Box Chocolate Review

Black Dinah

Info Details
Country USA   (Isle au Haut, ME)
Style New School      
The Chuao of boxed chocolate destinations: forget the causeway (there is none), the only way to get there is by boat.

Isle au Haut... a rather inaccessible island in the “long shadows of Black Dinah Mountain” (echoes of the voice of God in John Facenda’s ‘frozen tundra of Lambeau Field’), part of Arcadia Nat’l Park in the State of Maine. Home to wild blueberries, dew-speckled rapsberries, & chocolatier Kate Schaffer -- a woman with a lot of motor who bridges the gap in skills & quality that sinks too many chocolatiers from the mainland.

Sometimes in the most far-flung places, way off the beaten path – well clear of Paris, NY, Rio, & Hong Kong – in the middle of nowhere that could be somewhere to describe almost everywhere... world-class work happens.

Fire up the GPS. This remote C-spot should be mapped on everybody’s taste-buds.
Presentation   4.2 / 5
lackluster, even a slight drab crypt, mostly on acct of wash-faded transfers that pre-date techni-color; otherwise good attn to detail
Aromas   4.8 / 5
heady chocolate musk + some nut factors
Textures/Melt   6.3 / 10
Shells: medium-thick
Centers: substantially toothsome for the most part
Flavor   48.1 / 50
generally straight-up & unplumbed w/ strong superpositioning; bold yet nearly ideal equilibrium, pinpointing flavors on the head of every T-bud & really puts it on ‘em; all elements well if not always clearly expressed – nothing too mysterious / very little left to the imagination as w/, say, some extra-subtle French boxers (such as the phantom flavors in early Jacques Genin before he moved more forward)
Quality   28.6 / 30
Top line. Brooding... dense... minimal levity... partially attributable to El Rey’s Carenero line as well as the reserved deployment of sugar ‘n cream, the latter serving merely as a conduit for infusions. (See Bespoke for a contrast in employing similar components). With Textures to match -- the lone flagging technique in pursuit of perfect imperfection. Black Dinah takes the escalator to the penthouse where it belongs: a cross between the innovative Wen & the concentrated balances of Dufoux – yes, among some very tall & talented company.

Relies on locally wild-harvested ingredients as much as possible (picked under a harvest moon no doubt). Add-in a few experimental or extreme flavorings in this anything-goes-world of new era chocolate, but never slapdash... just tastefully done (excluding perhaps the Eastside Flamingo -- though even that measures up, such as it is).
Couverture: El Rey
Varietal - unusually multi-layered for a Palet d’Or; warm nut inflection yields to sparkling fruits then herbaceous vines typical for a Peruvian origin & finally a fleeing cocoa phenol; excellent & exciting
Flagship Caramel - Maine sea-salt bites into fruited Carenero of El Rey’s 73% Gran Saman before cutting & accentuating thick molten caramel – immovable really; elements maintain their separation, though in a wondrous equilibrium; special
Chèvre Nib - a chocolate-goat rumpus; white cheese invisibly tucked in a Dark Chocolate bed, the two lying in quiet repose, exchanging gentle cocoa thrusts & softly sweet tang from a light goat’s kick; judicious, dimorphic proportions of good persistence; exceptional
Earl Grey - tea comes straight at it, right out from an oozing center of thick-walled Milk Choc casing (the shell virtually if not in reality serving as natural preservative) that catches then caramelizes it, leaving El Eey’s 41% Caoba w/ the last bite
Raspberry - a chocolate bhang-bangover; wild berries from Brooklin in the house; no, homes, not that Spike Lee Joint where the only things growin’ wild are misty white NYC subway weed & broners... but another out-of-the-way place - Brooklin, Maine – equally hardcore though, this shit’s a free-jam (shakin’ the bush / wild is free like that / right off the tree like that / Afghan be kush) into bittersweet savor & goes kinda crazy Snickers™ peanuts at the deep back
Eastside Flamingo - strangest unit... Dark Choc covering for ginger spice in some cum-cream texture at the center, drunk in rum; somehow all works... same as a one-night stand: great,thanks, but never again
Rhubarb - shockingly tender of flavor; just the slightest tart crimson stalk puckers Milk Choc w/ clove backgrounding; some beautifully orchestrated magnificence
Blueberry-Pepper - artful combination; warm pepper turns those blues black, then Dark Choc hues them deeper still into paneled ebony; phenomenal mystique

Reviewed Spring 2010

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