Club Meeting of May 23, 2010

This month’s meeting was at the home of Nancy Shelby in San Francisco. Luke was on our minds and in our hearts. Leonard, our fearless leader was with family in Iowa (we will miss you Barry).

But when the cats away, the mice will play. Or in our case, the conspirators act. Leonard’s absence left a leadership vacuum that Jesse and his co-conspirator Michael swiftly filled. The club anointed Jesse, age 15, as temporary President for the night. But it ignited an ambition that even Jesse was not previously aware of. There is now a fierce tussle for the leadership post.

There is even talk of membership being limited to only those under the age of 16, which of course, would toss everyone except Jesse out of the club. We will keep you posted.

The six varieties we tasted were:

  • Plantations, Equador, 75%
  • LilleBelle, Dominican Republic, 74%
  • Bittersweet, Madacascar, 70%
  • Tcho, Ghana, 70%
  • Amano, Venezuela, 70%
  • Amano, Madagascar, 70%

Ken (dark and smokey), Michael (congenial) and David loved the Plantations bar, but others were troubled by it. The comments "it tasted like soap", "it had a strange strong aftertaste", and "it tasted of licorice and raw eggs" brought it down in the ratings.

The LilleBelle bar was more pleasing, and ended up scoring #2 of the night - our first bar ever with the comment that it tasted like jujubees. But most thought it was creamy, tasting of cassis fruit with hints of caramel and coffee.

The best of the night went to the Bittersweet bar, scoring one "10" and two "9's" with the comments that "this is the most unusual bar we have ever tasted", "would love to eat this again". The creamy smooth taste of chocolate covered cherries and vanilla is in the words of one present "Yum!"

Our first Tcho experience was a satisfying one, but left us a little short on words. Perhaps it was coming after the Bittersweet bar. It was a compelling interaction of taste and texture.

The two Amano bars were on different ends of the scale. Most thought the Madagascar bar was waxy and bland, but loved the Venezuela, which tasted of tobacco, tangy, truffle cheese, plantains or/and new tires depending on who you asked, but everyone agreed it tasted of an alcoholic beverage, like fig wine or gin.

Club Meeting of April 25, 2010

Tonight's meeting was quite unusual. We've never had a gathering where the overall ratings for the chocolates were so low.

The selection of six bars, all purchased by Carrie on a trip to New York, in the order of their scores from high to low was:

1. Vosges. Organic Dominica Noir. 74%. Cacao from Dominican Republic. Chicago. Score 7.

2. Jacques Torres. 70%. Cacao from Africa and South America. Bean to bar artisan chocolatier. NY, Score 3.5.

3. Marie Belle. 71%. NY. Score 3.

4. Marie Belle. 60-70%. NY. Score 2.5.

5. Mast. Cacao from Madagascar. 72%. Bean to bar artisan chocolatier. Brooklyn. Score .41.

Tonight was not a blind tasting and one always questions how it might have turned out had it been otherwise.

The Torres showed the great difference once again among our palates. Carrie scored it a zero likening it to fungus or tree bark, while Michael loved it's rich and lingering quality and gave it an 8. And life goes on. Jesse is the youngest in the group at 15 years so we assume he has the most taste buds left of any of us. While he was in line with everyone on the Mast Brothers, scoring them both at 1, he gave the Jacques Torres an 8, the only one in the group to go that high.

The Mast Brothers website is quite interesting and their dedication to chocolate is admirable. They are a small artisanal chocolatier in Brooklyn looking for quality. I'm sure they have their followers and we are happy for that. It is our desire that all chocolatiers find their public and flourish.

Club Meeting of January 25, 2010

As founder, creator and grand poobah of the Berkeley Chocolate Club I admit that I have fallen down on the job by not submitting accountings of our meetings for the last several months. My hope is to do better in 2010. - Leonard

The first gathering of the year had a selection of six bars brought back from Annecy, France by club member Gloria Polanski. And the chocolate was from one single chocolatier of Annecy, Meyer Chocolate.

Unfortunately we know nothing of this chocolatier and the internet offers up nothing as well. From the looks of it this is a smallish company that makes chocolate primarily for a local clientele and does no marketing beyond. We could be wrong but that is the impression. One reason is the packaging. It just smacks of regional, homegrown, local.

The six varieties we tasted were:

  • Araguani, 72%
  • Tanzania, 75%
  • Santo Domingo, 70%
  • Guanaja, 70%
  • A Blend, 70%
  • A Blend, 80%

We began with the highest percentage and went down from there. The ratings were all over the map. The 80% blend got a zero from Leonard and an 8.5 from Michael who thought it was “terrific, subtle, real chocolate.” Despite that high rating from Michael this bar came in last with an overall score of 4.93.

The highest rated for the evening was the Araguani with an 8.0. The lowest score it got was a couple of 7s. Pretty good there. At the high end it got three 9s, very good indeed. In between were 7.5s and an 8. The third place Santo Domingo got 4 8s which is solid enough, 2 7s, and a 6.5. Leonard thought is was an excellent movie chocolate and gave it a 5.5. Remember, in our scientific scoring a 5 is movie chocolate. Not great, not terrible, fine for the movies.

We have often wanted to do a rating on wrappings but usually forget to take up this important issue. Some stand out and some plainly do not. Meyer is in the latter. It is similar to the wrapping of chocolate from A La Mere de la Famille in Paris. Only recently have they gone to a more classy wrapper with a recognizable label. Previously their bars were plastic wrapped much like Meyer with a barely recognizable logo.

Member Clifton Baron informed the club that regretfully he could not attend this month's meeting.

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