Origin Chocolate Event – Amsterdam 2016

For now I will just ignore to further write about me recent abscense from my blogger-life…
Instead I’d rather briefly share some impressions from the Amsterdam Origin Chocolate Event that took place yesterday!

Amsterdam Origin Chocolate EventTasting some fabulous chocolates from Shattell in Peru at the Amsterdam Origin Chocolate Event 2016.

Chocoa 2015

Last week the Chocoa festival, trade fair, and conference took place in the center of Amsterdam. Chocoa is a annual event and the ‘festival’ part resembles the Origin chocolate event although with more attention towards families, kids etc.1. This time I did not attend the festival, but I joined the trade fair instead.

Chocoa trade fair Amsterdam 2015 - cocoa bean testing and sampling.Cocoa bean sampling at the Chocoa trade fair 2015 in Amsterdam. One of the most important tests for the quality of cocoa beans it the so called ‘cutting test’. Typically, a few hundred beans are cut in halves for this test. Visual inspection then reveals the percentage of beans with mold as well as poorly fermented beans (well-fermented beans often show violet colors while a grayish appearance is a sign for non-ideal fermentation).

Footnotes
  1. The Origin chocolate event is really mostly centered around premium bean-to-bar products. []

Origin Chocolate Event

Although cocoa has always been a luxurious good and chocolate in its current (western) form is a highly esteemed delicacy, it feels like high-end chocolate is currently being re-invented. More and more bean-to-bar chocolate makers start to produce better and better chocolates, often by systematically questioning, testing, and improving the individual steps of chocolate making1.

Origin Chocolate Event 2014 in Amsterdam - Diego Badaró from AMMADiego Badaró from AMMA at the Origin Chocolate Event 2014 in Amsterdam

Footnotes
  1. I introduced the different steps of chocolate making in another blog post. []

Amsterdam’s Chocolatemakers

One of the best signs that Amsterdam is becoming a more and more interesting chocolate place is that it even has its own small-scale high-quality bean-to-bar chocolate maker: the Chocolatemakers.

Chocolate bars from the Chocolatemakers in Amsterdam Chocolate bars from Chocolatemakers in Amsterdam

Tree-to-bar basics

Recently I finally visited the small factory of the Chocolatemakers in Amsterdam, where delicious chocolate bars are handmade from bean to bar. Funny enough I had seen the facilities in the US (Mast Brothers in Brooklyn, NYC and Taza near Boston), but never the one closest to where I live. Naturally, I wanted to post something about my impressions at the Chocolatemakers as well, but suddenly realized that I never spend a single minute on explaining what ‘bean-to-bar’ actually means… do you know how chocolate is made?

Where does the magic happen in the making of chocolate? Where does the magic happen in the making of chocolate?

Defending chocolate: Askinosie

This might sound like a random pick. I didn’t do many chocolate reviews so far, so why elaborate on chocolates made by Askinosie? Partly, it’s random indeed1, but Askinosie is also a great chocolate maker that is still far less known than many of the ‘classic’ bean-to-bar chocolate makers2.

One of Askinosie's chocolate bars that's definitely worth a try: the dark goat milk! One of Askinosie’s chocolate bars that’s definitely worth a try: the dark goat milk!

Footnotes
  1. I happen to sit in front of four opened Askinosie chocolates enjoying my evening… []
  2. Such as Domori, Pacari, Prallus, … []

Sweet spot: Metropolitan

When I started writing about chocolate places in Amsterdam I already had my two favorite spots. Until now, two things kept me from featuring them in full detail. I didn’t want to start with the greatest Amsterdam highlights. And I wanted to make sure that I spend enough time with all the other places Amsterdam has to offer (some of which I also liked a lot!). Still there’s always personal favorites. And if it comes to pralines/bonbons/chocolates1, my favorite is: Metropolitan.

 Sweet spot in Amsterdam: Metropolitan
Sweet spot in Amsterdam: Metropolitan

Footnotes
  1. I often like English as a language, but here I hate it. Why is “chocolates” both used for the bonbon (Dutch) / Praline (German) / praline belge (French) and the plural of chocolate bars? Too confusing for me. []

The sweet, the bitter.

Last Sunday I enjoyed another chocolate tasting at Chocolátl1.

Chocolate tasting bitter and sweet at Chocolatl, Amsterdam
Chocolate tasting “bitter/sweet” at Chocolátl in Amsterdam

Footnotes
  1. A wonderful chocolate shop in Amsterdam. []

Exploring your dark side

Sometimes I like making things dramatic, saving the best until last. In food as well. I save the asparagus heads until the end and finish my favorite side dish last, if you know what I mean.

Chocolabs - chocolate tasting at Chocolatl in Amsterdam
‘Exploring your dark side’ chocolate tasting at Chocolatl in Amsterdam

Kallari Ginger & Andean Salt

Today I tried the “71% Cacao with Ginger & Andean Salt” chocolate from Kallari, a Ecuadorian chocolate maker with a good story. Actually it is one of the very few chocolate makers that produces in the region where the beans grow1
Medium Dark Chocolate with Ginger & Andean Salt from Kallari
Very pleasant ginger taste that teams up very well with the chocolate. The ginger flavor is intense but not harsh or hot, and it stays around for quite a while. Good, interesting chocolate.
However, the chocolate flavor itself is too mild in my opinion (too much cocoa butter?). As it is, the chocolate in this bar is only the support that transports the ginger. A stronger chocolate and a little more salt would probably be better to balance the dominant ginger taste.

Footnotes
  1. Other examples I can now think of are Grenada or Madécasse. Both also produce great high quality chocolates. Producing the actual chocolate in the same region where the cocoa growth typically results in a higher fraction of the sales remaining in these regions. []