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Criollo

by Nanea
Info Details
Country USA   
Type Semi-Dark   (85%)
Strain Criollo   
Source Hawai'i USA   (Kaua'i)
Flavor Earthen   (& Airy)
Style Old School      ('no skool' really)
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Acidity
Bitterness
Roast
Intensity
Complexity
Structure
Length
Impact
Bar: $20


Chocolate Diamond Bling: $200,000 (genuine Criollo rather than the zirconite type)


Seaside Villa with Cacáo Grove: $2,000,000 (c'mon now, it's Hawai'i)

Flavor: worthless
Appearance   2.1 / 5


Color: most brilliant bar... ever; wild strawberry blonde / golden orange; seriously, FD&C dye #xx kind of stuff
Surface: frosted; bloom onset...?
Temper: ... no, just untempered
Snap: so soft it snarfs itself up; caked edge
Aroma   4.8 / 10
monster brewery: starter culture, yeast, hops & alcohol seeping all over the place... well beyond the levels found in Mānoa Hamakua next door, or all the way to its Pacific Island neighbor -- Fiji -- for that matter
airs out palm fronds & stone works
strong on all fronts
Mouthfeel   7 / 15
Texture: dry dust
Melt: a disjunct -- fast dissolve to grit & grain then, miraculously, rolls up a round fat
Flavor   21.2 / 50
follows the Texture's lead... nitrous bubbles swallowing desiccated cake flour -> gasps for air around rough scrubbing suds -> breadfruit the first registered flavor, about a quarter of the way in the progression -> beer splashback -> straightens up some on bubble yum -> kukul aka candlenut -> rear bitter -> plant roots in potted soil -> granite
Quality   5.4 / 20
The chocoscenti view Criollo as sacred & speak about it in a reverential tone. What then if it falls short of all it's cracked up to be? The opposite of idolatry would be to renounce it wholesale.

This Criollo, genuine by any measure, parallels King Lunalilo of Hawai'i. In the local dialect his name translates 'high' (luna) 'lost' (lilo) or "so high up as to be lost".

The shortest-reigning monarch in Hawaiian history, Lunalilo died of alcoholism & tuberculosis just 13 months after ascending to the throne.

This bar likewise gives out pretty fast & before long has one literally / physically gasping for air. What was approached with such lofty anticipation quickly becomes lost & gone.

A reminder that genetics play but one factor -- albeit crucial & perhaps fundamental -- in the many moving parts that go into a chocolate bar. As ever, a great barsmith can do very little with a bad seed; an inexperienced barsmith can... well, desecrate a truly holy one.

The particular cacáo here was drafted from the Ferris Family orchard in Hawai'i which organizes its trees into 2 planting blocks: those that a) bear an admixture of various hybrids, & b) purer types of Criollo. The latter sampled, tested, & analyzed by the USDA/ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami, FL returned a proximate match to Criollo 13 in the ICGD (Int'l Cocoa Germplasm Database). Which makes it a rarity even among the rare that is this varietal.

And, in this case, evermore rare at that: the bizarrest bar on Earth.

So pitiful to be luvable. Practically unmilled.

Texture, nowhere near 30 let alone 20 micron in particle size, almost causes choking. It's so seriously desiccated until cocoa butter comes to the rescue to incorporate the particulates, thus allowing saliva glands to activate. In the process, the olfactors are stunted if not altogether shut down -- momentarily at least.

Taste-buds finally recover around the mid-point only to discover that never has a Santha grinder been experienced so directly by the tongue. As if delicate Criollo's lipids absorbed little pieces of stone rollers that worked their way into the flavor by the end.

If that weren't enough, the ferment, insufficient even by Criollo standards & perhaps in deference to its lineage, might as well have been in a microbrewery tank somewhere in Brooklyn or Boston. Failure to age the nuts after drying contributes to the woes. It all translates into underdeveloped flavor pre-cursors.

Through it all, however, latent potential can be gleaned. It just needs to be coaxed out & polished; starting with a cleaner grind & deeper conch to avoid any health hazard & consequent lawsuits.

With such Criollo on Hawai'i, these seeds merit preparation (post-harvest / processing) commensurate to their pedigree.

Reviewed February 22, 2013

  

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