The joys of being surprised by the hospitality in the chocolate industry. What started out as a joke, ended up with the actual product in my hands ready for review.
I casually saw the folks at Dick Taylor tweeting about this new bar they just packed up and that it had black mission figs in it. Well, you know I love chocolate, but I also love figs. So, I jokingly said you need to send some of that to me ASAP. To my surprise they said they would! I said my eternal words to live by, "I am just kidding if you're just kidding. But I am serious if you're serious."
They were serious and it was delivered to me a short while later. I actually forgot I gave them my address and to see it arrive was a really nice surprise. It also came at a good time after that hectic Pralus Chuao review that shall now remain in infamy. Nice gestures that end up smoothing out your day.
It's important for me to point this out because I am eternally grateful to anyone who views this blog or my opinions worthy enough to send their products to review or just to try.
The name Dick Taylor comes from a blend of both the owners and chocolate makers names. Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor. Two craft furniture and boat makers who took some of the same basic principles of creating and crafting woodwork into creating and crafting chocolate. That explains the gorgeous packaging.
As most of you already know, several months ago, we completely re-tooled our whole entire package from bar mold to wrapper. We slipped this in under the radar and have never really explained the concept, so here goes.
Our idea is to have a continuing series of sketches highlighting different crafts. We chose our first illustration to highlight a craft that is near and dear to us, the craft of a Shipwright. In our minds the pinnacle of wood-craft is boat building. The complex, and constantly changing curves of a boat hull represent the greatest challenge to the woodworker. It is amazing, that even to this day, most wooden boats are built almost entirely by hand. Even the most complicated of machines can't shape the changing bevel on the edge of a plank or the face of a sawn frame. Patience and care must be taken to fit all joints water tight. It is not a fast process. We feel like much of the patience required to build a boat carries over to the chocolate making process. We don't rush the process, often repeating steps if they are not done right the first time, scrapping an entire batch if we are not proud of the product.
We also selected the ship yard illustration because of the rich and complex history of ship-building in Humboldt Bay. It ties us to this place we call home. In San Francisco, the lumber schooner the C.A. Thayer, was built here on Humboldt Bay, along with countless other great ships used to carry lumber up and down the west coast. It is one of the last remaining west coast lumber schooners.
Our idea is to roll our new illustrations every so often to continue to highlight this idea of craftsmanship that we hold so dear.
Their website and style reminds me of the Mast Brothers in Brooklyn. I hope they don't mind the comparison as they are artisan chocolate makers and hipsters that I happen like very much.
70% Ecuador Chocolate with Dried Black Figs
Type: Filled, Bittersweet, 70%
Bean Varietal: Nacional or Hybrid
Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar, black fig. All organic.
Sample Size: 2oz
Appearance: Nice signature custom molding with a monogram. Very detailed and fine. Shiny glossy finish, dried figs on the backside with a little bit of superficial chocolate crumbles or remnants from molding.
Snap: Firm, crisp snap, nice and audible. Crumbly break lines.
Aroma: Bold aroma, Smelled a bit like beer right out of the package, pen ink, slightly medicinal, tar, smoky, sweet, earthy, very mild fig.
Taste: Bold flavors of tar and pen ink, berries, cocoa, sweet, tangy, sweet dried figs and wine-like flavors from the figs, bitter, wood, biscuit, toast, very mild and slight hints of cinnamon from retro-olfaction.
Texture: A little hard at first, but overall good smooth texture, quick melt time, creamy once it opens up, and nice chewy dried figs.
This is very strong chocolate from start to finish. From it's design, packaging, flavors, and aroma.
It's design is awesome. I love the signature molding and how intricate it is. But I do think that's what gave way to all the left over bits on the backside of the bar. That's really insignificant though. The finish was glossy and a nice deep dark color. The figs were gorgeous to look at on the back. You could stare at either side and be happy. I do think the molding might be why the snap was a little crumbly too. But the snap was firm and crisp.
The aroma was very big. It smelled like beer right out of the package which is good for a beer lover like myself, but the chocolate's original aromas were so big that the dried figs barely influenced it at all. Just a little bit if you really head this bar to your nose and inhaled for a little while.
The flavors were also very robust and big. Like the aroma, there was huge pen and tar aromas. It opens up sweet and then gets tangy and bitter and has big wood flavor. Once the chocolate has melted away a bit, you get lovely biscuit or buttered toast flavors and very subtle hints of cinnamon. The figs adds a nice dried wood flavor of their own and some wine-like flavors. But I have to say, the figs very much get lost on this robust chocolate unless you have a good piece that you get to chew on long after the chocolate has melted. Perhaps some stickier dried Turkish figs might be a bit more appropriate for the strength of this chocolate.
The chocolate is so full on flavor and aroma that the figs add very little to interact of marry well. Unless you prefer a smaller fig taste, I think they need to be a bit bolder or the chocolate needs to be tamed a tad bit more. It does leave some nice lingering fig tastes on the finish, but that's after the chocolate has melted away.
The chocolate to me is like beer. It's funky, it's bold, and it's very complicated. It has a lot of descriptors that some might not find exactly appealing, but after awhile you come to appreciate them. It teaches you a lot about roasting and fermentation and sometimes regional hallmarks.
Final Score: 92