Maps are multi-faceted. They can evoke memories of journeys from the past, they can open up a whole new world of places you have yet to explore and can also serve as a guide to help you find your way while on your present path.
“M” week is finally here! This is one of the bars that I have been eagerly awaiting for MONTHS! When I first started using Instagram at the beginning of the year, I was mesmerized by gorgeous photos of Map Chocolate’s square bars. If I’m honest with myself, I might have designed the whole Eating the Chocolate Alphabet project simply as an excuse to try this chocolate brand for myself!
Since this chocolate wasn’t available locally, my only viable option was to visit Map’s website to make my selection. It was such a treat to scroll through more mouth-watering pictures and smile while reading each bar’s unusual and unique name. In the end, I selected one inclusion bar (Still Life with Pi: a renaissance of candied orange peel & vanilla seeds / Belize 65%) + one bag of hot chocolate mix. (Let me tell you, it’s been such a challenge not to indulge in a cup of cocoa, I’m so glad that the self-imposed moratorium is finally over…stay tuned on Instagram for that!)
It’s evident that much care and thought have been put into each small detail, including the packaging. Rather than revealing itself too quickly, this chocolate bar arrived packaged like a small gift to be unwrapped.
The simply folded plain brown tissue paper, adorned with a bit of gold ribbon, was kept closed with a small black sticker emblazoned with an “M” in gold calligraphy amongst a cloud of decorative curlicues.
I was especially touched by a personalized, handwritten note on the back of a small map square tucked into the ribbon at the back of the package.
Once that layer was removed, an old world style map peeked out from the sides of a simple, yet elegant outer sleeve providing ingredient information.
The clear sticker used to keep the sleeve closed exhorts you to “find open roads” and begin an exciting adventure! 🙂
Sliding the map-wrapped bar from the sleeve, I saw a familiar sight! An aerial view featuring the colonnade and piazza of St. Peter’s Basilica, an Italian Renaissance church in the Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome. This map transported me back to my 2009 trip to Italy and a treasured photo that a friend took from the top of the dome, overlooking the city below.
As I peeled away each layer of protective packaging, the heady chocolate aroma was both enticing and intoxicating. After months of waiting and worrying, would the square be broken into pieces or perfectly intact? Now came the moment of truth! I delicately unwrapped the final layer of coated white paper to reveal a pristine shiny square which brings back memories of the Moorish tiles I saw at the Alhambra in Spain during my first European trip as a teenager.
Maybe it’s me…but from within the 12-pointed star (which is said to depict completeness), I can almost see the outline of the Castel Sant’Angelo, which was also on the map of Rome.
In an interview, Mackenzie Rivers (Map Chocolate owner and chocolate maker) revealed that this Belgian-made mold is called “Scheherazade” – as in the storyteller of “One Thousand and One Nights.” This seems to go well with a quote that was included as part of the non-traditional tasting notes page: “…chocolate carries an amazing story of cultivation, travel, wild places, people, birds landing amongst its leaves, rain falling, farmers tending it, and mouths tasting it. every bite the story unfolds.”
The reverse (or inclusion) side is equally complex with the combination of slightly chewy vanilla seeds, crunchy candied orange peel and tiny perfectly shaped sugar crystals.
It seemed like such a shame to break the bar into pieces, but it had to be done! Not surprisingly, the same adjectives can be used for both the mold and the chocolate itself: overlapping, interlaced and intricate. Biting into the smooth & creamy chunks, there were long lasting layers of flavor as well as bright/tart fruit notes.
In the words of Mackenzie: “this bar is about coming full circle, by way of the meandering tangent.”
With my apologies, here are some of my thoughts on the reason for choosing “Pi” as part of the bar’s name (with help from an online article from wonderopolis.org):
- “Pi is an irrational number, which means that its value cannot be expressed exactly as a simple fraction.” Since taste is very subjective, it would be impossible to create a definitive, one-size-fits-all description for any chocolate bar. Therefore, just like there is no end to Pi’s decimal places, there is an infinite number of ways to encapsulate the experience of tasting chocolates.
- “Since circles can vary in size, yet they all retain the same shape, ancient mathematicians knew there had to be a special relationship amongst the elements of a circle. That special relationship turns out to be the mathematical constant known as pi.” I’d like to think that, regardless of each person’s history/backstory, chocolate can be the connection that unifies us all.
To find the chocolate bar that “speaks to you” and begin your own adventure, check out: http://www.mapchocolate.com/