Recently, at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, I was being instructed by a man, bordering on zealot, as to how to try his chocolate. He had what is known as Single Origin chocolate bars, bars made with cacao beans from a specific region of the world. In this case he was talking emphatically of specific plantations. “No, try this one next,” he said, gesturing to the end of the row. “But first rub it and smell, then put it in your mouth, inhale and notice the strong scent of blueberries.” Okay, okay… But, oh wow! A strong taste of blueberries and chocolate indeed. The next bar, from Ecuador, was all about green bananas. The Venezuelan was dark and earthy. Why such a startling difference in taste?
The French word terroir (tair-wah, literally soil), often used in discussing wine, explains a lot of the variation. The idea of terroir is that a specific place, the soil, water, flora and fauna and other factors, makes itself known in the foods that are grown there.
A chardonnay grape grown in France will be different than one grown in Napa. Cows eating grass in England will produce a different milk than cows in Vermont. Which brings us back to chocolate. Oh, doesn’t everything!
Come to a chocolate tasting at our shop on Melrose and taste the difference in fine single origin chocolate or just pick up a few choice bars and have your own private tasting. It might be the most delicious research ever.