There are many ways to enjoy fine chocolate. I personally like to eat it in secret so I don’t have to share. I’m greedy like that. On the rare occasion that I feel like sharing, I love hosting an informal chocolate tastings for friends.
Unlike a formal tasting where notes are taken and serious concentration is required, informal tastings are all about spontaneous discussion and connection using chocolate as the catalyst.
It’s simple! Grab a handful of quality chocolate bars and a few friends. Set out some water for palate cleansing and start tasting.
Recently, we held our own informal tasting of flavoured bars and chocolate covered fruit. All the chocolate was kindly provided to us by Naive, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Lithuania.
When selecting chocolates for your own tasting, you can try a selection from one company like we did or you can mix it up with multiple chocolate makers. You can focus on one chocolate growing region or a specific percentage. To help keep costs down you can ask everyone to bring a bar.
I hit record on my phone to capture the commentary from our informal tasting party. Although the chocolate was provided for us, the opinions are our own. This is what our guests had to say…
Sita: It’s malty and a bit tart.
Chris: I get a bit of an Earl Grey tea thing. Violets.
Drew: I kinda love it in a weird way, there is something that reminds me of the way a Barbie Doll smells.
Chris: I could actually eat a lot of this one. I like it because it’s not too sweet. Does this mean I’m a grown-up now?
Jasmine: This one has berries, I’m not sure what kind.
Drew: Manilow or Gibb?
Sita: I vote Gibb.
Jasmine: Strawberry, blueberries and currants.
Sita: I was expecting a stronger berry smell, but it’s subtle.
Jasmine: So many chocolate bars have berry notes, so it is hard to distinguish what is coming from the berries and what is the cacao. I was expecting inclusions, but the berries have been powdered and mixed in.
Chris: I actually prefer this approach to the lazy method of sprinkling some berries or flowers on the bar after it’s been tempered. I really like this one.
Sita: Me too, it’s quite lovely. I really taste the currants! I love it!
Jasmine: Do you typically like fruit in your chocolate?
Sita: Nope! I like that this doesn’t have seeds or skin. It’s great!
Chris: Honey has a funkiness to it. It’s not too different from the mushroom funk. I wish the honey was more pronounced.
Drew: It doesn’t taste like a spoonful of honey, it’s more like taking a bite out of a honeycomb.
Jasmine: The packaging says that beekeeping is “true Lithuanian yoga”.
Drew: Normally, I would hate these rhapsodic descriptions on the back of a package but they actually make sense. I can taste everything they are talking about.
Editors Note: The Naive packaging has some very poetic copy.
Jasmine: It smells like mushrooms. I’m not sure what I was expecting
Drew: This reminds me of chocolate covered psilocybin! F*ck that’s delicious, oh god that’s good!
Sita: How long until we started seeing things? It almost tastes like it has caramel in it. I know it doesn’t but it tastes like it. It’s really creamy.
Jasmine: This one is a dark milk, so that might explain it. I think a little dairy is a nice compliment to the mushroom.
Drew: This tastes like pudding and hanukkah gelt, but fancy!
Jasmine: This is probably my least favorite of all the bars. It’s just not doing it for me.
Chris: Too sweet?
Jasmine: No, I’m not loving the flavour profile. I should give it a try it on it’s own. It’s not holding up to some of the other bars.
Drew: This reminds of smoking. Mmmmm, smoking.
Chris: It’s got a tar-like, resin thing going on.
Drew: This is my second favorite next to the Porcini.
Chris: What is a golden berry? It’s huge, you only get 6 in a box.
Jasmine: These are tart! Almost like having a malt ball, but tart.
Sita: I think it’s a gooseberry.
Jasmine: That makes sense! Oddly enough, there is turmeric in this.
Chris: It’s probably for colour.
Jasmine: I quite like the texture. It’s not too sweet.
Sita: I want more.
Chris: I like these ones better than the golden berries.
Jasmine: I’m glad they didn’t candy the cherries first.
Chris: There is an earthiness and a bit of tobacco.
Jasmine: What were your overall thoughts?
Sita: It was fun! I keep going back for the Berry bar.
Chris: Although the ingredients were familiar, I think the approach was very different from the typical North American style, especially the chocolate coated fruit.
Jasmine: I feel like I got a little glimpse at the Lithuanian palate. That is fun to me!
Drew: And the packaging copy gave a bit of insight into the cultural ideology.
After the initial tasting, we cracked open some sparkling wine and finished off the rest of the chocolate. An evening well spent!
Jasmine co-founded Chocolate Codex as a way to share her enthusiasm for chocolate. She has a certificate in Chocolate making from Ecole Chocolat and she runs a foodblog called The Blenderist.