Over the past few months, I fell into a deep writer's slump. I couldn't seem to find the motivation to put any words at all into my blogs, no matter how hard I tried. The chocolate I purchased bored me, and the cheeses I found were all too similar. It's not that anything was bad, except the Zoe chocolate bar with the extra rancid almonds on it - blah; it's more that I had a touch of writer's paralysis. There were things I wanted to say, but I could't bring myself to actually say them. For example, I liked the Valrhona I purchased and halfheartedly tossed some ideas about it around in my head, but I didn't bother to write an actual review. Valrhona has long been considered the best baking chocolate in the world by chefs. There were others, too, that were sampled and forgotten. I needed something to pull me out of my apathy.
|Figs in chocolate, an incredible combination.|
Finally I found the Cacao Sampaka line and got excited again. Actually, I found one bar, the dark chocolate with sea salt, hiding among a large selection of other bars in the specialty chocolate aisle at Whole Foods, a whole separate area away from the regular chocolate bar section. I also found some fancy figs covered in chocolate in the specialty imported food section, another separate aisle. Damn! Those sweet little dried nuggets of fruit dipped in chocolate are AhMazIng! So a fire was lit, and I got the urge to write again once I tasted something that got my taste buds fired up.
I couldn't find a lot of information about the Cacao Sampaka company. Most of the websites with reviews of the chocolate are in Spanish, which makes sense since the company originated in Spain. From what I could gather, rare cocoa beans from Mexico were used to create both the first classic and more exotic flavors of chocolate bars, and oh how I wish I could have tried some of the exotic flavors! The company even puts out a gin and tonic bar that sounds like it could be the equivalent of an evening beach party in your mouth.
I settled for the only option on the shelf, the dark chocolate bar with sea salt. This elegant bar seemed out of place by itself among full lines of other bars on the shelves. Perhaps it was a one-time extravagance for Whole Foods, because, sadly, I haven't seen this bar or any of its cousins again anywhere in Boulder. I guess I lucked out, or, if one thinks along these kinds of lines, one could claim it was fate.
What I noticed right away is that the chocolate is of a superior quality than most bars. The perfectly balanced flavors are the result of a chocolatier who knows what he's doing. This is no ordinary chocolate, though. Unlike many American sea salt and chocolate bars that taste like someone dipped a cow's salt lick in a thin layer of mediocre chocolate, this bar showcases the chocolate and adds a notable but not overwhelming bite of salt, just enough to enhance the chocolate.
|Dark chocolate with sea salt.|
The texture of the chocolate is interesting. If I say that it's a little bit sandy or grainy, don't be turned off, because, like with one of the French Broad chocolate bars I mentioned earlier that had a similar consistency, the very slight grittiness does nothing but add to the complexity and allure of the bar. Plus, the sandy texture is temporary and disappears as the bar melts into a smooth, rich mass of deliciousness in your mouth.
The chocolate is dark, but it's not bitter. The sweetness is subtle, as it should be with good dark chocolate.
If you're a chocolate connoisseur and get super stoked at the thought of something different in the chocolate world, you are in luck, because this bar is unique. I have't been this excited about chocolate in a long time, probably back when I was drooling over the Good & Evil bar, so if you can find the Cacao Sampaka line on any shelf, do yourself a favor a buy a bar. You won't regret it. If you do, send the bar to me, and I will very happily and quickly dispose of it in probably just a few bites.