You need to understand something. I love Ecuadorian chocolate. A few years ago I went to a chocolate tasting with E Guittard, and my favorite sample was a piece of dark chocolate from Ecuador that was just awesome. Ever since, I'm always on the lookout for single-bean origin chocolate from Ecuador. Venezuelan is easy to find. So is Columbian. Unfortunately, Ecuadorian seems to be a pretty rare find.
This leads me to today's story. I was at the airport today, and I ran into none other than Art Pollard from Amano Chocolate. He was on his way to a village in Ecuador called Guayas. This did not surprise me. Art spends a lot of time meeting with the farmers that are growing his cacao beans. But what did surprise me was when I found out that this particular trip was paid for by the Ecuadorian government.
You see, while Amano isn't known for large production quantiies, they are known for high quality. If you don't believe me, ask the Ecuadorian government, who has been so impressed with the quality of Amano chocolate that they want to use them to help promote the sale of Ecuadorian cocoa. Amano has officially become the Michael Jordon of the chocolate world; they are no longer just selling themselves, their fame is being used to sell people too.
Art had a bag with him filled with bars of his new Ecuadorian chocolate, named Guayas, after the village which produced the beans. He gave me a bar, and was so excited about it that he wouldn't let me walk off without trying it and telling him what I thought.
I broke off a square and put it in my mouth. The first thing that hit me was the deep smokiness that I love so much in Ecuadorian chocolate. It was followed by a subtle hint of earthiness, and then a bitterness that was not unwelcome. Then came the fruitiness. The bitterness had woken up my taste buds, and they were ready to embrace that intense fruitiness. But unlike Amano's Madagascar bar, this fruitiness was accompanied by that familiar chocolate flavor that we all know from lesser, gateway chocolates. As the chocolate melted away, any bitterness that was there was replaced by the vanishing flavor of fruit and chocolate that left me wanting for more.
I wish I could tell you to go out and buy this right now, but I can't. While the bars have been formed and wrapped in foil, as of the time of this writing the boxes are still being printed. This bar won't hit the market for another 3 to 4 weeks. As much as I'm tempted to end this post with a couple of "neeners", the truth is, I will probably be going through withdrawl myself before I make it back to Utah, and will still have a couple more weeks before I can buy any more. So in a way, I'm kind of in the same boat as you guys. Except that I got to taste it first.
Disclaimer: If you didn't know before now, it should be obvious from this post that I know and am friends with Art. If that makes me seem biased, then clearly the only solution is for you to buy a bar and decide for yourself.