word 'meat' to describe the inside of the bean, but that is what I was referring to. As Alan clarified, cacao pulp (or mucilage) surrounds the beans and is a thick moist substance that you first see when a pod is cut open. Each bean(or seed) has a thin shell. I was using 'meat' to refer to the bean without the shell. Alan's picture of the porcelana pod is great. It's actually better than the picture he refers to in Presilla's book. Although if you are not familiar with her book you should look for it. It does have alot of great pod, tree and bean photos. Alan's photo is of a white pod, but pod color isn't always white with porcelana and isn't the best indicator of what type of bean is in any pod. Overall, I thought pod color, size and shape were poor indicators of what type of cacao bean it holds. On the other hand, I thought physical characteristics of the bean were a reliable way to determine cacao type.

Alan, what other beans are you aware of with a white color that isn't criollo? Even M. Presilla alluded to the proof of a good porcelana was the pure white color (paraphrased from pg 90). Also, did you happen to see the photo I was referring to at Amano's booth?
Hi Brady,

I saw Art quite a bit, but never made it to his booth unfortunately.

As for the Porcelana, Presilla notes on p 90 that pure white beans in Porcleana give away the Criollo ancestry, but this does not mean that all pure white beans are Porcelana, as there are other Criollo populations as well.

Porcelana cacao is simply one population of Criollo cacao. True Criollo, which is so rare that some experts don't believe it even really exists anymore, has pure white seeds, but doesn't all look externally like Porcelana does. Interestingly, there is at least one rare Forastero population that has pure white seeds. If I recall correctly, Bartley talks about this in his "Genetic Diversity of Cacao and its Utilization" though, unfortunately, I don't have the time to try and track down the citation.

You are right that pod shape, size, and color are not the best indicators of what you will find inside, but they are not 100% unreliable either. When it comes to Porcelana, it is the external appearance that distinguishes it from other Criollo--term used loosely--populations.

Best,

Alan
Hi Brady,

That Forastero type with white cotyledons is apparently the Brazilian catongo.

Best,

Alan
I notice that there were several TheChocolateLife members at The Fancy Food Show - and I also noticed that you all appear to have missed a Porcelana announcement.

On Tuesday I was collared by the exclusive importer of Bonnat into the US, Francoise Bureau-Crook of Crossings French Foods in Boston (the also import Castelain among other brands). Francoise shared with me that starting later this summer, Bonnat will be producing three Porcelana bars. In addition to the one they are producing now they will be adding a Mexican-origin bar and I forget the origin of the third. I will follow up and let you know.

On another note, the success of the plantation in Tabasco state Mexico that is the source for most of the Mexican Porcelana has encouraged many other farmers in the region to start growing it. The quality has been highly variable due to a lack of consistency in fermentation, so my hope is that the increasing interest in the bean will mean more direct assistance by companies to address those issues. Finally, for those who make it to Spain, Cacao Sampaka produces a bar from those Mexican Porcelana beans. Cacao Sampaka is not imported into the US, but I've tried a fair selection of bars brought back by friends and their work is usually very good. The Mexican Porcelana was very fruity and astringent and not really at all pleasant. Again, this hearkens back to the quality of post-harvest processing practices I mentioned earlier.

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