TLM and I have been enjoying our home-based Easter holidays (saving for the wedding means we need to 1. not go on frivolous holidays and 2. spend free time scoping out venues and visiting vicars etc) and so we popped down to my parents in Devon and had a wonderful sunny time and have been enjoying our flat, our garden and the city since we returned.
Yesterday we were plodding around town and I suddenly spotted a large poster for Willie's Cacao and felt compelled to go in and buy some. Who? What? I would have been asking that myself a few weeks ago - as we don't have a television - but whilst at my parents' house, and with their recommendation, we watched a programme about a whackily enthusiastic chocomaniac who prizes the purest chocolate. His name is Willie and his most recent adventures have been a foray into the world of eating chocolate (as opposed to 100% cacao cooking chocolate). Not all has run smoothly - the lack of a wrapping machine, leaving 24,000 bars to be wrapped by hand, springs to mind. You can read an interview with him here. So that, combined with a Westcountry loyalty lead me to buy two of his bars:
The first, Peruvian 70 which is 70% cacao and has 'subtle tropical fruit notes' and the second, Venezuelan 72 which is 72% cacao and has 'smooth fruity notes'. Marco Pierre White could taste the difference. Would I?
First things first, the packaging is exquisite. Small, square boxes containing two 40g bars of chocolate. The fact that 'delectable' was written down the side of the box was noted in the programme, but what won me over was the clever little note on the inner tab of the lid:
Inside, the bars were slightly less swish-looking but I assume these were part of the hand-wrapped batch? I forgave it.
I could smell the chocolate by this point and started to get quite excited. I had my glass of water ready and best tastebuds prepared. I slipped the square of chocolate from the wrapper and it was glossy and thick. I hate those Lindt chocolate bars that are firstly too thin and ridged, and then far too creamy. These bars though, looked fantastic. As I looked at one I thought about how much they cost (£3.45 per box!) and tried to justify it to myself - not just because we didn't go abroad, but also because you'd spend £3.45 on a bumper Toblerone in duty free. As someone who has worked her bum off (literally?) to lose two stone since January, it seems perfectly sensible to spend the same on something smaller but better quality.
I felt good about the bar before I even began. I took the Peruvian first and snapped it in half - and it had a great snap. I compared with the Venezuelan and it too cracked leaving beautifully distinct halves - none of this rumpled, wrinkly looking stuff that melts as you try to break through its prescriptive lines.
I felt more at home with 70% cacao so started with the Peruvian. To taste, it had a sweet, pineapply tang and in terms of texture it was smooth: it didn't try to stick to my teeth or taint my mouth like some dark chocolate does. Smooth and sweet without being cloying or creamy - excellent.
The Venezuelan next. We were both stunned to find that not only could we taste the difference, but we could detect a difference in texture too. TLM immediately declared it his favourite. It was mellower than the Peruvian, not as zingy or surprising. In texture it was noticeably chalkier than the other bar, not unpleasantly so and only really dry in comparison to the first. The only thing I can possible compare it to are the short, thick coffees you have at the end of a Middle-Eastern meal.
Neither had that vicious bitterness you find with dark chocolate - and neither was dry or claggy in texture. Sometimes dark chocolate feels insubstantial - they tend to pour it quite thin maybe? but snapping this off just as I wanted it was wonderful. Truly excellent chocolate, like I've never tasted before.
I still have a bar of each, and wonder if I can bring myself to enjoy them without analysing - there was almost a reason to have such expensive chocolate if I was dissecting it. Will I enjoy it quite so much in the bath? Watch this space!