My cousin and I like to go on food adventures, they are better than normal adventures. When we found out that Mast Brothers, one of the founders of the bean to bar chocolate movement was opening a factory/shop/cafe/cool space in Shoreditch, London (naturally) we knew we had to pay it a visit. Making our way through the hipster capital of London, we came across the super clean and minimalist temple to chocolate.
At the back, we had a glimpse of the chocolate making process, where they are making chocolate of site from beans to those glorious bars. Now if I could just smuggle one of these cocoa grinders back to my little flat, I would be one happy bunny!
The shop does a range of refreshments too, whilst in the cloud of chocolate aroma. I was intrigued with the Chocolate Beer but being early in the morning and having places to go and people to see, the beer would have to wait for another repeat visit. However, the hot chocolate had my name on it after making my bar selections.
And what a selection, rows and rows of beautifully packaged and designed bars, a range of single origin, inclusions and different milk types. Goat or Sheep Milk Chocolate, anyone? My cousin and I have different tastes apart from both really enjoying good food, so we took our time pouring our the bars and flavours, comparing and suggesting suggestions to each other. We both left with four bars each, never being the most decisive set of cousins!
Our reward for making our bar decisions…HOT CHOCOLATE. Bitter, creamy, rich with a strong cocoa foam on top. The perfect tonic for the rest of our day of exploring and getting into more food adventures.
My first bar I picked was the Brooklyn Blend 73%, which is a blend of cocoa beans that are the brother’s favourite to use from around the world. A good hit of red fruit that was pleasantly smooth and rolls around the palate. A nice characterful bar but not too challenging to put off the eater, just one to be savoured slowly.
Papua New Guinea 71% – was a bit of divider amongst me and my friends in that, due to the damp conditions in Papua New Guinea the cocoa beans are dried with the aid of fire. In turn this smoke has imparted in to the beans before processing. When opening the wrapper you are greeted with wood smoke and leathery aroma. The smokey flavour of the bar overrides all the other flavour that may be present under the smoke. A bit challenging as so smokey but would be good to pair with savoury food like a hearty cheese or even salamis.
The next bar was going to redeem some points after the smokey Papua New Guinea bar with a bit of a crowd pleaser – Maple 70% . Made with maple sugar, you get buttery and nutty flavour, almost like a delicious pecan pie of a chocolate bar. However being slightly coarser than European bars, the buttery notes would be more dreamy if a touch smoother. But an enjoyable bar none the less.
Finally a bar that caught my eye, due its unusual flavour combination. Vanilla and Smoke. After the Papua New Guinea bar I wasn’t too sure how this would go down with my friends. A more subtle and manageable level of smoke was present in the bar but again masted the vanilla with had to fight to get a look in and just a hint, similar levels of vanilla added to more mainstream bars.
I enjoyed my bars as again shows the brilliant diversity that cocoa beans can be and the range of flavours that be found beneath the beautiful wrappers.