Notes From the Underground Chocolate Salon

Last week a big group of us chocolate lovers met up at Raaka’s factory in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to taste some bars and gab about craft chocolate.

I’ve always been jealous of Paris in the 1920s, when artistic and literary luminaries gathered at Gertrude Stein’s house to talk and hang out: Picasso, Cézanne, Joyce, Eliot, Cocteau. Only one thing would have made it better: chocolate. That’s why I started what I’m calling the Underground Chocolate Salon, for like-minded (or not so like-minded) people to get together and talk chocolate, as well as enjoy one another’s company.

If you want a spot at the next one, in New York on July 25 from 6:30 to 8 PM, email me immediately at to let me know and I’ll send you the details and location.

In the meantime here are some notes from last week’s salon.

I included two bars made with beans from Akesson’s farm in Madagascar so we could taste the differences between two makers’ styles.

Dandelion Madagascar 70%

Acidic, bright, a fruity punch. One taster who knew her sugars REALLY well said it distinctively tasted like the “sulfur, funky note” of real cane sugar, “the first sugar right off the kettle.”

Malmo Madagascar, 70%

This bar arrived from Sweden only hours before the Salon (and isn’t available in the U.S., as far as I know). Talk about cutting it close! Smoky, bright, herbal, no particular sugar taste. Able to taste the roast, a dark roast, possibly in the smokiness.

Whole roasted bean from Oko Caribe in the Dominican Republic, from Fruition Chocolate (not available for sale)

Strong, nutty, smooth.

Fruition Wild Bolivia, 74%

Lighter in color than Madagascar bars. Smoothens out as you finish the bite. Toasty, roasty. Fruity, tart aftertaste, like a jelly flavor. Everyone’s favorite of the evening.

French Broad Norandino Peru, 70%

Fruity smell. Less bright, not very acidic, slightly chalky texture. “Winey taste.”

Caribeans Costa Rica Single-Estate from José La Fe Honecreek, 72%

This is another one that arrived shortly before the Salon, also not available in the U.S. Cinnamon, all kinds of spice, more acidic than the others. Chalky. Some tasters didn’t like how it melted in the mouth.

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