Sunday, November 23, 2008
Review: Amano's Jembrana and Cuyagua Bars
It took some convincing, but I finally talked Art Pollard over at Amano Chocolate into a bar of his new Jembrana chocolate. This is an interesting bar, to be sure. I've been tasting it half a square at a time all weekend. See, that's the thing about Amano: you don't eat a whole bar at once. It would just be a waste of money, and the enjoyment factor would be off.
The beans for this chocolate came out of the island of Jambrana, out in Bali. I understand there aren't a whole lot of beans that come out of Bali, which makes these extra special. Like Art's other chocolates, this doesn't taste like your run-of-the-mill chocolate. It is best consumed only a square at a time.
When you pop a square in your mouth, it starts off with a pretty familiar chocolate flavor. But it takes off pretty quickly, developing into a dark, deep flavor. There are light sour and bitter notes, but no harshness. It's definitely fruity, but not a fresh fruitiness like you get from Amano's bars. It's more developed; the difference between a fresh concord grape, and an aged pinot noir. This bar isn't for kiddies, it's for the big girls and boys.
While I'm talking about Amano, I'd better mention Art's Cuyagua bar. This one came out a while ago, and quite frankly I'm surprised he has any left. They didn't get very many beans for it in the first place, and it's been labelled "Limited Edition" because they don't know if they're ever going to get any more. That's your cue to snap up the last remaining bars before some other guy in New York beats you to it.
This is a single-origin chocolate from Venezuela, from the valley of Cuyagua. It's a lot more accessible than his first two offerings, as the actual chocolate flavor is more pronouced. There is a distinct fruitiness reminiscent of the Madagascar bar. My wife found it to have a very crisp, clean taste, while I picked up a slight bitterness that actually complimented the fruit quite nicely. It has a slightly darker flavor, but not from the overroasting that one might experience in other brands. There is a very light smokiness, that you might not pick up unless you were actually looking for it. It is definitely a bar to be savored slowly, and carefully.
If you are planning a chocolate tasting, this may be a more appropriate bar to include than other Amano varieties. Warning: it will provide a sharp contrast to other brands, and may cause your tasters to be unable to eat conventional chocolate afterwards. If you were to use all four current Amano varieties in your tasting, I think I might recommend Ocumare first, then Cuyagua followed by Jambrana and finally, Madagascar.
Then again, if you're planning on doing such a tasting, I'd suggest you hurry. Like I said, when Cuyagua's gone, it's probably gone for good.
Posted by Joseph at 5:46 PM