So I was invited to a wine and chocolate tasting party this week.  I’ve never been to a wine tasting before.  I know less than nothing about wine.  They make it with grapes don’t they?  I’ve also never been to a chocolate tasting.  Eating a whole bag of M&Ms while watching Fever Pitch by myself on a weekend night doesn’t count, does it?

I was excited to go but very intimidated.  I thought I’d be hobnobbing with rich snooty people who had never even heard of Battlestar Galactica.  I myself am not rich. I am not snooty, generally.  Although, when a previous boss of mine announced that Attack of the Clones was his favorite of the six Star Wars movies, I almost quit.  I don’t work there anymore, incidentally, but his opinion wasn’t entirely responsible of my leaving.

I was supposed to bring a bottle of wine and some chocolate.  Feeling out of my element, I headed to the blogosphere to elicit advice on what kind of chocolate to buy to show these monocled snobs that I meant business.  I got some good advice from Judith at the Mostly About Chocolate Blog and Victoria at The District Chocoholic.  Like Liam Neeson in Taken, they both have a particular set of skills (and are probably ruthless assassins), and I thank them for their advice.

For my very first foray into the world of real, craft chocolate I ended up buying a single origin, Cortés Honduras 70% Dark Chocolate bar from Askinosie Chocolate, a bean to bar company in Missouri.

When it arrived yesterday, I couldn’t have been more excited.

The packaging is fantastic.  The bar came in a natural wax paper bag with a picture of the farmer who harvested the cacao beans.   Mine were from a farmer named Fermin Arriaga in Cortés, Honduras.  The design of the sleeve has a very simple, stampy aesthetic that made me want to sail down a dense rainforest river in a boat with a lot of crates and nets piled everywhere.

The bar had a strong and vibrant aroma (nosegrope for loyal readers) that I could probably just inhale for the rest of my life.

Now my palette is not refined.  It’s not delicate.  It’s more of a sledgehammer than a scalpel.  So I’m going to do my best in describing the bar’s flavor.  The bar is moderately bitter.  It didn’t melt completely smooth.  There was a trace of graininess in the mouthfeel (Look at me! I can’t believe I used that word!).  There were strong fruity, berry flavors that I thought tasted a bit like wine.  There was also a faint hint of pepper, like a barely perceptible kick buried way down.

I never understood what wine or chocolate people meant by “complex” until I tried this bar.  Tasting this blew my mind.  I have never concentrated so hard in trying to discern different layers of flavor in chocolate (I hope my analysis want too off the mark).  I loved the whole experience!  Researching the beans and the process and reading up on the Askinosie website really gave me and understanding and appreciation of what proper chocolate making is all about.  This seems like an arena that I could explore for a while.  Order some bars from this place.  They have an amazing thing going.  I’ll definitely be trying some more.

Consider my monocle polished.  Bring on the Monopoly Guys.