Cheese + Provisions is a cheese shop first and foremost, but we are pleased to offer a wide variety of gourmet food products that we think go amazingly well with cheese. Chocolate is high on our list, to the surprise of some.
We admit, we were new to artisan chocolate when we were selecting the opening inventory. We had a ton of fun selecting the jams and pasta sauces and mustards and crackers and all the other dry goods you can find in the store. But we were intimidated by chocolate, knowing that true chocolate lovers are as passionate about their chocolate as wine lovers are about their wine.
We didn’t feel qualified to curate the chocolate collection so we reached out to Choco Rush, a Denver-based company that is as serious about chocolate as we are cheese. They took the time to help us understand what bean-to-bar chocolate is (like I said, we were neophyites) and why single-estate sourcing matters.
They also introduced us to some of the most amazing chocolate we’ve ever had. Why, because most of their chocolates average about 70% cacao, because they want to encourage us to eat real chocolate. At 70% or higher, chocolate becomes dramatically healthier, and legitimately good for you. As they say, “If you’re used to milk chocolate and are afraid of dark chocolate because you assume it is bitter, prepare to be amazed. Good bean to bar chocolate will forever change your definition of dark chocolate.”
And we had a blast hosting a chocolate, cheese and bubbles class with them for Valentine’s Day. Last week they published their “Chocolate Tasting Guide.” We have our own guide for how to taste cheese – it really does matter how you do it.
Here are some excerpts from their guide:
Have a Clean Palate
If you are tasting lots of different chocolates, some sparkling water or plain bread is a good way to cleanse your palate. And not all wines pair with all chocolates, so don’t let that cloud your taste buds either.
Hear, Smell, and Let it Melt
If you’ve stored chocolate in the fridge, let that chocolate come to room temperature before tasting. Cold chocolate makes it harder to detect flavor nuances. Ideally, you shouldn’t store your chocolate in the fridge, but in a cool, dry place around 65F.
Get a decent piece of the bar and break it off. Did it have a nice crisp sound? Good dark chocolate has a clean snapping sound, while milk chocolate will be slightly softer due to the milk content. A lack of a good snap could indicate bad tempering or that the chocolate is too warm.
Give the chocolate a quick whiff to inhale its aroma. Does it smell fruity or sweet? Can you detect any vanilla, spice or smokiness? Smelling chocolate (or any food) before you put it in your mouth primes your taste buds. Incoming!