Notes From the Underground Chocolate Salon


Last week at the Underground Chocolate Salon at the Meadow, our tasting of six bars from Castronovo Chocolate turned into a full-fledged party, with music, laughter, and at least one manager of the Meadow unbuttoning his shirt.

What’s an Underground Chocolate Salon? 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.

Speaking of like-minded people, yesterday Cacao Review and I discovered that we both started clubs with similar names. As you know, mine is called the Underground Chocolate Salon. Cacao Review is about to launch a collection of microbatch bars from its favorite makers called the Underground Chocolate Club. Cacao Review has kindly decided to switch its name after its first collection is out (they are all ready to be shipped) and is even including a little teaser about my upcoming book in that first collection. I’m very happy that we managed to work this out in a friendly way and are being supportive of each other’s goals and progression. Yay for craft chocolate!

Now back to the salon.

I profiled Castronovo on my site recently, and I wanted to celebrate that profile with a tasting. This was not a sales pitch but a collaboration and exchange of ideas.

Here are our notes, minus the debauchery:

 Sierra Nevada, Colombia, 72 Percent

Fruity, bright, apricot perhaps, long finish

Amazonas 72 Percent

Still fruity but much more chocolatey, not as bright

Patanemo, Venezuela, 70 Percent

Nutty, malty, chocolatey through and through

Tumaco, Colombia 85 Percent

One of the attendees is so into craft chocolate that she had independently ordered a bunch of Castronovo’s bars and shared this one with us. We found it earthy, maybe a little chalky, surprisingly not bitter for an 85 percent

Sierra Nevada, Colombia, Dark Milk 63 Percent

Caramel, slightly fruity but much more mild, addictive, gone immediately

Dominican Republic, 55 Percent

A true milk chocolate, super sweet

The tasting concluded with a phone call with Denise Castronovo, the owner and chocolate maker behind the brand. Picture us huddled around my phone as she answered our questions and chatted about chocolate. A nice treat!

Then we hung out with patrons of the Meadow for a few hours, gushing over chocolate bars and telling stories of our favorite foods from around the world.

Note: There is an affiliate link in this post, for my book!