When you embrace serendipity, you never know what is waiting for you around the corner!
Honestly, I really wasn’t looking for an “F” bar that afternoon! However, lately, I’ve come to realize that when a bar presents itself, it is fate’s way of telling me to seize the opportunity (besides, it is ALWAYS best to have a backup bar just in case)!
While reading the book Raising the Bar: The Future of Chocolate as homework for an online course from Ecole Chocolat, a “chapter” in Part One focused on cacao diseases like witches’ broom that decimated farms in Brazil between 1985 and 1997. This information didn’t really “hit home” until researching the history behind Fazenda Camboa (situated in the tropical rainforest state of Bahia, Brazil), where the beans for this bar were grown.
Visiting various online sources, including the Fazenda Camboa website, I learned that the Carvalho family purchased their first cacao farm from British trading companies in 1942 and continued to purchase other farms in the subsequent decades. Current owners, brothers Arthur and Eduardo Carvalho, the great-grandsons of the founding father of the cacao empire took over the farm in 1982. Then, in 1989-1990, their cacao farms in Bahia were devastated by the fungal pathogen witches’ broom which is spread by airborne spores. Between 1996 and 1999, production at Fazenda Camboa dropped by 96%. Despite facing bankruptcy and other key family stakeholders choosing to abandon growing cacao, the two Carvalho brothers were resilient and worked tirelessly with an agronomist for two decades to find ways to hybridize and graft healthy branches to infected ones and slowly bring back yields to what they are today. Now they are Bahia’s largest producer of organic cocoa beans (certified organic since 2007) and in 2013, they exported cocoa beans for the first time in 25 years!
To learn more details about the farm, please visit this link available through Cacao Bahia, the farm’s marketing/distribution arm, which is managed by Jack Bell, the son-in-law of Arthur Carvalho.
Now, onto tasting this 75% dark chocolate Dick Taylor bar.
Dick Taylor’s packaging design & intricate mold are so immediately recognizable and photogenic! Paraphrasing a recent comment from fellow chocolate blogger, The Chocolate Website, even if they removed the text/logo, chocolate lovers around the world would still be able to easily identify the maker!
With brutal triple digit temperatures for weeks on end, even a gelato shop will have problems keeping their cool. I suspect that this is what happened to this particular bar, though the “bloom” has a beauty of its own, don’t you think? It reminds me of my parents’ polished mahogany piano!
Based on the bar’s condition, it’s no surprise that there was a soft/dull snap and that the tasting morsel was a little crumbly when chewed. At the breaking point, there were no visible air bubbles.
During my first tasting, the chocolate was creamy, smooth and delicate in flavor with nutty and fruity notes plus some astringency on the finish. For my second tasting, the aroma reminded me of roasted coffee while “chomping” the bar released juicy grape-like flavors and a yogurt-y tang.
Congratulations to the Dick Taylor team for winning silver at both the Academy of Chocolate and International Chocolate Awards this year!
For information on Dick Taylor’s extensive line of chocolate bars and more products, please visit their website: https://dicktaylorchocolate.com/
While I’m definitely not a “chocolate whisperer,” when chocolate “speaks” I try to pay attention 😉