Last Saturday night a group of Bloggers and Tweeters got together to taste some chocolate. This wasn’t your mother’s chocolate though. This was award winning artisan chocolate from around the world.
Now, I like to think of myself as a chocolate connoisseur. I’ve always liked dark over milk and never, ever under any circumstances *white*. I have tried both of the local brands (BT McElrath and Rogue) and I will skip a 2lb bag of M&M’s in favor of a fancy 6oz bar dusted with Sea Salt…and make it last for weeks.
That said, I eat my fair share of candy. I like candy. I’m not above grabbing a Peanut Butter Twix while waiting for my turn to pay at Target. Maybe a 3 Musketeers Truffle Bar….or two.
But Saturday night…Saturday night was all about good chocolate.
Really good chocolate.
The kind where you can let a one inch square melt on your tongue and not have a need for another piece.
Bona Vita is a small company in the Twin Cities who’s passion is to promote ethically produced, delicious chocolate. Something that is often very difficult to find here. They strive to educate likeminded chocolate lovers and provide them a place to purchase and enjoy these tantilizing treats.
Bona Vita is bringing their knowledge and passion for chocolate to the Twin Cities through small and large group tastings and seminars where they do a presentation and walk you through different high end chocolates.
Our presentation was quite thorough.
Did you know that the majority of cacao beans are produced on farms that are 5 acres or less? Even the chocolate that is mass produced (think Hershey’s) starts out on a small farm. Did you know that most cacao bean farmers have never tasted the finished product? How do you produce the best product if you don’t know what you are aiming for in the end? did you know that the majority of cacao beans are produced for quantity and heartiness as opposed to taste?
There are some small artisan chocolate companies based around the world who are trying to bring back the best the cacao bean has to offer. They are cultivating the Criollo plant (the best most aromatic and most rare cacao plant) and working with the farmers from step one so they can be part of the process from the ground up. They are changing the way the world (at least some of the world) looks at chocolate.
We started with a roasted Criollo cacao bean. Never in my life have I had a whole cacao bean. Maybe some cacao nibs in a Nibby Bar, but never a whole roasted bean. I expected the taste to rival that of a coffee bean.
It was delicious, and quite unlike a coffee bean. Nutty and rich and smooth at the same time. No bitterness and just a hint of sweetness to finish.
From their we moved on to a Slitti– Grancacao 90% from Central America. At 90% it has very little processing and starts out a bit on the bitter end, as you might suspect, and then mellows right at the end.
After that shock of chocolate we were given a piece of mass produced chocolate of unspecified cacao content…it didn’t even taste like chocolate. It felt grainy on the tongue and left me feeling like I was missing out. For this dark chocolate loving girl, the let down was pretty extreme.
We moved on to a chocolate produced in Seattle, the Theo– Jane Goodall 45% from Central America. Theo is the first Fair Trade, organic chocolate company in the United States. If Theo could overtake Hershey’s, we would all be much better off.
After Theo, we moved back to a brand we had just been introduced to moments before: Slitti. The Slitti- Lattenero 51% from South America. Lattenero means Black Milk and this piece aims to please both the dark and milk chocolate lovers of the world and is quite good.
Next up was L’Artigiano- Extra fondente alSale Solce di Cervia, min. 54% from Ecuador. If I could eat this one chocolate for the rest of my life, i would be one happy woman. The salt hits your tongue and the sweet and the….My eyes about rolled back in my skull this was so good. My favorite of the night
The Amano– Madagascar, min. 70% from Africa was next. It’s amazing how different chocolate can taste with just a change in location of where the beans are grown. No need to add nuts or fruit or caramel here. The fruitiness of this really shines through on it’s own.
Last, but certainly not least (I think Yogi Dad starred this as his favorite of the night) was the Domori- Teyuna, min. 70% from Columbia. Silky, slow melting, pure pleasure.
After we had finished out plate of chocolate I expected to feel like I needed to be rolled out of there, but I wanted to keep going. Sadly, the evening was coming to a close.
We toasted with some champagne and left with a head full of excitement. Who knew a night spent learning could be so much fun?
Bona Vita has a Friday night Happy Hour from 4-6pm at the Italian Cultural Center located in the Hennepin Center for the Arts, Suite 502.
I can’t think of a better way to end a work week.
If you are interested, please check out Bona Vita on Facebook and their website where you can learn more about upcoming events and classes!