In my continuing adventures to bring you some of the more interesting chocolates from around the globe, and get through as much of my chocolate before the meltdown of summer heat attacks my chocolate stash, you might remember a few months back I wrote about a conversation I had when I shocked some unworldly women (who…me?) that asked me which country makes the best chocolate.
For a few years now, I’ve been swapping messages with Art Pollard of Amano chocolate who has spent ten years searching for cacao and learning how to make artisan chocolate tablets at the company he started in Utah. But it wasn’t until just a few months ago I was able to taste his handcrafted chocolate, which he sent me here in Paris.
Amano isn’t currently making a whole slew of chocolates, but is concentrating on two different bars: A tablet of Ocumare chocolate, and another made from chocolate from Madagascar. I’m a big fan of Ocumare chocolate in general, which is considered one of the finest cacao beans in the world. Grown in Venezuela, some manufacturers claim it’s a criollo bean, and I’ve been told various stories that dispute that, and many chocolate experts agree that pure criollo chocolate doesn’t really exist anymore.
I’ll let the geneticists work that out, and concentrate on the taste of the chocolate. Luckily I had help during this tasting from Pam Williams, who runs Ecole Chocolat, an online school for budding chocolatiers. (That’s her hand with the girly-girl ring, not mine.) An expert on chocolate, Pam and I snapped the chocolate into manly-sized pieces and we tasted away.