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

Consequently I didn’t want to start with my favorites when blogging about Amsterdam chocolate places1. Now I must at least reveal one of them, to rave about a chocolate tasting I enjoyed yesterday. The tasting was held in Amsterdam’s best place to try out, learn about, and buy chocolate bars: Chocolatl. It deserves another post on its own, just so much for now: It’s a pretty shop for highest quality chocolate bars in the lovely Jordaan neighborhood. The shop was started by Erik and Leslie, meanwhile they got two equally enthusiastic co-workers, Debby and Charlotte. I always felt very welcome and never left the shop without having tasted a dozen chocolates2 and with new stories on some of the world’s most fascinating chocolate makers.
Now I finally made it to one of their chocolate tastings, which they call Chocolabs. This time the tasting was about “Exploring your dark side”, which –surprise!- focused on darker chocolates mostly around a cacao percentage of 80%. In line with my previous experiences in the shop the tasting was very entertaining and –very fortunately- not snobby at all.
The spectrum of smells, textures, and most of all flavors was extremely broad. From the nearly volatile-free, intense and bitter Rózsavölgyi “Sur del Lago 84%” to the entirely un-conched Corallo “Chocolate sable 80%”3, from a citric-fruit rich SOMA “Black Science 85%” or incredibly fruity Askinosie 77% to earthy Duffy’s 83%.
I realized again that I will maybe never become a world-famous chocolate critic, simply because for me “interesting” usually has a “good” connotation. That can be quite a problem. See… I actually found all the selected dark chocolates very interesting. Boring isn’t it? I nearly wish I could really trash one of the samples we tasted4, but they were clearly all excellent, well-made chocolates with –yeah, again- very interesting flavor profiles. If I would have to choose a favorite? I would pick the Marou 80% and the Askinosie 77%. Oh and then the SOMA 85%, and…

  1. You’re a footnote reader? I’m going to spoil the story now…. My favorite places are clearly “Metropolitan” for making great pralines, the “Chocolate makers” for making bean-to-bar chocolates, and “Chocolatl” as best possible place to try and buy chocolate bars. []
  2. YES! That’s certainly one of the best things… you can prove all of their chocolates. Not only this, but the Chocolatl-team is always eager to let you compare some similar (or contrasting) chocolates. []
  3. That one includes sugar crystals, making it more a matter of taste whether or not you like that texture. []
  4. Dear Chocolatl-people, what do you think about smuggling a real bad chocolate into your next tasting? Just for the contrast and people like me… []

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