An Extraordinary Experience
We were met by Soma’s guide Samantha. As she lead us through the tasting of each morsel, she explained its place of origin and the close relationship the chocolatier had with their farm sources, confirming for me that specialty chocolate sourcing has parallels to direct-sourced fine tea.
Curiously, some of the chocolate samples were made in the form of tasting bars. These rectangular strips had a thumb depression at one end. Samantha suggested we rub this impression with our thumbs to warm up the chocolate, then sniff it and then crack the bar in half next to our ear. A nice crack is an indication that the chocolate has an even distribution of cocoa fats.
A few examples of our tasting:
Milk Old School
A roughly ground Chuoa cacao in a log shaped roll. This chocolate had plenty of texture but still smooth on the palate with a little satisfying hit of dairy.
♦Paired with Puttabong 1st flush Darjeeling from Camellia Sinensis Tea House. Perhaps the chocolate was a bit overpowering for the tea, but each sip was refreshing and as Darjeeling tends to do, it set the world to rights.
Tien Giang Vietnam
(70% cacao) from small holder growers in the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam.
♦Paired with Long Jing green tea from Tao Tea Leaf. I was surprised at how well these two stars intermingled, especially considering that one of them was green tea! I expected competition for my palate’s attention, but Tien Giang’s cherry and hazelnut flavours lived harmoniously with the familiar chestnut and buttery texture of Long Jing.
Bergamot Orange Truffle
This oblong shaped truffle was made with Mr. Freddie Salazar’s Ecuadorian chocolate. It was followed by a tasting sample of the same farm’s 70% cacao.
♦Both were paired with Tao Tea Leaf’s Tie Guan Yin (Anxi old style). This Oolong has a slight roast, but that familiar TGY fragrance was still forefront. The Bergamot truffle had presence, and it was suggested that we could just enjoy this one on its own, but the pairing was pleasant. I will just interject here, that our minds were skewed to the chocolate. The tea was secondary, so anytime the pairing performed well it was a double fantasy!
Pièce de Résistance
♦Da Hong Pao was this chocolate’s date for the evening and they certainly enjoyed each other’s company!
All tea’d out, there was just one little morsel left to try – a fruit bar that would normally be considered white chocolate, but because it contained no dairy, was not allowed that category. This thin bar was made of plums, warm spice and Okinawa black sugar. It was like a refined, silky version of Chinese preserved plum.
I’m lucky that I live in mid-town Toronto just a short streetcar ride away from the shop. I’m also the same distance from their new Brock St. Cacao Bean Lab. Oh yes! I’ll be visiting.