For at least year, I have been talking to Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate located in Columbia, Mo., through Twitter. I found him in the beginning days of wanting to start this blog. That was back in May of 2009. I didn't have much to talk about when it came to this blog because I didn't really begin to upload my previous reviews of 2009 until Jan of 2010. "Hey, I am a blogger with no content yet, but I want to know more about your product."
Once I began to get the ball rolling, I became reacquainted with Alan and Patric Chocolate. As he tells it, he kept running across my site as I began uploading the reviews and and he kept asking, "Who is this person? I think I have talked to them before."
I had a similar experience in finding his brand. Twitter searches of chocolate, Google searches of bean-to-bar producers, his name repeatedly came up. So I started to follow him. I watched all the tweets come in for new releases.
Very envious and jealous that I wasn't one of the recipients of these special release bars, I began writing about everything I have had or was getting my hands on. Eventually our paths crossed again and this time I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of a sample collection from him. Most generous of him.
How lucky am I to have this life?
Alan sent me his whole line from drinking chocolate, cocoa nibs, to a collection of his bars. All of his bars using Madagascar beans, which currently happen to be my favorite region. Plus his newer release of Rio Caribe, from Venezuela.
I am trying to come up with the best way to use those nibs. I hope I can find a worthy enough recipe. He does have a recipe for cookies using his nibs. I will make sure I blog that adventure when the time comes.
Look for two newer bars to hit the market soon. All Alan will say about it, is that one is a refined version of a classic in his profile, and the other one will be an entirely new origin. I can't wait. They better end up on my door step.
[Image via Scrumptious Street]
I just spoke with Alan today for about an hour and a half about various matters including his love for Madagascar beans, beer, which brewers are using his cocoa beans, and how he can venture into the beer world with his cocoa nibs, and what he thinks of 20°N & 20°S.
When I asked Alan, about how he came to use mostly Madagascar beans, he described it like finding music worth buying. Talking about how you hear pop music and you nod your head to it, but the music you really want to buy blows you away. It was sort of like this when he found the flavor profiles of Madagascar beans.
He and I both agree, that while there are very different regions with different experiences and flavor profiles, Madagascar beans tend to be the most interesting. At least for the time being. You never know what is going to come around the corner and wow you. Be it a new hybrid, or an old classic.
His beans from Madagascar in the Sambirano Valley, come from a family owned farm. It was split off from a larger plantation. The beans originally came from Java, but little is known about the exact origins of how chocolate came to be in Madagascar. Some have noted that it was the French who brought the beans to Madagascar.
Alan is reluctant to talk about specific bean varietals. With 12 known genetic families and many, many hybrids around, he takes the safe route in not specifically identifying a varietal. Without genetic testing, there is no way to know for sure. The original beans arriving in Madagascar were Criollo probably from Mexico or Venezuela. But later imports added more of a genetic variation. This is general information collected from the back of the Patric Chocolate bar.
Alan has a good blog where he talks more extensively about the myth of the Criollo bean. I have this highlighted on my side bar about chocolate information.
Something Alan and I have in common aside from many tattoos, is beer. As he begins to sell his nibs to brewers, he is beginning to make the same comparisons as I have with craft beer and craft chocolate making. It's all about the care and effort put into your product. Drinking craft beer and understanding how it is made, has made me understand my palate better. It's helped me to taste and understand chocolate better. All the same nuances of smelling and tasting apply. We are one in this community of making craft artisanal products. It takes time to branch out and get your name out there. And it takes advocates such as myself to push brands we like and care about into the forefront of our taste experiences.
This begins my journey with Patric Chocolate. Well technically my journey began by tasting amazingly delicious truffles made with his Madagascar cocoa. But this begins my journey with his bean-to-bar creations.
Patric Chocolate Madagascar 67% (Sambirano Valley)
Type: Bittersweet 67%
Bean Varietal: Hybrid
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter (3.75% by weight of coco butter added. Cocoa butter is made with the same Madagascar beans.)
Sample Size: 50g or 1.75oz
Lot #: 101835
Appearance: Simple molding with a monogrammed P. Shiny and smooth, a little lighter in color than the usual deep rich browns.
Snap: Excellent crisp snap sound. Clean break lines.
Aroma: Big almonds upon first opening, hints of mint and tobacco like a minty snuff tin. Mild tar and rubber notes, roasted cocoa.
Taste: Sweet at first, then tart citrus, acidic, bold flavors, big vodka taste and cedar notes, roasted cocoa, and black cherries.
Texture: Smooth and creamy. Fast melt.
There is a lot going on here. The flavors are so big and robust. Big, sharp citrus, wood, and vodka. I still to this day do not know what causes that characteristic, but it is all over this bar. It finishes with a little bitterness, black cherries, and classic roasted cocoa flavors.
I love this bar for it's big characteristics. One of the few bars with a score this high was the Rogue Madagascar Sambirano 70%. That bar had the same big vodka esters but was a lot softer on the edges. I loved it for the soft edges. But I love this Patric bar for the bolder flavors. It's so bright and kicks you in the face with flavor. This bar has all the classic hallmarks of the region the beans are grown in.
Two American small-batch producers of chocolate have rocked my world by way of bean-to-bar. This completely reminds me of American craft beer. All the classic beer making countries have their traditions and history, but it's the Americans coming in with these small craft creations and are completely stealing the show. Stealing the spotlight, the thunder, and all other analogies you can think of.
Final Score: 95.2