Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I was never a fan of the ocean.

I decided a month or two ago, with Mr. and Ms. DiSnazzio, to make with the candy blogging over at Rock Candy Baltimore so as to prepare their customer base for the fantastic stock of sweet treats contained within their bubblegum-colored walls. I thought this would be a really delicious endeavor, as I love all candy and chocolate. How on Earth could their be anything I don't like, right?

Um, ok. Wrong.

I'm posting this here because I don't want to have a negative candy review on the site just yet. When business is good and people understand that I am just one receptacle of taste buds and not the Almighty Candy God™, I'll start posting reviews for things that don't necessarily tempt my palate. Until then, you'll get the craptastic candy blogs over here and you'll just have to deal with it.

Yesterday I set out a plate of bites for my tasting panel (read: my coworkers and me) of the Barcelona Bar by Vosges Chocolate. A potentially smooth combination of milk and dark chocolate ("deep milk chocolate"), with hickory smoked almonds and an infusion of grey sea salt, the Barcelona Bar's fragrance was delectable. It sat approximately 2.5' from my nose and tempted me relentlessly. I encouraged my Tasting Panel to come on by and sample the goods, so long as they provided me with feedback. Here's what they said:
"There aren't enough almonds, really, but the salt really tries its best to highlight the sweetness of the chocolate."

"I think this is delicious. You're first hit with the smell of chocolate and then when you put it into your mouth, the flavor changes over and over again. Yum!"

"Anything that isn't dark chocolate already has a strike against it. And I have to admit that the chocolate flavor is lacking in this. The salt isn't overpowering, per say, but it detracts from the experience."

"It's good. How much was it?
[I tell her it's priced at about $7.50/bar] Um, yeah, I wouldn't pay $7.50 for this. " It should be noted that this taster returned to her desk and began eating a Baby Ruth.
Certainly not positive endorsements across the board.

My first few nibbles of this bar were either unexciting or perplexing. I wasn't hit with the salt with my first bite, so I was able to savor the smooth chocolate and delicious almonds. The second and third bites were met with more salt flavor, to the point of crunching through a few pieces and disrupting the texture experience. The final bite was the most tragic of them all.

I am, by no means, a trained candy consumer nor am I an expert on chocolate (or even fine wine, for that matter). But I was trained at the school of Trader Joe's, where the quality of the merchandise has to meet fairly with the price and flavor. This is what we called "value" in the industry. And while I think that this chocolate is significantly more refined than a Hershey Bar, I don't feel that the overall value is there. The almonds were sparse, the chocolate wasn't rich and exciting, and the salt was a horrible distraction from the overall experience. And I believe that salt and nuts are an excellent combination with ice cream (Hello Buster Bar at Dairy Queen!).

About twenty minutes after my last bite, I smacked my tongue to the roof of my mouth and tasted ocean water. I had all of these disturbing visions of being pulled under the surf and swallowing a few gallons of salt water and sand when I was a kid at Myrtle Beach. There are some people, based on what I've seen in gourmet cookbooks and cooking shows, that can extol the virtues of sea salt and its depth of flavor. But when I eat a chocolate bar and the overwhelming impression of it is that it tastes like Myrtle Beach, I don't really see the merits in spending more than a few bucks on it.

Overall, Barcelona Bar, you were a disappointment.

1 comment:

  1. salt and chocolate is not for everyone. there is a tiny shop here that makes a salted caramel (no crunch here, at all!) that made me weep with its wonderosity. i've had some of the vosges, but not that flavor. i think the ones i've tasted were alright. $8-12 is a lot for chocolate, so you should love it, or don't bother with it.

    i eat the cheesecurds from tillamook (in case you haven't noticed), and one of the best things about them is the residual taste of seawater. everytime i go to the beach, i actually taste the water upon first arriving. one woman's brackish taste is another's cordial ;)

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