Seeds (2014 + 2015 Harvest)
Bars (70%; 70%+Nibs; 70%+Sal de Cáhuil)

by Óbolo
Info Details
Country Chile   
Type Dark   
Strain Amazon   
Source Peru   
Flavor Earthen   (x Twang)
Style Rustic      
Making chocolate from scratch in this day & age rises to the level of the Q'eshwachaka (Inca Rope bridges). Tedious, time-consuming, anachronistic, quaint.

For example, even though a modern bridge spans the Apurimac River nearby, locals keep the ancient tradition & skills alive by fashioning a new one every year (see it here).

Chile's Mark Gerrits, the force behind Óbolo, crosses the border into Peru to source the cocoa utilized in these bars & then grinds them back home into chocolate, making him the first craft barsmith in that country. He may currently be alone in this endeavor when it comes to Chilean chocolate but with flavor like this he shouldn't be lonely because people will be weaving a path to his door just as surely as they venture the bridge of Q’eswachaka.
Appearance   4 / 5
Color: Seeds: brown just on this side of black
Bars: brown tinkled pink
Surface: Seeds 2014 Harvest: smaller than average; semi plump
Seeds 2015 Harvest: ditto with more irregulars
Bars: standard issue
Temper: Seeds: n/a
Bars: clouded
Snap: Seeds: n/a
Bars: electronic
Aroma   7.9 / 10
Seeds 2014 Harvest
light acetic swipe + deciduous wood

Seeds 2015 Harvest
same but pungent

Bar (70%; 70%+Nibs; 70% con Sal de Cáhuil)
wood, dry soil, stones / cinder blocks & microbiota... all brew up some ginger beer
salted bar conveys oceanic submarine currents
Mouthfeel   12.1 / 15
Texture: Seeds: yielding / forgiving
Melt: Bars: endothermic
Flavor   44.8 / 50
Seeds 2014 Harvest
beautiful banana -> very cooling minerals lead to trace vegetal spray topped off by super-subtle mint -> woody backdoor exit

Seeds 2015 Harvest
banana-cocoa backed in pitomba -> vegetable chips -> super savory including a vinaigrette dressing -> approaches tartar sauce -> lime twist

Lot #61

sweet cream seam to mild cocoa -> rising white fruit (cocoplum / pitomba) countered by chicory - licorice (nice juxtapose) -> pink camu-camu / black carob (re: algarrobina)... quite rare -> beautiful balsam of Peru -> cocoas out

Unique. Both sweet & savor / dark & light in contrast & unison.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar

Lot #66

an inexplicable sweeter opening than the 70% (without Nibs, above), then conforms to expectations of an overall darker countenance while still retaining fine acidity... if anything, Nibs furnish truer contrast lacking the chicory - licorice tags... the differential explained by the differing vintages? (no; see below)

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, Nibs

70% con Sal de Cáhuil
Lot #60

salt plunges the profile into deeper subterranean folds, more core chocolate fathoms... holds off the tang for two-thirds of the length whence acids bubble up in light froths

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, sea salt
Quality   15.6 / 20
Mark Gerrits, the ever-conscientious steward of Óbolo, comes to chocolate from the non-profit world, specifically the Nature Conservancy. Direct-sourcing cacáo therefore forms an extension of his previous career. Drafting his cocoa out of Pangoa, Peru courtesy of a 300 member co-op whose ranks tend to an agroforestry model -- including coffee at higher altitudes with cocoa, bananas & plantain at the lower elevation -- all in keeping within the bounds of the watershed's limits, both geographically &, moreover, in terms of volume / scale of extraction / exploitation.

The light environmental footprint then gets reflected in a light roast, the 2 seeds differing in their expressed levels, the 2015 seeds more dynamic, largely on account of the differing vintages rather than the in-house processing. The bars to date only utilize the 2014 harvest. Ancillaries a bit amiss but flavor makes up for it.

Soon he'll ready 2015's fruits & no doubt produce evermore generous gastronomics to suit his company name: Óbolo meaning 'gift' (which inheres his core values of giving back), derived from the Greek word for 'coin'. Given cacao's history they both apply & such an apt name augurs well for their fortunes.

At ~$5 a bar, consider it a bargain if not quite alms.

Reviewed March 24, 2016


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