Amano Ocumare – Best Chocolate (bar) in the US!
We interrupt these tales of Paris and truffles to bring you late-breaking news – the discovery of Amano chocolate bars.
I was at the local chocolate shop (which happens to be a news store) when I spotted the bar. I’m always willing to give something new a try so I picked it up. I plucked it alongside the two Amedei bars on the counter. The store manager asked me if I had tried it yet. “Nope.” “Hmmm, it will be very interesting for you to compare these 3 bars in a tasting.”
What? How is that possible? The Amedei Porcelana and Chuao bars are the two best chocolate bars known to man – they are without peer – even my favorite fine chocolates in the world are made from Amedei. How could this American upstart be considered in the same league? Somehow, I managed to finish all of my shopping without ripping into the chocolate.
It appears as if The Art of Tasting Chocolate got the initial scoop but there’s not much of a review there (but you can find one here.) I’m not very experienced with wine nor chocolate tasting notes, both definitely an art; but I scratched down my initial reactions as I ate the bar:
“Very rich, almost espresso like upfront, an extremely satisfying texture that thickens as you chew it, red berry at the end, lots of chocolate overtones throughout, balanced acidity with absolutely no bitterness.”
That’s the information that’s supposed to guide your mouse to order this $6 bar from Amano’s web site. I still rank Amedei Porcelana #1, but this Amano Ocumare is my new #2, pushing the Amedei Chuao back to #3. I have to run back on Monday to buy their other bar – the Madagascar Single Origin bar.
What makes these bars so special?
First, like Amedei, and unlike most chocolate bars (and truffles) you buy, Amano makes the chocolate themselves – from bean to bar. They purchase the beans directly from the farm and use their own artisanal techniques to create a chocolate, and taste, they want.
Second, the bars are made in small batches. Like all artisanal products, there are rarely enough raw materials to make mass quantities of an item. When you purchase mass-produced food items, you’re buying a compromise between quality and quantity.
Third, Art Pollard (the founder), thinks the altitude of Salt Lake City plays a great role in the final flavor of his chocolate. I emailed him for a further explanation of this point and he replied with:
“The altitude plays a couple of important roles. Higher altitudes give a different flavor to the roast compared to that of lower altitudes and in my opinion create better flavor development. The high altitude allows the cocoa beans to be roasted for both a shorter period of time as well as at a lower temperature than they would need at lower altitudes. Since roasting is one of the important steps for flavor development, this can have a significant impact in the final flavor.”
“Similarly, during the conching of the chocolate, the conching may be accomplished at lower temperatures and it proceeds quicker than it would at lower altitudes given the same temperature and conditions. One of the primary roles of conching is to allow various volatiles to escape enhancing the flavor of the finished chocolate. With the lower the vapor pressures at higher altitudes, this happens more rapidly and at lower temperatures.”
“Chocolate is very sensitive to the conditions in which it is made. A factory may be moved only a few miles and the final flavor of the chocolate for a given recipe will be a little bit different. I believe that the high altitude where our chocolate is made plays a key role in the flavor development of our chocolate.”
You can learn more at Amano’s web site in the FAQs section.
PS > With this post, I’ve created a Chocolate / Candy section.