Friday, May 18, 2012

Xocolatl de David

Today my local amazing chocolate shop (Fog City News) had a guest chocolatier on site: David Briggs, from Xoxolatl de David.  I'd tried several of his bars before at the now-defunct weekly tasting events they used to hold, and had been very impressed.  I was really excited to go today to get a chance to try even more of his products!  Unfortunately, he only had two that I hadn't tried before to sample, even though he makes many more varieties.

His chocolate bars all use one of three different chocolates as the base: 68% Chocolate from Bolivia, 72% Chocolate from Ecuador, or 74% Chocolate from Dominican Republic.  Almost all include fleur de sel for a really nice salty finish.  The bars are very unique, featuring savory ingredients like cheeses, olive oil, pork products, etc (he was one of the first making a bacon bar).  My dining companion who does not like sweets came along today, which is very rare for a chocolate event, but I promised him savory chocolate, and he was indeed impressed enough with this to purchase several bars.  I've never seen him buy anything besides a 99% or 100% before!  Some of the other really interesting sounding savory varieties, that I haven't tried, include Chicharrón, Hazelnut & Black Truffle, "Salt & Pepper", Creme Fraiche, River's Edge Chevre, Rhubarb ... the list goes on and on!

I've only had the chocolate bars, but David also makes caramels, nougats, chocolate covered nuts, and a variety of other confections.  And, as I just discovered ... foietella: foie gras chocolate spread.  Yes, really.  How do you think this sounds to a foie gras lover like me?  Amazing ... imagine it spread on a croissant?  Or warm brioche?  I must order this before July 1!

Anyway, I highly recommend these bars.  Unique, complex, and really quite tasty!  In particular, I love how the tasting experience changes as you savor these, the finish on many of them is just incredible.

My tasting notes, from past chocolate tastings, purchases, and today's event.  As always, subsequent tastings are in brackets.
  • Almond & Pimentón: 68% dark chocolate from Boliva.  “Marcona almonds fried in extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with smoked spanish paprika, and fleur de sel”.  Tasting notes:  This bar is amazing.  Smooth, glossy dark chocolate with a subtle bitterness, with whole flavorful almonds, a nice spice from the paprika, and an amazing salty finish.  The tasting experience is incredibly complex, starting with the bitterness and almond flavor, moving into some spice, and finishing with a great smoky, salty flavor. [ This bar is really good to have a small bite of, but it gets old fast.  After having it a number of days in a row, I’m pretty sick of it. ] [ After not having it for a while, it grew on me again.  Nice smokey flavor. ] [ Re-visited a few months later.  I love the smokiness to this bar! And the almonds! ]  He also makes a chocolate covered nut snack version of these: chocolate covered Marcona almonds fried in extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with smoked spanish paprika, and fleur de sel.  I'd LOVE to try those!!!
  • Brown Butter Bar:  72% dark chocolate from Ecuador.  “Brown butter (local sweet cream butter cooked, first to remove the moisture content, and second to caramelize the remaining milk solids) ... and a little fleur de sel”.  Tasting notes: Incredibly smooth, amazing buttery flavor.  This reminded me of a perfect dessert, turned into a chocolate bar!  It basically had all of the flavors of a lovely brown butter cake, drizzled with caramel and chocolate.  A complex tasting experience, and really quite delicious! [ Really amazing caramelized flavor in this bar.  Sweetest bar of his that I've tasted, totally my thing! ]
  • Miso: This one isn't released yet, but we got a taste.  I'm not sure of the details of it - he mentioned a white miso from a local producer, and it included a number of other ingredients as well.  Tasting notes: This was incredible.  Salt and chocolate are a classic combination, and in this bar, the salt was replaced by the miso.  It worked really incredibly well.  There was so much flavor going on in this bar.  I just got a tiny taste, so I didn't get to really experience it fully, but I'll certainly buy this one when it comes out!
  • Olive Oil: 68% dark chocolate from Boliva, extra virgin olive oil, fleur de sel.  Tasting notes: This was really interesting to try, particularly compared to the other bars made with the same base chocolate.  The olive oil made it creamier, softer, and reminded me more of a milk chocolate.  I couldn't exactly taste olive oil, but there was clearly something different with this bar. [ This is incredibly creamy.  The mouthfeel is just amazing.  The salt on the finish is great. ]
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano: 72% dark chocolate from Ecuador, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, fleur de sel. Tasting notes: So strange.  That … was really chocolate with cheese in it.  Can’t say I liked this, but it was certainly interesting.  You don’t taste the cheese at first, but it is very strong on the finish.  Cheese is in large flakes throughout the bar, resulting in a somewhat gritty texture. [ The first experience of this bar is of chocolate, and then the parmesan comes through in the finish.  It is really crazy ... definitely, cheese and chocolate! ]
  • Piment d'Espelette: 74% organic chocolate from the Dominican Republic, piment d'espelette, fleur de sel.  Tasting notes: Hard and glossy dark chocolate, decent chocolate flavor, not much spicing.  I appreciated the hit of salt.
  • Salted Caramel: 72% chocolate from Ecuador, filled with salted caramel.  Tasting notes: caramel very thick, but beautiful flavor. Loved the salt in it.  Chocolate unremarkable.
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