Saturday, 31 December 2011

Gran Couva - 2011 Vintage from Valrhona

Have left Christine doing some interesting manual work, she is so much better at it than me.  I decided to start my New Year's resolution before 2012 actually arrived in the UK.  How daring of me.   If you're one of those who uses a gym and never ventures outside it, then I suggest you do, as you're missing more than old episodes of Friends.  Take today for example, being a bit of a Twitcher I spotted a Green Woodpecker and Kingfisher, both vibrant birds found in the Essex countryside.  Joggers, there were a plenty and I came across one that was pushing a wheelbarrow through Chelmsford park.  Curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't resist asking him why he was pushing a barrow.  He said it was to strengthen his arms which sounded reasonable but then he went onto say that he was going shopping in Chelmsford.  The conversation became a bit wacky after that so, I wished him well and quickly up'd my pace.  Perhaps, I should think about joining a gym in the New Year?

Well, we're finishing the year on a high with a bar from Valrhona.  This is the first time we've featured a bar from the house of Valrhona and the anticipation is palpable. The company originally started in 1922, known as La Vivarais, but it wasn't until 1947 that the brand came onto the seen. The name Valrhona was derived from the Rhone Valley. The Ecole du Grand Chocolat, opened in 1989, by the celebrated pastry chef and chocolatier Frederic Bau. I've never visited but I've been reliably informed that it is probably the best in the world by a number of chefs who have been lucky enough to attend their courses. See website for more information, Valrhona.

The Chocolate: This particular bar is from Trinidad an historic source of Trinitario cocoa beans. Nestling in the fertile hillsides of Montserrat, the little village of Gran Couva is home of one of the island's oldest plantations. This is an estate grown bar of chocolate with a 64% cocoa content. The initial aroma is very fruity with rich cocoa in the background.  The mouth feel is glassy. A hint of tobacco and leather as the first chunk slowly melts followed by rich cocoa that has a pleasant sweetness about it with tobacco flavours coming in and out. The chocolate is not as intense as I thought it was going to be. Perhaps I prefer a bitter chocolate after all these years! Interestingly, I tasted a Single Origin chocolate from Peru with a 64% cocoa content and noticed an explosion of coconut that I'd never experienced before. How revealing!

Overall a delicious bar of chocolate and I look forward to tasting the two other bars, El Pedregal from Venezuela and Ampamakia from Madagascar. This bar scores 7/10 as it was delicious but I was slightly disappointed by the strength of flavours. You can purchase this bar from The Chocolate Trading Co for £4.75.
Posted by Richard.

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