Saturday, 28 January 2012

Ampamakia - Valrhona

Dentures flossed, mouth cleansed of all gunk, teeth adequately brushed for no more than two minutes and sluiced out with cold, refreshing mountain water and we're ready to go!  Well, mountain water might be verging on the ridiculous but I do take the job of chocolate tasting very seriously and preparation is one important aspect in the process.  It's almost a sport.  Perhaps, there is still time for 'chocolate tasting' to be submitted as a competition for London 2012?  I'm sure Lord Coe could squeeze in a little game of chocolate tasting, perhaps between beach volley ball and weight lifting!  It is ironic to think that a sporting competition, whose athletes train for years and religiously count every calorie, vitamin and mineral that might negate their way through their digestive systems are being supported by the likes of Cadbury, Coca Cola and MacDonald's.  What I really want to know is what will happen with all the BMW's once the games are over? Perhaps, Top Gear can investigate that one. Ok, let's move on from Cadbury's to Valrhona, two names not usually found in the same sentence.


So far this year I've been lucky enough (thank you Santa) to have tasted and enjoyed two bars from Valrhona, including Gran Couva and El Pedregal both delicious but with totally different flavours and characteristics even though they have the same cocoa content, 64%.  The third and final bar is from Madagascar, an estate grown dark chocolate.  Madagascar, an island situated in the Indian Ocean, produces fine quality cocoa beans but only in very small amounts, maybe less than 0.5 per cent of world production.  The Ampamakia Plantation, lies in the heart of the Sambirano river valley, a fertile and lush area where Trinitario and Criollo cocoa beans have been cultivated for more than 100 years.


Ampamakia 64%
The Chocolate:  In case anybody is wondering, I did get rid of the minty fresh taste before attacking this bar. The aroma is full of fruity acidity with a hint of smokiness in the background. It is also a lot lighter in colour in comparison to the El Pedregal. Unfortunately I ate all the Gran Couva! 




The actual fruitiness takes a moment or to come through as the chocolate melts. There is a real 'zest' and delightful 'tang' to this chocolate especially in comparison to the El Pedregal. 


A really well presented bar that scores a 9 from the Essex judge! Out of the three bars I tasted this is possibly my favourite.  Frustratingly, I now have to wait until Christmas for my next tasting of Valrhona ;(. This bar (75g) is priced at £4.75 and can be purchased from The Chocolate Trading Company. 


Enjoy!