Just off the docks and onto the shelves, a new chocolate maker arrives from Kent, England. Artisan du Chocolat is one of the new generation of adventurous bean-to-bar chocolate makers keeping everything fresh in the chocolate world. It was their much talked about tobacco chocolate and the selection of other playful-serious infused chocolate bars that originally led me to them. When I discovered they actually made their own chocolate, getting the entire line into our shops in Portland and New York became a whole lot more pressing. We missed the holidays, but they’re here at last.
This is my first experience with the bar that really caught my eye.
Only the last lingering traces of flavor remain now, a burnt caramel with a touch of spicy ginger. That was preceded by raisins and treacle, and indeed, as the maker, Gerard, suggested, perhaps a touch of “biscuit.” The first flavors that greeted me upon opening, regarding, snapping, sniffing, and sucking the chocolate bar were something: what, maybe cardamom and/or turmeric with a bit of allspice. It is remarkably sweet. The bar is imperfectly crafted, with a mouthfeel that is not entirely decisive, embracing neither the contemporary daring lightness or the old world brooding silkiness. But I have not tasted Vietnamese chocolate before, and I’m dang happy to have experienced this new creation. Artisan du Chocolat’s Vietnamese, 72% dark limited edition chocolate bar is made with Trinitario seedlings from neighboring Malaysia and grown in Ba Ria Vung Tau Province, East of the Mekong Delta. Complex and distinctive, I couldn’t ask for more, sitting here in the sun, still puffing and warm from shoveling snow off the sidewalk of the Hudson street shop on a Thursday morning.