Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (70%)
Strain Ceylan   (???)
Source Mexico   (Xoconochco)
Flavor Spices & Herbs   
Style Retro-American      
Way off the block; less a chocolate & more a functional compound spotlighting El Vanillo show more »
Appearance   4.8 / 5
Color: pitch brown w/ maroon cast
Surface: only mite signs of its under-processed state on the underside: hoarfrost vanilla bits perforating the skin like so many green magnetic-iron filings in a primordial both
Temper: polished book-binding leather
Snap: crumbles off; corrosive edge
Aroma   8.7 / 10
puff the magic dragon in the guise of VOG (Vanilla Oak Giant) eating a li’l Keebler cookie elf... but no problemo w/ bi-polar disorder here... its oils (heliotropin / piperonal as much as ethyl vanillin [3-ethoxy-4-hydroxybenzaldehyde]) completely unsheathed, sweating & steaming the air all around the vents of the Pyramid of the Niches at El Tajín, the ancient city of the great vanilla orchid people – the Totonac from Veracruz, Mexico into a cherry blossom & stone pit -> raw cocoa squeezes-in to breathe thru; all-in-all, a huge, if overpowering, mood elevator
Mouthfeel   13.9 / 15
Texture: knurling on the buds
Melt: gravel track sprinkled w/ vanilla bits... swells up well w/ some length & surprising body
Flavor   38 / 50
vanilla onrush -> sugar crystals in the wake -> chocolate fighting for room, obtains a tiny purchase by assimilating some sugar -> chocolate-inflected vanilla fog -> massive cookie dough attack dipped in puddle water
Quality   13.2 / 20
Vanilla spume. A bar commissioned by a deli (made-to-order to scrub the ‘buds after a salami sandwich & a pint of beer) which Askinosie should’ve vetoed for violating a fundamental Law of Chocodynamics: balance.

Vanilla so overpowering it corrodes the lines & pitch of cacáo’s intense but fragile constitution. Most bars that incorporate vanilla do so at a miniscule rate; maybe one-half of 1%. Even if this ups that to only 2% (a four-fold increase) it feels closer to 5, possibly 10%, that’s just how domineering & way out in front. Completely throws any symmetry out of joint. Pointless to even discuss any metrics (ferment, roasting, conche, etc), or how this bar dialed down 5 degrees on the cacáo-count from Askinoise’s Soconusco which forms the base (been getting alot of mileage out of that Soconusco - the Straight Bar, the SocoNibble, pouring it into DM molds - an eco-green version of ‘waste not - ask not’; by now, must be on the 2nd or 3rd cargo shipment), a regional cacáo that inheres its own spice tones. Nearly impossible to get much of handle on any of that though with so much obfuscating vanilla.

That aside, El Rustico presents an terrific exposition on... vanilla... specifically French-vanilla (i.e., prepared for strong aroma), at a strength that tastes light-years ahead of the industrial-solvent extracts or grocery aisle powders. Rich & rodolent, it spreads across the palate as if hand-pollinated all the way, perfuming thru the senses in a reminder that vanilla is a great & potent floral orchid of its own.

It’s also a study on Texture, coarse & rugged in keeping with Askinosie’s overarching Rustic approach throughout his entire portfolio. This unconched bar suits him well & feels natural; indeed, its sanding effect improves the experience, such as it is, resembling Felchlin's super-blend Centenario Crudo, as well as the general M.O. of TAZA.

ING: cocoa mass, cane sugar, cacáo butter (2% added), whole vanilla; CBS ~1:1:1

Reviewed 6/24/09


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