Box Chocolate Review

Amano

Info Details
Country USA   
Style Classic      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Intensity
Complexity
Impact
An exposition on single-origins via the ganache in a cunning introduction to it for people afraid of the dark... (bar, that is).
Presentation   4.7 / 5
Slick Art Culinaire; corporate screensaver pattern on the box to buttom-down the bold, architecturally-shaped pieces within... a Frank Gehry primer on chocolate sculpture; polished-sheen & hand-placed finishes on the garnishes just 2 of the hi-end touches

Aromas   4.8 / 5
exceedingly clean & oxidized; fragranced primarily by spices & citrus under an overarching cocoa-plume
Textures/Melt   7.2 / 10
Shells: uneven envelope (on the pour / enrobe); good tooth yield
Centers: full-bodied commercial grade (textbook & mechanical but not overly processed); generally smooth ganache with slight granular (on the micron level... neither the silk of France nor the satin of Belgium or rough-edge Italian... just serviceable)
Flavor   40.9 / 50
deep base foot prints: earth, loam, leather + higher fruit traces on the chocolate, & M.O.R. for the inclusions; both stone & metallic after-taste (granite grinder & aluminum conche?)
Quality   24.1 / 30
The pity of the new boutique chocolate scene: barsmiths struggle to make it on their bars alone so circumstances impel them to branch out into confections where profit margins are much greater. The benefit of this situation: boxes like these built from finer beans & husbandry for hi-end couverture of some depth.

Employs the same origin-couverture for both the ganache & the shell, a substantial upgrade from many run-of-the-mill chocolatiers, though less unique than it sounds, especially for Palet d’Or pieces.

Where one might expect, especially in the rather unadorned / unflavored Palet d’Or, cream-ganache to dilute the force of cacáo, Amano accomplishes just the opposite & amplifies the inherent effects of a given cacáo type within a well-pitched structure.

Craft & skill all there; technically nice product but that's the cavil -- they're product... in formation... with aspirations of the 7th Level of Heaven. Which puts it light-years ahead of 90% of the pack. Amano gets upscale. It just needs to fine-tune the obsessive-compulsive passion bordering on crimes-that-lead-to-life-imprisonment-without-parole that the Top 10% of the world's criminally-delicious masterminds possess.

Incredible is finding those who have attention to craft & detail, & catching them hit their stride, losing their ever luvin’ minds to theo-insanity.
Selections
Couverture: in-house
Ocumare Palet d’Or -- inauspicious start on some rectal whiff (seriously, true ass butt-gas) relieved by creamed-raisins on the tongue (very much the direct descendent of Amano’s 70% Dark Ocumare bar) singing at alto register before chocolate’s backbone bends it to the floor toward solid baseline cocoa (nicely tannic to counter the fruit acids); exceptional clarity & persistence

Guayas Palet d’Or - another Palet d’Or flavored up with more pronounced fruiting than the actual couverture from which it derives; very identifiable blackberry & pomegranate inflections make this better than the original

Dos Rios Palet d’Or -- yet a 3rd Palet d’Or that... well, impossible to exceed the parent-bar for it too feels spritzed with bergamot like this... basically an aerosal spray off the elevator at Bergdorf’s Level 5F or the cosmetics in Barney’s basement (including high tea with twigs intact); oh, doll, absolutely ‘fab’

Key Lime Guayas - lime agressively clashes with a terrified Ecuadorian base; an ill-advised mess that uglies everything up

Yemeni Sidr Honey - dripping on Guayas couverture... in a far superior set-up than the Key Lime (above) as the chocolate counters the highly viscous honey & that only-from-Yemeni flavor (dark throat-catching amber with a finger of sweetness poking thru a medicinal back)... which grows in desert & semi-desert areas of Yemen (as well as the Atlas Mts., Morocco). Where Eve bit the apple, the first fruit Adam supposedly nibbled at was the Sidr tree (popularly known as Jujube). Speculation swirls around the distinct taste as coming from the long distance bees travel to reach Sidr Trees to feed on its potent nectar. Many die after 3 or 4 trips compared to the thousands flown by honey bees to other trees.

Cardamon–Pepper - Cardamom smack on top, chased by cream then equalized in bergamot before pepper sneaks thru the traps at the finish; tremendous sequential flow even though the elements never truly settle into one another & evacuates on an undeveloped tannin that pins the tongue back

Raspberry- very berry (clear & clean)... White enrobes a Dark Guayas ganache of minimal presence other than in support of reinforcing the fruit inclusion as it loses out to this aggressive commercial White of good body, decent cocoa butter start & strong sugar middle; one-dimensional

Cinnamon-Pecan - funky-junk cocoa-puffs / rice-crispies squares on crack; standard melt (texture does little for the whole affair), overly-sweet ganache but it does not suffer for the cinnamon; in fact, an off-taste (probably in the candied pecans &/or vanilla employed) actually benefits the combo as it turns/burns rather alcoholic into a Bourbon Pecan Pie

Reviewed March 2011
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