by Friis Holm
Info Details
Country Denmark   (via France [Bonnat])
Type Semi-Dark   (70%)
Strain Hybrid   (mainly Amelonado crossed by indigenous varietals)
Source Nicaragua   
Flavor Naked   
Style Classic      
The Freetown Christiania district, near Friis Holm in Copenhagen, stands as a landmark to the conversion of a former military complex into a civilian community & how humanity, if it ever gets so far, might repurpose all war weapons for peaceful means. Neither perfect nor without struggles that pock almost every social setting, the spirit of Christiania encompasses multiple movements from the hippies & squatters to collective anarchism.

Meditation, yoga, weed & theater reign supreme in this mostly car-free zone to creativity & recreation whose residents occupy a permanent state of merry rebellion. They arguably take things less seriously than the "outside world", laughing all the way to their poorhouses, responding to the planet getting systematically snowed on TV, online, & in tabloid papers with full snark delight.

As well as disdain.

The movement realizes that not only are metaphorical ideological frames distorted nowadays, the facts are worse than ever imagined & spun & stretched on all sides far beyond the old salt water taffy that passes for info & insight on the Internet. Earthlings inhabit parallel universes with their own lost tribes in Doppler shift to elsewhere in the Emptiness Empire of zeroes & ones, the new all-the-news-that's-fit-to-print instead of crinkly black & white & read all over.

Christiania symbolizes Ragnarok Rising (think Wagner's Ring), their favorite-bad-feelings expressed via the gravitas of dire proclamations, many which have come true in one fashion or another, issued forth from a post-Orwellian wet dream!

Technically a haven for soft drugs only -- though coke, heroin, meth, can be found here as elsewhere -- often sold on the main thoroughfare aptly named Pusher Street.

Drug fueled or not, their acts say it more pithily, with a better acerbic snarl, than any syringe needle still left in wounds that leave with the unsoothing truth at any 3 AM in the morning. Most live it everyday.

Chocolate, especially high cacáo-content Dark Chocolate, straddles that line between a superfood & nutriceutical. It stimulates the nerves & quickens the neurons along the synapses to cope with life's vicissitudes.

This Rugoso (Spanish for 'course', 'rugged' in reference to the skin of the cacáo pods from which this bar derives) fits right into the rough confines of Christiania. Its interior likewise matches the mellow sweetness of many denizens there.
Appearance   4.1 / 5
Color: pewter-brown
Surface: virtually pristine
Temper: soft flash
Snap: a club
Aroma   7.8 / 10
saddle wax inside a straw-filled barn with a horse stall &, not feta, but fetid goat cheese (grass fed)
Mouthfeel   13.4 / 15
Texture: easy as the Flavor
Melt: tenderness reified (nil astringency)
Flavor   45.2 / 50
golden hay -> light tonka & vanilla beans -> cream stream -> plantain -> ground cinnamon -> all commingle together for an everlasting stretch... until a malted-cocoa almond splashdown
Quality   17.6 / 20
Mikkel Friis-Holms mentions a "brutal bitter beginning" that quickly fades to "beautiful plum". At the risk of busting him for lying, almost none of that happens.

Call him a 'good' liar though, on the right side of the light.

Instead, just a steady download of supple & gently-dappled chocolate, the hallmarks of delicate tannins from a kind genotype.

The manufacturer Bonnat, on behalf of Friis-Holm, then butters them up good for extra emollience.

This a genuine award-worthy contender as opposed to that impostor. It requires a slow, contemplative session rather than some speed-chocolate consumption. Those with the luxury of leisure will 'get it'.

Rugoso joins other light-heavyweights... Caoni's Esmeraldas 77%, Domori's Guasare, Idilio's Finca Torres, Nanea's 85% & Zotter's Peru 70-20... all of whom etherealize lightness despite relatively high cacáo-percentages.

This nicely distinguishes itself from the rest of the Xoco Gourmet pack of hybrids born from hundreds of mother trees dressed in varietal trade-names, a company designed to fool-proof trees for "dumb gorwers" & dummy-proof cocoa so even amateur barsmiths can produce good chocolate. Witness what Xoco's Indio Rojo did for upstart Duffy "Red Star" Sheardown a few years back, with which this apparently shares quite a bit of DNA. The Indio a Catongo x Upper Amazon cross whereas the flavor behind Rugoso suggests it favors the Catongo a little more.

Some of the Xoco cultivars fall short so far (Chuno & Barba for example) while others excel (Nicaliso & this) for an overall uneven mix.

As a group, they form the byproduct of an effort in juxtaposition to the PCC (Projecto Cacao Central America). PCC involves the CATIE genebank in Costa Rica, USDA, & NGOs. Officially they sponsor aid programs for the environment & increasing livelihoods. Their main objective: high yielding cacáo that's hopefully disease-resistant to the local scourge of Monilia (a wind & water-borne spore that causes crop damage to the tune ~ 25% in some regions to a total loss in others). Their tool kit includes a legion of acronyms -- EET from Ecuador's INIAP breeding program; CATIE's R1, R4, & R6 hybrids; UF types 221 & 296 named after the United Fruit Company (a conglomerate implicated in the continent's socio-economic development -- arrested or advanced depending on one's politcal vantage point -- during the 20th century).

By contrast, Xoco, with private funding, accounting firm acumen, & assistance from the NGO Techno-Serve, grafted onto the work of Tito Jimenez whose breeding experiments comprised the bulk of the company's cacáo selections.

Crudely speaking, they're based largely on the Amelonado strain, some Iquitos & a fraction of Criollo.

Within its portfolio some limited variations can be detected but the aromas & flavors & even pulp are generally consistent. The greatest differences lie in their phenotype (or appearance). So the Johe shows warty yellow pods in contrast to Nicaliso's smooth red surface which leads another breeder to remark that they're all a Ford Taurus painted different colors. Generally true but, again, some distinctions exist.

Rugoso, for instance, might be considered a Ford too... a Ford Lincoln. And certainly a cut above what PCC assembles.

Best to consider them a Central American class similar to the role ICS (Imperial College Selections) plays in Trinidad.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

Reviewed July 26, 2013


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