Info Details
Country USA   
Type Dark   (70%; Batch 100016)
Strain Matina   (Amazon hybrid)
Source Costa Rica   (Upala)
Flavor Fruits & Flowers   
Style Neo-Modern      (with a nod to Classic)
In the new era chocolate every large to mid-sized city in the USA will soon have their own barsmith right next door to the baker & the butcher in the boutique food court.

Might that extend to every township, village & hamlet in the republic too?

Here's a bean-to-bar chocolate maker in an out-of-the way place -- Shokan, NY -- located in the soft underbelly of the Catskill Mountains... a hop, skip 'n a jump south of Woodstock. Remote & isolated amongst itself: a hamlet situated within a town called Olive, inside Catskill State Park. Just a short quick strip along Route 28 at the junction of Reservoir Road which drivers pass in a blink. A spot so tiny even some residents have no clue where to find the post office (waking 'n baking + a happy hour starting well before 5PM could possibly have an effect on that).

But a few more bars like this will put Shokan high on the map. From there wafts the scent of cocoa all over the surrounding hills & dales, emanating out of a workshop called Fruition.

Ahhhh, the smell of progress.

Maybe even enough to convince the town officials to change the sign at the city limits to Entering Shokalate -- home to fresh mountain-ground chocolate.

That'll hardly be necessary however because this is an automatic draw.
Appearance   4.6 / 5
Color: medium-brown with a dash of maroon
Surface: extremely clean save for some minor bubbles on back
Temper: vinyl polish
Snap: quite vocal
Aroma   7.2 / 10
mixed bag: reeking Rica raisins + kerosene & creosote -> pili nut kernels (especially their turpentine odor)
Mouthfeel   11.9 / 15
Texture: vulcanized rubber
Melt: slow stacato
Flavor   44.2 / 50
full flush of grapes (juice, young Beaujolais, dried raisins), the latter leads to further browning (tamarind & figs) -> bar sits conflicted whether to lean toward cocoa or coffee... chooses molasses instead -> peters out as butter masks a lot of mass without so much as flattening it... -> sure enough, those browned fruits re-emerge & maintain stamina in the after-length, sustained thru moderate astringency
Quality   17.8 / 20
Nubes in the American Choc Scene all seem to try their entry-level best with this Upala kernel brokered by John Nanci, aka The Chocolate Alchemist, who procures them from Hugo Hermelink's property in CR.

It's a safe play, nothing too challenging or demanding; & it affords some latitude for error on the roasting curve.

The downside: this seed type specifically & the origin generally displays nothing too dynamic either.

A starter bean to get the hands dirty &, in this case, fulfill Fruition's purpose as a couverture for its higher mission: boxed chocolate truffles (coming soon). That allows for Bryan Graham to maximize his culinary skills (& profit margins) honed at the Bear Café in nearby Bearsville (sorry Red Onion fans, still the best public dining in the area) where he sharpened his dessert knives as the executive pastry chef.

Though this bar exudes neither the raspberry peak of Potomac's take on the same seed nor the caramelized nuts of Dandelion's, it squeezes the two into a mean average of sorts & presents the most fruitful of Upalas to date.

Well-crafted in the medium range of the processing parameters. A developing technique with the butter cut, & perhaps slightly too much of it, obscures the fruit accents later in the progression (but it also keeps the sterner compounds in check).

All in all, an auspicious beginning.

ING: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

Reviewed December 13, 2011


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