Finest Chocolate Bars

A special thanks to the kind reader who occasionally sends me bars of chocolate to enjoy with my tea.  What better than a plate of chocolate, a pot of tea and Josef von Sternberg film set in an exotic location. I recommend The Shanghai Gesture. Acts of kindness are never wasted. This time my cup runneth over: three bars.

Knighthood in the offing?
Our reader says she bought them from the Chocolate Trading Co., who has almost two hundred different bars of chocolate we can work our way through. I was v. amused to read that our chocolate-giving reader believes I should receive some recognition for my support of British brands and manufacturing. If you're reading this ma'am, I shan't stand in the way of the will of the people if they want to see the old blade tapped on the shoulders.

So which of the hundreds of chocolate bars did our generous friend choose?
Soul food and Chartreuse liqueur
We have a single origin dark Madagascan chocolate from Bonnat, containing 75% cocoa made from the Criollo bean. Bonnat is the oldest French chocolate company and since 1884 the company motto has been: 'If it’s good for your palate, it cannot be bad for your soul.'  Did you know that Bonnat has the sole rights to make chocolate liqueurs with delicious Chartreuse? I would very much like to try one of those. In fact, I'm very much tempted to make a trip to the city of Voiron. Chartreuse is produced in Voiron and is also the place where Bonnat is based and has a shop and tea rooms.
The blue-packaged chocolate bar from Michel Cluizel'The Goldsmith of Chocolate' — is a single estate bar made from Forastero beans from the Vila Gracinda plantation on the Island of São Tomé.  The chocolate has a 67% cocoa content. Michael Cluizel is based in Damville in Normandy, France, and was established in 1948. Who says the Swiss make all the best chocolate? Do you know, I've been planning a sherry tour of Spain, but maybe I should also plan a chocolate tour of France. I don't know when I'm going to fit all these trips in. I still have the North Coast 500 pending. The Cluizel's have been making chocolate for three generations, proudly so, ensuring a 'guarantee of independence and the passing-on of values'.  Music to Tweedy's ears. A well-run family business is the best kind of business. Cluizel has a museum and 'chocolatrium' at their chocolate factory, which we can visit on our chocolate tour.
Trees ask no questions
The chocolate tucked away in the beige and orange packaging is an organic bar of 66% cocoa content from Original Beans, a Dutch company. Beni Wild Harvest is made from wild cacao beans, which are tiny and genetically unrelated to other beans, apparently. The beans are collected by Bolivian tribesmen in canoes during the wet season. Sounds like an utterly ripping yarn. Original beans promise that they will plant a tree for each bar sold. This is good. I really like trees. Trees ask no questions. (They say they blabber, but it's the whispering grass you need to worry about.) And trees make good neighbours, just like hedges.

I suppose I should say something of the taste of this chocolate. First of all, I will say that the bars all tasted very differently. That's something you notice when eating them all at the same time, ahem, for the purposes of comparison. Perhaps the differences would not have been so noticeable eating them separately.
One must do what must be done
The Bonnat chocolate had a  smell of raisins, nice crunch, smooth mouth feel with nice bitterness and a hint of acidity. The Cluizel had a pleasing melt on the tongue with a nutty almost floral taste — long on flavour. Original Beans was low on bitterness with a nice crunch and pleasant honeyed fruitiness. I'm sorry if this doesn't help you decide. Perhaps the Original Beans pipped it for me, but they were all jolly delicious. However, I feel it is my civic duty to continue trialling the offerings from the Chocolate Trading Co. until I settle on my signature bar. 

One must do what must be done.


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