Blocks of chocolate made from raw cacao beans by Pierre Marcolini are then transformed into the exquisitely beautiful—and exquisitely delicious—bars below.
PETER ROT was first schooled in chocolate by his German mother. After an epiphanic taste of Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71%, his passion for chocolate became a full-fledged scholarly pursuit. Peter is a moderator of a discussion forum of international chocolate connoisseurs and a reviewer for the international chocolate community. He is pursuing a graduate degree in the cultural significance of food.
Updated July 2009
A Trip With Pierre Marcolini
Go “Bar Hopping” With The Master Belgian Chocolatier
Page 2: Java Bar & Grand Cru Cabosse Chocolate Bars
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Day 2: Java Chocolate Bar
I just tasted the Java 72% cacao bar, and it really is something else! In one word, I would call this chocolate “intriguing.” The aroma alone is an intrigue: interesting sweet twang of citrus, smoke, and cedar wood chips. The color is medium brown with bright orange tints. It started off curiously sweet with flavors of Lebkuchen, the German spice cake (but this flavor had a dominant mace and cardamom emphasis), strong lemon, and a splash of orange. Then, leather and smoke emerged and persisted throughout, lending an interesting tone to the bar. However, they were not dominating, but existed in the background and allowed more of the lemon to shine through. In this respect, the smoke tone is similar to Pralus’ Java bar; but Marcolini’s is much more delicate, more refined. The texture is incredible—smoother than the Venezuela, and not possessive of the thickness or pastiness. I suspect top-grade Criollo beans were used. The flavor is so delicate, yet the smokiness provides a darkness that will satisfy anyone seeking a dark yet delicate bar. The lemon fruitiness was in the foreground and was merely accented by the leather. The end of the length allowed the leather to become a bit more dominant but not overly so, and the finish is clean, with lingering tones of smoke and leather and a touch of lemon. There is no bitterness at all in this bar, but the finish is fairly short.
That is what makes this bar so intriguing. I ate some, then I was so intrigued, I ate more, and well...the rest is history (literally, as the bar is all gone). The comparison to Pralus’ Java bar strikes me: it is bold, assertive, single-sided³. Marcolini’s Java bar is both delicate and bold, and has more variations in overall flavor. The seemingly opposing flavors (Lebkuchen and lemon on one side, smoke on the other) dominate, but they raise the eyebrow and make one question, “Do these flavors work in combination? In chocolate, even? Let me eat more. Yes! They do work but in their own particular way.”
Needless to say, it’s a good bar. Subtle yet dark, smoky and sweetly spiced, this bar has night-and-day flavors that complement each other quite well.
Java Bar Summary: Subtly dark; smoky and sweetly spiced. A lemon-like freshness adds to the delicacy of this bar.
³Single-sided = no fruitiness, just dark leather, smoke and mushrooms—all masculine flavors, lacking the finesse and gentleness of the Marcolini bar.
Day 3: Grand Cru Cabosse Chocolate Bar
Cabosse day, a 70% cacao made from a bland of cacaos from Grand Cru plantations. The aroma is really interesting. I smell orange, buttermilk, and vanilla. The color is light brown with orange tints, which also adds to the appeal. Breaking the chocolate yields a resonating “snap,” another good sign. Now it enters the mouth. First, there’s a malt flavor, almost similar to a vanilla cookie. An orange tartness gradually emerges and is followed shortly by a buttermilk tone. These flavors persist throughout the length and eventually dwindle to a very slight coffee tone at the end. There is a lingering orange tang, minus the buttermilk, into the short finish.
The overall impression I get from this bar is that of a malted orange Creamsicle with a slight tanginess. It’s really quite good, and definitely an interesting journey. It’s a little thick in the mouth, more so than the Java bar and closer to the Venezuela in this regard. The texture is more along the lines of the Venezuela bar but not quite as thick. This chocolate is nice and refreshing in the mouth; it’s quite uplifting and reminds me of children scurrying up to the ice cream truck for a Creamsicle on a hot summer day. Sharp, slightly acidic, and no bitterness whatsoever.
Grand Cru Cabosse Bar Summary: Sharp, slightly acidic, and refreshing. Cool in the mouth with a cheerful flavor of orange, buttermilk, and malt.
Continue To Page 3: Pierre Marcolini Java Bar
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