Monday, May 2, 2011

Bonavita Chocolate Tasting Event in Minneapolis

Bonavita logo I like chocolate. Who doesn’t? Ok, aside from my 11yo, who doesn’t? When I was asked to go to Bonavita with Jen from Life With Levi to learn about chocolate, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

I showed up to the Chocolate for Bloggers event late because I went the wrong way on the freeway. The excitement in my life never ends. Thankfully they hadn’t started the class yet. I sat down right as they got the slideshow started!

The ladies at Bonavita started their company because they’re passionate about the environment. Growing and harvesting the cacao bean is actually helping save the rainforest. Their inspiration is small farmers. 95% of cacao beans are grown on 5 acre farms and most of these farmers have never even tasted a piece of chocolate. Isn’t that the craziest thing?

What Bonavita is all about is educating the consumer and farmers. I learned so much about chocolate, true chocolate, from going to this class.

Artisan chocolate are higher quality because our everyday chocolate is diluted with artificial ingredients. Who knew that there are actual chocolate societies in Italy, France and Great Britain? The Mayans actually discovered how to process it and for centuries it had only been in liquid form. Personally, I like liquid form. Currently Italians are winning more awards than the French who were leading the way for years.IMG_6229We saw slide shows of the farmers and the cacao tree. They need lots of shade to grow and live. The cacao fruit is about the size of a football. It in turns produces about 30-40 cacao beans. The farmers who harvest these beans make about $1 a day! How incredible is that? Such a small amount and they’ve never even tasted the finished product.

Our group learned the ABCs of chocolate tasting:

Smell (aroma)
Look (color, shine, etc) glossy not grayish
Listen (snap)
Texture
Taste
should take no more than 2-3x to chew. Should allow it to melt. Best in the morning. If waxy & sticky it has a high amount of vegetable fat & longer shelf life and shouldn’t be found in high quality chocolate

Let’s talk about the actual tasting experience. I should probably admit here that I’m more of a milk chocolate kind of girl. I’ve tried various dark chocolates before and ugh, it’s really never suited my palate. In between chocolates, we were told about the artisans and the process of harvesting. We were also supposed to cleanse our palates with some sparkling Perrier. *shiver* That stuff was so nasty. I couldn’t stop making a face every time I sipped it. Ugh, I can still imagine the taste.IMG_6230

The first chocolate was 90% cacao! Wow, it was like eating baking chocolate. It was really bitter to start off with and never quite had any sweet taste. Made by Slitti and bean from Central America.

The second chocolate was wrapped in a wrapper that said “Emergency Chocolate” and it tasted just dandy to me. I mean, it was bland, but it didn’t knock me over as soon as I took a bite.

Our third chocolate was 45% dark chocolate, but didn’t taste like it. There was a long aftertaste. The artisan started in Seattle and is one of the only Americans to receive international awards. He was recognized by the Jane Goodall organization. This is made under the name Theo and beans are from Central America.

I tried the fourth piece with a bit of caution because it looked like it was going to be quite dark. I started by smelling it and it had a strong chocolate aroma. It was very smooth with a dark chocolate aftertaste. This was another Slitti creation at 51% cacao and the bean is from South America.

This next piece was a group favorite! I opened up the package and took a long sniff. I found it interesting that there wasn’t much of a scent. I broke off a piece and let it melt in my mouth. Oh my goodness, this was sheer heaven. It had slight pieces of salt infused into the chocolate that showed up as the chocolate melted. It was very smooth. This one is L’Artigiano and is 54% cacao with the beans from Ecuador.IMG_6233The creator of the Amano chocolate, our 5th piece, pays his workers 4x what other workers are paid. He says we should be paying attention to the labels to see how many ingredients are in each piece of chocolate. This one for me was strong in flavor and it was very sharp. There was an interesting underlying flavor that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. It wasn’t one of my favorites. We were told that the soil gives the chocolate it’s flavor. You could have the same bean grown in different countries but because of how the soil is composed it could taste completely different! This chocolate is from Madagascar and was 70% cacao.

Our last chocolate had a strong chocolate fragrance, probably the strongest of them all. I’m thinking it’s because it’s 70% cacao. There was a dark aftertaste and it seemed to suck out all the moisture in my mouth. It was a very strange sensation. It was also probably the most smooth in texture. Domori chocolates get their beans from Colombia.

After we finished our last chocolate we continued to listen to more about chocolate and view slideshows. Our hosts answered all of our questions with amazing knowledge and we patient with our curiosity. Since I had only taken bites of each piece of the chocolates on our plate, I decided to go back and finish them up. Don’t want to waste, you know.IMG_6232I went in the same clockwise direction that we ate them to begin with. I have to admit something else. That generic piece of milk chocolate that I was plenty fine with the first go around…this time tasted so gross. I couldn’t believe how flavorless this chocolate had become after trying all the artisan chocolates. I was so surprised at how my palate had changed so drastically in just an hour.

This class was amazing and eye opening. Have I got you licking your lips and tasting chocolate? You can have your own chocolate experience on your own or with a group of friends. You’ve heard of wine tasting and cheese tasting. Well, now is the time to get educated about chocolate!

Going to Bonavita IS an experience. I think it would be great for a bridal party, a ladies day out, an intimate evening with friends, etc. They’d even come to your place! How about that? You can check out their Event listings to get an idea of what would fit your taste buds!

*I didn’t receive anything aside from tasting great chocolate during the class. The opinions expressed are my own and are never influenced by the company

3 comments:

Memoirs of a Single Dad said...

My son doesn't like chocolate either! Sometimes I swear he's the mailman's...

Yes I Blog said...

Sounds like a really cool opportunity! I'm not a huge chocolate fan though...it gives me headaches...but a little here and there - sure thing!

New follower through Blog Frog!

Check me out: www.wishyoucouldblog.blogspot.com

Jules from A Little Bite of Life said...

What great information on the different types of chocolate!

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