Indio Rojo

by Friis Holm
Info Details
Country Denmark   (via France [Bonnat])
Type Dark   (70%)
Strain Indio Rojo   
Source Nicaragua   (+ Honduras &/or Guatemala)
Flavor Earthen   (+ Twang)
Style New School      
REDUX REVIEW: In response to this review's initial publication on August 22, 2011, all the principles involved -- from Mikkel Friis-Holm (the purveyor) to Frank Homann (the sourcing agent) & Stéphane Bonnat (the barsmith) -- conducted due diligence ex post facto to take the guesswork out of this puzzling bar & get it right. Much to their chagrin, they discovered that indeed a mix-up had occurred in the worksheets. Below is a reprint of the original review, followed by an updated addendum at the very end.

Controversies surrounding the name of a football squad, the Washington Redskins, in the nation’s capital where “the leader of the free world” presides over a bankrupt government, or the lovable Cleveland Indians baseball team, revolve around cultural insensitivities. Are these mascots tributes to proud “tribes” or slanders against them?

The cacáo known as Indio Rojo might join that group were it not for a) its very Spanish title that passes thru the identity-politics filter in the Anglo world (strange considering that Spanish in the New World is the language of the oppressors – the conquistadores) & b) it originates in Central America, home to many Amerind descendents.

Indio Rojo tranlated into English -- "Indian Red" – would probably draw scrutiny as a thoughtcrime.

The correlation between cacáo & people seems apt to solve the puzzle for why this Indio Rojo from Friis-Holm tastes so different from the one by Duffy’s Red Star.

So by way of analogy, Amerinds represent Criollos (meaning ‘native’ in Spanish) while the Euros are Forasteros (Spanish for ‘foreign’). Mestizo then fits the description for a bit of this ‘n that & some of both -- or that catchall mob term ‘Trinitario’.

The question becomes ‘how much of one or the other’?

Dr. Dapeng Zhang’s genetic analysis of the cultivar in 2011 turned up varying proportions of Criollo. Some at 10%; others 40%; & so on. In other words, a mixed bloodline, which pretty much applies to humanity too.

This particular Indio Rojo seems so mixed up it confuses itself into an identity crisis since, again, it tastes nothing like that “Other” (to use a bogeyman term popularized by post-Structuralists) Indio Rojo from Duffy. That's OK; "not all for everything, but each thing for what it is", says Hippocrates.

Pure blood thoroughbreds are virtually a relic of the past or a marvel for the future (GMO). What counts now are the expressed perfumes emanating from a chocolate’s underlying character, however crossed by hybrids it may be.

Summed up, this bar's a young’n with loud tongue, full throat, & round tummy but low CQ*. Neither an idiot nor a “retard” but a special-needs chocolate requiring extra attention.

(* just as humans measure intelligence by IQ, a chocolate’s CQ refers to its baseline core cocoa flavor free of any nuances or under/overtones; or to lift a term off the List of Banned Words used by "gourmet" foodie writers -- its "chocolatiness")
Appearance   4.8 / 5
Color: auburn beauty
Surface: hyper-hygienic... nary a scratch / barely a pinhole
Temper: flashing twinkles
Snap: big (100g bar)
Aroma   8.6 / 10
intense soursop & pineapple in honey -> quiets some into a sparsely wooded pine lot before turning back toward juju fruit -> drops a deep chocolate groove on top of paper
Mouthfeel   14.3 / 15
Texture: height of the experience; super fleshy
Melt: rounds in measured pulse
Flavor   32.8 / 50
borrows the Aroma’s soursop which subsides & shifts but never silences -> that deep choc on the scent just tar which cocoa butter softens into molasses -> cloying treacle -> licorice -> pine cones & eucalyptus -> burnt pineapple flan; nice after-draw (black cherry soda & vintage Valrhona black raisin goop)
Quality   13.6 / 20
Potent for 70%. Alas, very 2-dimensional (high soursop & low molasses) & kinda stuck in the latter. Little middle ground & virtually no core chocolate flavor.

Is there some suspect cocoa butter &/or (brown) sugar making the rounds in Europe these days to suggest a heavily colored if not contaminated batch? This, Corazon del Ecuador, & Congo 82% from 3 discrete sources, 3 distinct barsmiths, 3 different percentages & all one dominant characteristic: heavy blackstrap (& sickly sweet at that).

Strange enough to call for stricter definition & tighter regulation concerning “single-origin” chocolate. As is, the cocoa beans could hail from one country & the other components (sugar, cocoa butter, &, when employed, vanilla / lecithin) another. Yet it all huddles together somehow under the rubric “single-origin”.

Questions here are further fueled by the sourcing. The cacáo-hunter Frank Homann of Xoco brokered this & supplied Indio Rojo also to Duffy’s Red Star. As noted in that chocolate review, the meaning of Rojo varies from country to country, or even in the same country. Chances are one comes from Honduras; the other Guatemala & yet terroir only partially explains the divergent qualities.

Whatever the exact nature (imprecise given cacáo’s muddled cultivation record), this bar -- a dramatic departure way beyond the mere 2% differential in cacáo-content from Duffy’s 72% version -- suffers because of it. If Duffy’s is genetically whole / borderline gifted, this seems of damaged DNA, playing with less than a full deck in the biological lottery (though it shows good bones... in the after-taste).

Judging from the Aroma, the ferment smells true. Texture comes right -- a specialty of the actual house that crafts it. Perhaps an uneven roast (quite unlikely given the barsmith who, arguably, rates among the finest chocolate roasters on the planet). None of that would hardly account for the drastic separation between two bars made with the “same” Indio Rojo cultivar.

ADDENDUM POSTED SEPTEMBER 8, 2011: Which either leads back to that butter batch, the terroir, & the genes. Or, a much more mundane explanation: simple logistics. Ripley's Believe It or Not™ always makes truth seem stranger than fiction when in fact it's usually just plain & simple. Much to the chagrin of everyone involved -- -- from Mikkel Friis-Holm (the purveyor) to Frank Homann (the sourcing agent) & Stéphane Bonnat (the barsmith) -- there was a mix up in the worksheets &, true enough, thanks to this review's initial publication, followed-on by their due diligence ex post facto to take all the guesswork out of this puzzling bar & get it right, the label should read '50% Indio Rojo + 50% Nicaraguan mix of 5 strains'.

And that clearly explains it.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cacáo butter

Reviewed August 22, 2011


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