On the Chocolate Trail

Seriously Tasting Chocolate

Tasting These

Tasting These

A congenial group of chocoholic bloggers, authors and publishers slowly gathered around a farm size table as the wait staff at 2Beans lined up four wine glasses, a prosecco glass and a water glass. Within moments they also lowered plated chocolate squares and bon bons within our reach. Since it was 6:30 PM, I could not decide whether the chocolate & wine tasting would be snack or dinner. In the end it was dinner. I skipped the wine to save my calories for the chocolate. As the prosecco warmed everyone up from the winter night, we met Chocolate Noise blog writer Megan Giller, science editor Roxanne Khamsi, and on line publisher, Jeffrey Dryfoos, and others. We each vied for the best phone shots of the sweet table.

Presenter Clay Gordon’s chocolate expertise oozed out of his pores especially his forearm tattooed with the word “cacao.” Quite a clear proclamation of his passion. He confidently guided us through the gustatory fun and only occasionally had to assert command to regain attention of the chocolate and wine besotted group.


Gordon plied us with both new and familiar brands. Samples of known brands included new product lines. He encouraged us to consider Josef Albers teachings about color to inform our our sense of the complexities of flavor and smell. Despite the tremendous amount of wine poured during the evening, he cautioned that beer and chocolate pairings work better since each food results from a fermenting process.

Rococo’s white chocolate with cardamom was less offensive than I expected. The fruity flavor of Dick Taylor’s bar of 74% Dominican delighted everyone. I found the Durci bar of Dominican cocoa beans less evocative of the baked brownie that Gordon suggested.

All along we peppered Gordon with questions: What makes a milk chocolate (a milk powder, condensed milk or a chemical derived from milk)? What is the best chocolate (Bonnat in his opinion)? Is chocolate healthy? (In less processed forms such as natural cocoa powder or cocoa nibs). What is the best milk chocolate? (Gordon prefers a milk chocolate in the 59-69% range due to its fuller flavor and texture).

Without delving into a recent, much publicized bean-to-bar controversy around a well known craft chocolate company in Brooklyn, Gordon advised people to “take back the taste.” That is, that we rely on our perceptions rather than what experts say. Indeed the evening of tasting, according to Gordon, intended to do just that: Clarify more fully what we like and what we don’t like. There was a lot to like.

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The tasting was topped off with a one of a kind liqueur, Solbeso, distilled from the pulp of the cocoa pod.

2Beans, a New York City café and chocolate shoppe, ensconced the tasting perfectly with its spacious loft seating and ample chocolate to peruse. Zakaria El Ammari, Operations Director, carefully curates the coffee and chocolate selections. Their chocolate bars and bon bons span price point, countries of origin and brands.

After a couple of hours, although people were high on sugar and wine, Gordon insisted on bringing us all back together to conclude. He mused: “The chocolate life has become a metaphor for connecting to passion, a driver for professional and personal growth to inspire chocolate life in others.”

I know exactly what he means.

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On the Chocolate Trail

On the Chocolate Trail